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Boron: A Trace Mineral Necessary for Good Health

Boron is a trace mineral essential to human health and must be obtained from diet or supplements. This nutrient recently gained popularity after researchers found that it helps the bones use calcium. Increased boron levels in the soil have been associated with a lower risk of osteoarthritis.

Trace minerals occur in the soil, in foods, and in your body at much lower levels than the macrominerals, so they become more easily depleted. When deficiencies occur — and deficiency is much more common than toxicity — important metabolic functions like blood sugar regulation, or specific substances and enzymes in the body, will not work properly.

Examples of metabolic functions affected include iodine needed for thyroid production, iron for red blood cell hemoglobin production, and zinc for proper immune function.

Key functions of boron:

  • May act on the parathyroid glands to regulate calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus balance.

  • Used to prevent bone loss. Boron is a common ingredient in bone-supporting formulas along with calcium.

If boron occurs in sufficient levels in the soil in which food is grown, the mineral will be in abundance in whole foods, such as apples, grapes, nuts, legumes, and leafy greens.

You need about 1 mg of boron daily from your diet, but 3–5 mg may be more helpful as a supplement, particularly for the elderly.

Toxicity of boron is unknown. Boron deficiency, which may occur with a low consumption of fruits and vegetables, may affect bone and calcium metabolism and lead to osteoporosis in the elderly.

Some diseases, activities, foods, and drinks can increase your risk of trace mineral deficiency. Diseases and conditions to watch out for include parasitic infections, ulcers and diverticulitis (with chronic blood loss), liver disease, burns, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and weak digestion.

Remember, too, that if you live in a hot climate or are physically active, excessive sweating and taking diuretics can increase the loss of many trace minerals.

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