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Boron supplements are pills containing the trace mineral boron that people can take to increase the amount of boron in their diets. Plants are a natural source of boron, particularly fruits and vegetables, but the mineral is only present in small amounts. People take these supplements for a variety of reasons, such as treating osteoporosis and as an aid for body building, although the effectiveness is still being researched. The supplements are generally considered safe for adults and children, as long as the total amount of boron consumed per day is within the tolerable limits. In some cases, taking the supplements might not be safe, such as if one has kidney disease or certain types of cancer.
The main functions of boron supplements are to help with calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus absorption in the body. Since it allows more of these nutrients to be absorbed, boron can be beneficial for building stronger bones. It can also slightly increase levels of estrogen and testosterone.
Many people take boron supplements for treating osteoporosis, because the mineral can help strengthen bones. Research indicates that there is insufficient evidence to prove the effectiveness of boron for this type of treatment. Nonetheless, it does suggest that the supplements might reduce the symptoms of osteoporosis in some people.
Another reason people take boron supplements is to aid with body building. It is believed that the increase in testosterone from boron can help build muscle. Studies show, however, that the supplements are ineffective in this regard because the increase in testosterone is not enough to make much of a difference for building muscles. Also, research found that these supplements do not necessarily improve brain function and muscle motor skills, although more studies might be needed for conclusive results.
One use for boron supplements that has been proven effective is for those who have a boron deficiency from not consuming adequate amounts of the mineral. Taking a daily supplement can increase boron levels, although there is not currently a recommended daily amount. A boron deficiency might affect hormone and vitamin levels, brain functions, and possibly weaken bones.
In general, boron supplements are considered to be safe for adults and children. They are also safe during pregnancy as long as the amount consumed is within the tolerable limits. By contrast, boric acid, which is different from typical boron supplements, is not safe during pregnancy as it can cause birth defects.
There are some cases in which it might not be safe for a person to take boron supplements. If one has kidney problems like kidney disease, then the kidneys could have difficulty processing the extra boron. Also, those with certain types of cancer that are negatively affected by an increase in estrogen, like breast cancer or ovarian cancer, should not take these supplements. Additionally, if one is already taking estrogen supplements, then increasing the boron intake could cause too high of estrogen levels.
For adults, the limit for consuming boron is 20 mg per day. For children, the limits vary by age. Those between the ages of 14 and 18 have a limit of 17 mg per day, and those between 9 and 13 years old can have a total of 11 mg per day. Younger children aged 4 to 8 should have no more than 6 mg daily, and toddlers between 1 and 3 have a limit of 3 mg. There is no established tolerable limit for infants under the age of 1 year.
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