Boron and Testosterone

In the world of a million and one health-promoting, performance-enhancing supplements it’s easy to sometimes miss the simplest, most effective nutrients.

With flashy branding and toned, fit spokespeople you can quickly get over-consumed by expensive and well-marketed products.

As a naturally-occurring chemical, boron is a useful weapon in the armory to battle low testosterone. Found in foods such as nuts, fruits and vegetables, it’s a readily-accessible and dynamic mineral, able to boost both health and sports performance.

So – set aside those proprietary blends with faux-scientific marketing names and get back to basics.

Back to Basics

In relation to testosterone, boron is very much ‘old hat’. Back in the mists of time, boron was touted as a testosterone booster before the supplements industry was even an industry.

In the late 80s and early 90s it was hyped up as a natural alternative to steroids. Bear in mind that in those days the internet was years off being invented, so ‘hype’ meant word of mouth between guys with Magnum P.I. mustaches and tiny shorts in gyms.

Those pioneering bros didn’t mess about, if it didn’t work then they didn’t get suckered into taking it. And boron worked.

… but for whatever reason it faded away, was replaced by the Next Big Thing and never really became the star that it deserved to be.

However, boron’s story as a muscle building supplement never ended there. Scientific interest in boron continued, and was revived in 2011 following the publication of a study conducted by a team of Iranian researchers in the Sports Physiology Research Centre, University of Medical Sciences in Tehran.

Study: Comparative effects of daily and weekly boron supplementation on plasma steroid hormones and proinflammatory cytokines.

Year: 2011
Link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129941
Naghii M.R., Mofid M., Asgari A.R., Hedayati M., Daneshpour M.S.
Sport Physiology Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

This is one of those studies that makes you sit up and pay attention because;

  1. There’s a clear, significant and positive result in relation to the effect boron supplementation had on free testosterone levels.
  2. There is no evident commercial bias or predisposition by the researchers to arrive at any specific conclusion.
  3. It is properly conducted academic research, not some quasi-academic fudge from the marketing department of a supplement company.

There’s one final reason the study is worthy of our time. Often you’ll see studies done where, rather than base the results on indisputable medical results such as blood draws, testing for hormone levels etc – the researchers base their results on largely arbitrary factors such as how much the subjects can bench press, or run, or swim. Factors that could be influenced by any number of reasons.

In this study they actually had their blood taken and the free testosterone levels measured.

What was discovered was that after the subjects had ingested the boron there was a dramatic decrease in levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG).

SHBG is a protein which binds to testosterone and renders it unusable by androgen receptors. This means that all the good things which testosterone does (build muscle, increase your energy levels, boost your sex drive – all the things you’d take a test supplement for) won’t happen because the SHBG has bound itself to the testosterone.

So reduce the SHBG and you increase free (unbound) testosterone, which can then go on to do it’s wonderful things. SHBG would otherwise grab testosterone like a wrestler would catch you in a choke hold and tap you out of play.

This was what happened during this clinical trial. SHBG dropped through the floor and as a result free testosterone levels increased by an average of 28% whilst estradiol decreased by 39%.

What’s estradiol? It is an estrogen steroid hormone. We want our available free testosterone to bind to androgen receptors – estradiol prevents this happening by binding to them first (but not activating the receptor so we get no benefit).

Reduced estradiol means the already high levels of free testosterone (courtesy of the SHBG) can then go on to be efficiently used by the body. A win-win.

Other health Benefits of Boron

As an essential mineral, your body can’t make its own boron. It has to get it from the diet.

According to the excellent research paper “Nothing boring about boron” ;

“Boron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world and is associated with everything from bone health to metabolism”

Here’s a breakdown of the most important boron benefits …

Boosts bone health

Having healthy bones is all about regulating the minerals that make up bone cells – much like a builder expertly mixes his sand and cement to form a strong bond for bricks. Boron has been shown to improve the bone-building power of calcium and other important mineral compounds by enhancing its absorption properties.

Protects against arthritis

Many scientists suggest that boron is an essential nutrient for joint health, and not just bones. It’s been found to offer a safe and effective treatment for arthritic pain and helps to decrease the inflammatory response leading to swollen joints in the hands, wrists and other areas of the body.

Promotes cell membrane function

Boron plays an important role in preserving the integrity of cell membranes, helping to build a wall that protects against bacteria and other bad stuff that wants in. This ensures stable receptors for hormones to attach to, while promoting overall wellness.

Can lower blood lipid levels

Those who have higher levels of blood lipids are at risk of various metabolic diseases. Boron helps to reduce the buildup of bad fats in the blood, transporting them out of your body like security would an unruly teenager at the mall. Research shows a clear link between boron supplementation and lower risk of atherosclerosis due to its antioxidant properties.

Improves heart health

With over 600,000 people dying of heart disease-related illness every year, it’s important to do all you can to protect yourself from this serious and complicated disease. Boron compounds such as boric acid and borates have been shown in clinical trials and reviews to offer ‘miracle mineral’ benefits to cardiovascular conditions.

Enhances cognitive power

Finally, boron helps to boost your brain power by enhancing motor skills such as coordination, concentration and reaction time by improving hand-eye coordination. In a study of the mineral’s cell membrane function, scientists found that boron significantly enhanced:

  • Short- and long-term memory
  • Attention
  • Human brain function
  • Manual dexterity
  • Response time performance

Boron Supplementation Dosage

Currently, the daily recommended amount for boron varies from 1-6 mg. That’s a safe, minimum dose mind. This classifies it as a trace mineral needed to maintain health. However, higher doses have been shown to improve quite a few different health-related disorders.

The tolerable upper intake level is 20 mg per day. That might not sound like a lot, but as an example, an avocado only provides 1.11 mg … and no one’s eating 20 of those bad boys each day.

10mg per day would be a sensible dose to set in a supplement, it ensures levels are high whilst minimizing the likelihood that a normal diet will push you over your tolerance level.

Conclusion

With studies such as the Naghii study backing up the effects boron supplementation has on SHBG, estradiol and free test, it’s difficult to claim it’s not worth having in the mix.

Boron is able to use its metal to help you build an ironclad physique. So make sure it’s in your test boosting supplement stack.

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Comment List

  • jNemes65 25th February 2018
    Reply

    Fantastic for Arthritis too

  • jNemes65 25th February 2018
    Reply

    take Boron with Beets supplement for a double whammy!

  • Geoff 26th February 2018
    Reply

    Great article

    I have high SHGB ,its 82 mnol ..calculated free T is 211.I have never used roids or anything like this.//I have noticed I have lost a tonne of muscle in the last 10 years for no real reason and have also lost stamina ,tiredness and weakness ..strength is a lot lower…Is boron considered a long term solution if there was one here?

    • Harry McKay 27th February 2018
      Reply

      Thanks Geoff,

      It’s a very good question – and much as I hate to admit it I don’t have an answer. I don’t know of any long term study on boron (in isolation) and SHBG / Free Test. The longest one is 7 weeks – there are various references to it as giving similar results to the Naghii study but I cannot find a link right now, it was by Mjilkovich et al. I will dig deeper and find it, update this article. Thanks for the question!

      Harry

  • Austin 6th May 2019
    Reply

    I’ve researched boron and I’ve seen a descent amount of information claiming it can boost estrogen and decrease it. What do you think about the sources that claim boron increases estrogen? Thanks

    • Harry McKay 13th May 2019
      Reply

      Hi Austin,

      Sorry for the slow reply, I missed this comment initially.

      Which sources do you mean in relation to increasing estrogen? The study I know of that gets cited on this is this one -> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3678698

      For me it’s not the fact that it relates to post menopausal women with magnesium deficiency that makes me inclined to dismiss it – it’s the fact they tried to test so much with such a tiny number of subjects. Look at all the variables in play and only 12 women taking part.

      Thanks,

      Harry

  • Austin 11th May 2019
    Reply

    What is the minimum effective dose of boron for boosting testosterone?

    • Harry McKay 13th May 2019
      Reply

      Hi Austin,

      It’s a good question – I’ll be honest that I don’t know the answer. You tend to see 10mg in most supplements, and the reason for that will be that the positive studies showing beneficial effects used 10mg in the trial.

      If you were manufacturing a supplement, you wouldn’t use less than that because there’s simply no point. You’d use the dosage which has strong clinical evidence backing it up, shaving a couple of mg off one of the ingredients isn’t worthwhile. Boron is one of those ingredients that is easy to include when you are formulating a supplement – same goes for D3 and K2. Why? Because they are effective in tiny amounts. It’s easy to include them in a formula because they don’t take up much space, it’s much harder to justify including an ingredient which could consume 500mg or 1000mg across the capsules which constitute a daily dose.

      Sorry that’s not much of an answer to your actual question though!

      Harry