Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Boron: The Least Glamorous Health Supplement?

Better known as a composite structural material in 1990s era high-end tennis racquets and phonograph cartridge cantilevers, is the element boron the least glamorous of all the health supplements?

By: Ringo Bones

Does anyone even remember when was the last time his or her general practitioner / doctor / or the online shopping health supplement promoter recommended hat he or she should be taking boron pills? To the not-so-well-informed, the name of the chemical element boron is derived from borax and carbon. The element was discovered back in 1808 by Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac and Louis Jacques Thénard. Chemical symbol B, boron is a semi-metallic chemical element and is a member of the aluminum family which also includes aluminum, gallium, indium and thallium. Even though it is exploited by 1950s era Madison Avenue “Mad Men” to make adverts for boron gasoline that is based on the “futuristic” jet fuel of the XB-70 Valkyrie. It seems that the general public’s perception of boron has faded into relative obscurity by the 21st Century.

From the high-school chemistry textbook’s perspective, boron is best known as a constituent in borax (sodium borate) and in boric acid – the one acid that is good for the eyes - though the benefits of regular use of boric acid eye-drops have yet to be exploited by health supplement manufacturers. About a million tons of boron is used in the U.S. industry each year. In agriculture, boron serves both as a plant food and weed killer.

It may be one of the least glamorous and most esoteric of the health supplements but boron could actually help reduce the risk of prostate cancer. In the first epidemiologic study of this trace element, researchers have recently found out that men who consume the most boron – a “mere” 1.8 micrograms a day – have a 62 percent lower chance of developing prostate cancer, compared with those who get half that amount. But which everyday foods are rich source of the chemical element boron? Recent studies have shown that nuts, wine and fruits and vegetables like grapes, prunes and avocado contain significant amounts of boron of high bioavailability.       

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