Boron Supports Bone Growth
February 21, 1997
Chicken drumsticks are giving boron a leg to stand on as an element that may
be important for optimum bone growth in people. Studies of growing chicks show
that boron--found mostly in fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts--can partially
compensate for a low vitamin D intake in bone formation.
Like human children, chicks raised on a diet deficient in vitamin D develop
rickets, a bone deformity in which the actively growing ends, or growth plates,
are weak from lack of minerals. Adding boron to the vitamin D-deficient diet
significantly improved the accumulation of minerals in the chicks growth
plates, according to researchers with USDAs Agricultural Research Service.
They added several levels of boron to the chicks diets to approximate
the range people might get through typical diets. After four weeks, they
inspected the growth plates under a microscope.
Those closest to normal came from chicks getting the highest level of
boron--4.2 milligrams per kilogram of feed. This is equivalent to the boron
levels in a human diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables. Even in the
chicks raised on diets containing adequate vitamin D, the growth plates tended
to mineralize better when the animals got ample boron.
Scientific contact: Curtiss Hunt, USDA-ARS
Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research
Center, Grand Forks, N.D., phone (701) 795-8423, e-mail