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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Does Boron Have An Essential Function Similar to An Omega-3 Fatty Acid Function?

Author
item Nielsen, Forrest

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: September 14, 2002
Publication Date: October 18, 2002
Citation: Nielsen, F.H. 2002. Does boron have an essential function similar to an omega-3 fatty acid function? In: Anke, M., Muller, R., Schafer, U., Stoeppler, M., editors. Macro and Trace Elements. Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany, October 18-19-2002. Leipzig, Germany:Schubert-Verlag. p.1238-1250.

Interpretive Summary: Because boron is required to complete the life cycle of some animals (frog and zebrafish), boron probably should be considered an essential nutrient for higher animals and humans. However, the lack of a defined biochemical function has inhibited general acceptance of boron essentiality. There is some evidence suggesting that boron acts at the cell membrane level thus affecting the response to hormones, or the signaling to cells to perform certain biochemical or physiological actions needed for bone formation, immune response, and brain function. Lipids known as the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids are thought to work in a similar fashion. Thus, an experiment was done with rats to see if the dietary intake of boron would affect changes caused by a altered intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, or that varying the intake of omega-3 fatty acids would alter the response to boron deprivation. The experiment found that boron deficiency increased the blood content of cells involved in immune function, and decreased bone strength especially in females, when the diet was high in omega-3 fatty acids. Also, boron deficiency changed the physical characteristics of red blood cells and blood platelets when dietary oil (canola oil) provided high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, but not when the dietary oil (palm oil)was low in omega-3 fatty acids. These findings suggested changes were occurring at the cell membrane level and thus support the hypothesis that boron is involved in a cell membrane function that can affect a variety of life processes.

Technical Abstract: Because boron is required to complete the life cycle of some animals (frog and zebrafish), boron probably should be considered an essential nutrient for higher animals and humans. However, the lack of a defined biochemical function has inhibited general acceptance of boron essentiality. There are some findings suggesting that boron has an essential function at the membrane level. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids also are thought to act at the membrane level. Both boron and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids have similar beneficial effects in experimental animals. Thus, it was hypothesized that boron status would affect changes in variables caused by altered dietary intakes of omega-3 fatty acids, or that varying the intake of omega-3 would alter the response to boron deprivation. Female rats and breeder males were fed diets in a factorial arrangement with variables being supplemental boron at 0 and 3 mg/kg diet and either canola or palm oil at 75 g/kg diet. The basal diet contained about 70 ug B/kg. After 5 weeks of feeding, females were bred. Dams and pups continued on their respective diets through gestation, lactation, and post-weaning. Thirteen weeks after weaning, numerous variables were determined in 12 male and 12 female offspring in each treatment. Boron deficiency increased circulating monocytes and basophils, and decreased bone strength especially in females, when the diet was high in omega-3 fatty acids. Also, boron deficiency affected mean corpuscular volume, mean platelet volume, erythrocyte number, platelet distribution width when dietary oil was canola, but not when it was palm oil. The findings support the suggestion that boron and omega-3 fatty acids interact at the cell membrane level to affect a variety of life processes.

Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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