Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Dogged Path to Acceptance of Boron As a Nutritionally Important Mineral Element

Author
item Nielsen, Forrest

Submitted to: Trace Elements in Man and Animals International Symposium
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: In the 1930's, several eminent nutrition scientists failed in their attempts to show that low dietary boron had detrimental consequences in experimental animals. Thus, by 1940, the dogma had developed that boron was a unique element in that it was essential for plants but not for animals. In the 1970's and 1980's, a large number of elements were suggested to be essential based on some change in a physiological or biochemical variable in an experimental animal supposedly fed a diet deficient in a specific element. Questions arose about whether some of the changes were really the result of low intakes causing suboptimal functions, and were in reality manifestations of supplements having pharmacological or toxicological actions. As a result, many scientists, probably a majority, accept a mineral element as nutritionally essential only if it can meet one of three criteria; these are (1) dietary lack causes death; (2) dietary lack interrupts the life cycle (interferes with growth, development or maturation such that procreation is prevented); or (3) it has a defined biochemical function. Thus, although a plethora of findings from several different researchers during the 1980's indicated that boron is nutritionally beneficial to calcium metabolism, brain function and energy metabolism in higher animals including humans, it still was not generally accepted as an essential nutrient for higher animals. However, findings showing that boron is needed by some higher animals (frog and fish) to complete their life cycle have been recently reported. These findings should elevate boron to the category of essential nutrient, and show that dietary reference intakes should be established for boron.

Last Modified: 10/20/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page