Beverley has a degree in science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.
Nutrients like vitamin D, certain minerals, and exercise make our skeletal framework and connective tissues strong and healthy. Strong bones are less prone to fractures and bone diseases like osteopenia and osteoporosis. Healthy connective tissues can retard arthritic ailments in our joints.
We know the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium make our bones dense. Copper is an important part of the connective tissues in the cartilage and tendons of our joints.
Some scientists believe that lesser-known minerals boron, silica, and strontium may also play essential roles in bone and connective tissue health.
Boron is a naturally-occurring compound in plants. It plays a vital role in maintaining the framework of their cell walls. It is also a trace mineral in our plant-derived food. Research suggests that it may help to prevent osteopenia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
How Does Boron Benefit Our Bones?
Like the cells of other tissues, bone cells grow old, break down, and are replaced by new ones. But as we age, there’s a slowdown in estrogen and testosterone production. The decrease initiates a loss of minerals like calcium, which is necessary to create new cells.
When the mineral loss outpaces bone cell production, we have the perfect environment for diseases like osteopenia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis. It leaves our hips, spine, and wrists, in particular, prone to fracture.
Boron may help by decreasing calcium elimination, increasing magnesium absorption, and stimulating vitamin D intake. It may also boost estrogen production in menopausal women and testosterone production in men.
Those conclusions were based largely on data from animal studies. More research, especially on humans, is needed.
In research where osteoarthritic humans were given boron supplements, the results also showed promise.
What Foods Contain Boron?
Boron occurs naturally in avocados, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, parsley, plums, apples, grapes, peaches, oranges, berries, whole grains, peanuts, pecans, almonds, and seaweed. It’s also found in drinking water and wine.
Side Effects & Drug Interactions of Boron Use
Boron supplements' side effects may include:
- Gastrointestinal issues: pain, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Heart palpitations
- Dermatitis, other skin conditions
- Avoid consumption during pregnancy and lactation.
- Supplements are not recommended if you are on medication, especially substances that increase hormones like estrogen.
There is some truth in the Biblical quote, “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust” because silica is a major component of sand. In our bodies, the trace mineral combines with oxygen atoms and becomes silicon dioxide. Research suggests that a diet deficient in silicon dioxide may have a disparaging effect on our bones.
How Does Silica Benefit Our Bones?
Without silica, we could become more susceptible to brittle bone and fractures. It’s believed that 80 % of the body’s silica content resides in our bones.
The tendons and other connective tissues in our joints may also weaken without silicon dioxide. Weak joints would reduce the flexibility necessary for movement.
Scientific research provides some evidence of the mineral’s importance, especially in strengthening bones and creating connective tissue collagen in younger and pre-menopausal men and women.
Analysts have also observed a direct correlation between silica and calcium, which may affect bone health. As we mature, the silica content in our body decreases while calcium content increases.
What Foods Contain Silica?
Silica or silicon dioxide is found naturally in foods like grains especially oats and rice, root veggies such as carrots, turnips, beets, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, and potatoes, cucumber, spinach, leeks, celery, asparagus, green beans, garbanzo beans, and red lentils.
It’s also found in fruits such as bananas, strawberries, and mangoes, and in seafood and beer. Commercial enterprises use silicon as an anti-caking and anti-foaming food additive.
Side Effects & Drug Interactions of Silica Use
More research is needed on silica side effects and drug interactions. But the mineral has been known to act as a diuretic. Exercise caution when taking medications for
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Kidney disorders
- Also be aware of other supplements with similar diuretic side effects.
- Pregnant and lactating women should also be cautious.
Strontium is a naturally-occurring chemical element that is even lesser known, except to chemists, than boron and silica. There are different isotopes including a radioactive form. Most strontium, roughly 99 %, is concentrated in our bones.
How Does Strontium Benefit Our Bones?
Because its properties are similar to calcium, it has been used to treat bone diseases like osteoporosis and bone cancer.
Some scientists believe that like calcium, strontium can stimulate bone density and bone production. In fact, European studies suggest that it can decrease the risk of hip and spine fractures in postmenopausal women.
In 2014, a European Medicines Agency, akin to the U. S.A.’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA), recommended ceasing strontium use for osteoporosis due to the discovery of serious side effects including heart attacks, blood clots, and seizures. Generic supplements, however, are still available.
Strontium and Bone Cancer
A radioactive form called strontium-89 with the brand name Metastron has been given to patients with advanced bone cancer. The intravenous intake is absorbed by bones in a similar process to calcium.
What Foods Contain Strontium?
Strontium occurs naturally in spinach, lettuce, celery, beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, grains, whole milk, dairy products, and seafood. The mineral is prevalent in soil and seawater which would explain why it’s in our foods. Strontium is also found in toothpaste.
Are Strontium Supplements Available?
Strontium supplements are available as strontium chloride or strontium citrate. Strontium ranelate, which was used in Europe to treat osteoporosis before the Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee warning, is available in the United Kingdom under strict consumption rules.
Side Effects & Drug Interactions of Strontium Use
Strontium may be relatively safe, but serious side effects and drug interactions may occur depending on the type of supplement one takes. For instance:
- Cardiovascular issues (strontium ranelate)
- Seizures (strontium ranelate)
- Liver inflammation (strontium ranelate)
- Kidney disease
- Individuals with Paget’s disease could worsen
- Stomach pain and digestive issues like diarrhea
- Drug interactions: Unsafe to use with certain antibiotics, estrogen pills, male hormones, and antacids.
- Avoid consumption if pregnant or breast-feeding
Ways Boron, Silica, and Strontium May Protect Bone and Joint Health
|Trace Minerals||Potential Bone Health Support|
Decreases calcium elimination; increases magnesium absorption; stimulates vitamin D intake; boosts estrogen & testosterone production.
Silica or Silicon Dioxide
Strengthens bones and connective tissues; creates collagen in younger women & men.
Stimulates bone density and production; treats bone cancer.
If our skeletal frame and joints aren’t strong and healthy, we are prone to diseases that lead to falls and fractures, especially as we age. We know vitamin D and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper are essential to bone health. Without appropriate content, we may develop osteopenia, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis.
Researchers also believe that we need the lesser-known trace minerals boron, silica or silicon dioxide, and strontium. Data suggests they may help prevent or slow the onset of bone diseases.
The three minerals occur naturally in several vegetables including root veggies, fruits, grains, nuts, seafood, and water.
Supplements are available as well, but individuals who may choose to consume them should be aware of possible side effects and drug interactions. Some, like strontium, not approved in the United States, can be quite harmful.
Always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information, and permission before consuming any nutraceuticals or supplements. There’s no medical evidence to support boron, silica, and strontium curing, treating, or preventing diseases.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2022 Beverley Byer