Plants get the boron they need from soil and water. In fact, they can't live without it. For humans, experts agree that boron is nutritionally important, and mounting evidence suggests that boron may be an essential element to our diet as well.
A key to understanding how much boron people need is knowing how much boron they consume, and from what dietary sources. Nutrition Research Group's Charlene Rainey of Irvine, California, is breaking new ground in her studies about the dietary boron intake of a cross section of healthy populations on four different continents. Her remarkable findings are highlighted in this article.
Measuring the boron content in healthy diets starts with determining how much boron is available in each different nutritional source. The first noteworthy morsel in Rainey's research is that some high boron foods are not ones that people immediately identify as boron-rich. It's no surprise that fruits like avocados, cherries and grapes are relatively high in boron. Almonds, peanuts and hazelnuts make sense, too. But did you know that scallops, mussels and clams have about as much boron as parsnips, beets and rutabaga (swedes)?
For junk food junkies, there's also good news. Licorice, chocolate and popcorn are high boron foods - with almost as much boron as oranges. And gourmets can rest assured: a glass of wine contributes about the same amount of boron to the diet as a glass of prune juice.
Once Rainey had established a nutrient data base quantifying boron content by food group, her next step was to find out how much people were eating. Her findings for where people in six different countries get their boron are included in this issue's 'Boron boutique'.
Not surprisingly, she found some overlap in which foods contributed the most boron to diets in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico, Egypt and Kenya. Potatoes made every country's top ten list, for instance.
What also emerged was the fact that the rural agricultural cultures surveyed tend to rely on a shorter list of food and beverages for their dietary intake - and for their boron intake. The list of the top 15 foods that contribute boron to people's diets in Mexico, Egypt and Kenya constituted between 80 and 94 percent of their boron intake; in the United States, United Kingdom and Germany, the top 15 contributors only accounted for between 48 and 63 percent of total boron intake.
Rainey's research forms an important foundation for understanding how much boron people around the world eat and drink every day - critical for understanding what role boron plays in human health.