3 trace minerals you didn’t know your bones needed

What do you think of when someone says “bone-building minerals”? If you’re like most people, calcium jumps to mind immediately. Maybe you also think of phosphorus, magnesium and even zinc.

But most people aren’t aware of 3 important trace minerals that are essential for bone health — manganese, copper and boron. While only needed in small amounts, they make a huge difference for our bones. Here’s what the research says:

Big benefits of manganese, copper and boron

  1. Manganese is needed for functioning of several enzymes central to bone formation.
  • Women with osteoporosis have 75% lower manganese than those without osteoporosis, according to studies. (Interestingly, women have more manganese in hip bone than men.)
  • One study, which looked at 25 different variables, found that only manganese was significantly different between osteoporotic and non-osteoporotic women.
  • Multi-nutrient studies have incorporated manganese supplementation and showed an increase in bone mineral density.

2. Copper helps form collagen for bone and connective tissue, and low copper levels are associated with osteoporosis development.

  • One early study found copper levels in elderly patients with hip fractures were significantly lower than those of matched controls.
  • Another study of perimenopausal women who consumed 1 mg of copper daily reported a decrease in bone loss of the spine after supplementation with 3 mg copper.

3. Boron is essential for bone growth, and it also supports other bone-building nutrients.

  • Boron supplementation markedly reduces excretion of calcium and magnesium.
  • Boron increases vitamin D utilization.
  • Boron also helps to reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative damage from heavy metals and other toxins.

How much of these nutrients do we need?

If people don’t know about the importance of these trace nutrients, it probably comes as no surprise that most of us aren’t getting enough!

  • The current daily allowance for manganese is 2.3 mg/d for adult males and 1.8 mg/d for females.
  • Copper, which can be toxic in higher amounts, is set at 900 micrograms — just under 1 mg — for adults. Nearly three-fourths of US adults failed to consume even this tiny amount.
  • While there is no RDA for boron, researchers suggest a minimum intake of 3 mg a day and a maximum of 20 mg/day. Unfortunately most of us consume only ½ to 1 mg of boron daily.

When choosing your bone health supplements, the research is clear that you should look for trace nutrients on the label. You’ll find them in my Better Bones Builder. You can learn more with my article 20 key bone-building nutrients.

 

References:

Beattie JH, Peace HS. The influence of a low-boron diet and boron supplementation on bone, major mineral and sex steroid metabolism in postmenopausal women. Br J Nutr. 1993 May;69(3):871-84.

Brodziak-Dopierała B1, Kwapuliński J, Sobczyk K, Wiechuła D. The content of manganese and iron in hip joint tissue. J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2013 Jul;27(3):208-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jtemb.2012.12.005. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

Conlan D, et al., Serum copper levels in elderly patients with femoral-neck fractures. Age Ageing. 1990;19(3):212-214

Eaton-Evans J, et al. Copper supplementation and the maintenance of bone mineral density in middle-aged women. J Trace Elem Exp Med. 1996;9:87-94

Hunt, CD. The biochemical effects of physiologic amounts of dietary boron in animal nutrition models. Environ Health Perspect 1994;102(suppl 7):35-43

Klevay, L. evidence of dietary copper and zinc deficiencies. JAMA, 1979; 241: 1917-18

Nielson, F. et al., Effect of dietary boron on mineral, estrogen, and testosterone metabolism in postmenopausal women. FASEB J 1 (1987): 394-397.

Pizzorno, L. Nothing Boring About Boron.  Integr Med (Encinitas). 2015 Aug:14(4):35-48.

Strain JJ. A reassessment of diet and osteoporosis–possible role for copper. Med Hypotheses. 1988 Dec;27(4):333-8.

Strause L, Saltman P, Glowacki J.The effect of deficiencies of manganese and copper on osteoinduction and on resorption of bone particles in rats. Calcif Tissue Int. 1987 Sep;41(3):145-50.

Strause LG, Hegenauer J, Saltman P, Cone R, Resnick D. Effects of long-term dietary manganese and copper deficiency on rat skeleton. J Nutr. 1986 Jan;116(1):135-41.

Strause L, Saltman P, Smith KT, Bracker M, Andon MB. Spinal bone loss in postmenopausal women supplemented with calcium and trace minerals. J Nutr. 1994;124(7):1060-1064.


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