Your Boron Supplement Does These 5 Important Things

Sure, the word “boron” probably makes you think of a sci-fi movie character, but funky name aside, boron is actually a vital trace mineral required for your physical health.

That’s because it’s an “activator,” as described in the journal PLoSOne, which means it assists in or activates many functions in the body. A study in the journal Integrative Medicine, for example, shows that boron increases the body’s ability to absorb calcium and magnesium.

A boron deficiency can be serious—rendering cells unable to properly transfer nutrients—but luckily, boron is abundant in foods (to name a few: dates, avocado, soybeans, nuts, chickpeas, peanut butter, kidney beans). People who don’t have a varied diet can consider a boron supplement.

Here are five important ways boron contributes to your health:

1. Boron For The Bones

One of boron’s superpowers is in the bone-building process. According to a study done by the journal FASEB, boron initiates estrogen by helping convert vitamin D into an active state. Then, estrogen improves the absorption of calcium.

Boron also helps to prevent vitamin D deficiency, which is linked to osteoporosis. That’s because when the bone’s metabolic function is working correctly, osteoporosis is less likely to occur, indicates a study in Clinical Cases in Mineral and Bone Metabolism. If osteoporosis is diagnosed, boron can play a major role in helping the body replace lost calcium.

2. Boron For Teeth & Gum Health

Got strong teeth? You may have boron to thank. Boron also plays an important role in healthy teeth, gums, and the prevention of tooth decay. By converting the vitamin D to its active form, it increases calcium uptake and absorption into the bones and teeth. If you do have tooth decay, you could kick up the amount of boron in your diet, or via supplements.

3. Boron For Arthritis

The journal Environ Health Perspect also shows that boron may assist in preventing some forms of arthritis. In fact, the study says that in some places in the world where boron intake is typically low, incidence of arthritis is higher. On the other hand, areas of the world with higher intakes of boron have lower levels of arthritis.

Related: What It’s Like To Have Arthritis In Your 20s

4. Boron & Hormones

Another FASEB study also shows that boron can affect the metabolism of steroid hormones—especially the sex hormones. Supplementing with boron increases low testosterone levels in men and estrogen levels in menopausal women. This could be great news for those who want to jumpstart their libido. Or for weight lifters who want to boost their testosterone levels.

Boron bonus points: The mineral may also provide some relief from vaginal yeast infections. According to American Family Physician, women can use a 600-mg vaginal suppository administered twice daily for 14 days.

5. Boron for Cognitive Performance

Looking to improve your cognitive function? Boron may be able to support that. According to a study done by Biological Trace Element Research, low levels of boron may be linked to poor performance of motor speed tasks, poor attention span and short-term memory, and poor dexterity.

Related: Shop boron tablets, capsules, and fluid.

I Drank Kombucha Every Day For Two Weeks—Here’s What My Gut Had To Say

I’ll just come right out and say it: My stomach has always been trouble. Fried food usually leaves me curled up on the couch for hours. Anything loaded with carbs or sugar? Cramp city. The older I get, the more sensitive my stomach becomes.

Over the years I’ve tried just about every gut remedy out there. My desk at work is well-stocked with ginger tea, I faithfully take a probiotic every day, I guzzle water, and I eat a lot of fiber. Still, though, my stomach doesn’t always cooperate. (I’ll spare you the details, but you know what I mean.)

The latest gut-friendly trend to make its way onto my to-do list: kombucha. The fizzy fermented drink—made by adding sugar, yeast, and bacteria to tea—has invaded the refrigerated section of even the most basic grocery store after winning over my fellow health nuts with its funky flavors and promise of probiotics. (These good bacteria live in our gut and help us digest food, destroy harmful microorganism, and produce vitamins, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.)

A sucker for trendy health foods, I was already a fan of other probiotic-packed fermented foods like kimchi, and I’d splurged on a bottle of kombucha here and there—but it wasn’t until after a belly-decimating, cheese and pastry-filled trip to Europe that I was ready to really commit to drinking it regularly. My gut needed some serious TLC.

Since I’d recently cut out dairy (yep, even my morning Greek yogurt got the boot), I wondered if it was time I find myself another fermented food to replace it with—and kombucha seemed like an easy way to bump up my daily probiotic intake. I mean, I wasn’t about to commit to eating kimchi every day, but I was already used to drinking lots of water, so why not throw some kombucha into my daily sips? Easy peasy.

So I stopped by the East Rutherford, New Jersey, The Vitamin Shoppe to stock up on kombucha. (Complete with eight kegs of Aqua ViTea kombucha and refillable glass bottles and growlers, this place is like a Health Enthusiast heaven.) I filled a growler with a mix of the ginger and turmeric flavors and headed home, ready to rock my gut’s world.

Related: 8 Foods And Drinks For When You Just Can’t Go To The Bathroom

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The Experiment

To find out if drinking this effervescent beverage on the reg would really make a difference, I decided to have a glass every morning for the next two weeks. (Aqua ViTea’s website recommended starting with four to six ounces a day, so I stuck with a small glassful.)

My first morning of the experiment, as I sipped my way through a glass of the bubbly tea while checking my email, I noticed that I felt super-full—but not in a heavy, just-ate-a-cheeseburger kind of way. Simply sated.

And I had a second realization: Kombucha could really get things moving. Not in a frightening Bridesmaids-movie-scene kind of way, but whoa.

The same pattern continued through the rest of the work week. I drank my glass of kombucha about a half-hour or so after breakfast, hit the bathroom sometime around mid-morning, and felt awake and satisfied until lunch. After a few days, I also noticed that I felt more awake and alert as I went about my morning routine. Placebo effect or not, I didn’t mind. (My kombucha was made from a blend of black and green tea—but I learned that very little of the caffeine in those teas survives the fermentation process. Kombucha does contain some B vitamins, which we associate with energy, though.)

I rationed out my 64-ounce growler so it’d last me the full week, and refilled it with my turmeric-ginger mix for week two. By then, I looked forward to my fizzy sips each morning, especially because my stomach felt so great.

As my gut got used to the daily bubbles, I didn’t feel quite as full after drinking them. Somewhere in the middle of week two, I started drinking a second glass around mid-afternoon, when an itch for something sweet and a dip in energy hit. I felt revitalized—and you know that slightly groggy, sloth-like feeling of a meal lingering in your stomach? (I call this the ‘after-lunch blahs’.) Gone.

I was becoming a kombucha-holic—with less than a third of my second growler left with four more days to go in my kombucha streak—so I started diluting my bubbly beverage in a little sparkling water to avoid yet another growler refill. My growler lasted through the end of week two, though just barely.

kombucha selfie

The Verdict

After two full weeks of kombucha-drinking, my toilet time was more regular than it’d been in a while and I felt like my stomach was moving and grooving—no gas, no bloating. A major win in my book, considering I was used to feeling like there was a balloon in my stomach at any point of the day.

I also no longer felt the need to brew up a double mug of green tea for a caffeine boost around lunchtime; my mind was clear and my focus steady. A splash of kombucha in plain bubbly water kept my taste buds happy (and made it much easier to stay hydrated) all day long.

I’ll definitely continue to hit up the kombucha bar at The Vitamin Shoppe for my weekly growler fill-up, and may even get myself a second growler to stash at home. Yeah, I love it that much.

Related: Shop a variety of drinks, from sparkling waters to teas to energy-boosters.

The Weird Thing I Do For Stress Relief—That Works Every Time

I can vividly remember the first time I realized that I could attain a sensation of calm by totally natural (albeit totally weird) means. I was sitting in my high school science class waiting silently to take a final; our teacher was quietly passing out the test packets, one by one. We were all in the zone, anxiously hoping we’d do well (hello: the periodic table isn’t exactly riveting subject matter).

And as she passed out the tests, the sounds of the paper—gently swooshing against the others, being written on by pencils—made me sort of feel, well, calm and tingly. Totally at ease. (Yes, you heard me correctly: The sound of the paper made me feel at-ease. What!)

You know when you suddenly shudder out of nowhere? It was like that—all along my scalp and back. The paper sounds made me feel sleepy, while also sort of ticklish. It was intoxicating, euphoric, and, clearly, tremendously strange.

Related: What Happened When I Drank Golden Milk For 30 Days Straight

I would come to experience this phenomenon for years, but I had absolutely no context or language for it. I told one friend about it (she was one of the only people who wouldn’t be convinced that I was a serial killer or total maniac). Years later, that same friend asked me if I’d heard about something called ASMR. It sounded like an abbreviation for a nerdy science conference or a sexual kink. Naturally, I needed to know.

“ASMR is this weird phenomenon where people have all sorts of pleasurable reactions to noises,” she said—which didn’t exactly sound not creepy—“and it sounds like what you’ve experienced before. Being relaxed by sounds and stuff,” she said.

Yes, you heard me correctly: The sound of the paper made me feel at-ease. What!

Sure enough, ASMR had me pegged.

Defined as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, ASMR is an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation (in response to slow movements, whispers, soft sounds, or even personal attention) on the skin around the head, back, and neck. But it’s also very internal; it’s a feeling, a mind-state.

While there remains a need for more in-depth studies, science hasn’t junked the phenomenon either. According to Peer J, ASMR is experienced by thousands of people. It causes euphoria, relaxation, and feelings of general wellness.

I took to the Internet for further investigation, and sure enough, I got more information than I could have imagined. YouTube was filled with ASMR videos—actually, it was a fully-formed community. Thousands of videos (viewed millions of times) offered up ASMR “triggers” created by ASMR artists, or ASMRtists; these videos showcased people whispering, or doing smalls tasks or talking with mindful movements and making deliberate, soft noises.

Related: Shop products to promote stress relief and mood support.

I have to admit this: At first, I was deeply put off by these videos; they seemed completely foreign and bizarre. A few of them were blatantly sexualized (though this was not the majority at all), and the rest were just overwhelming: forty-five minutes of watching someone whisper or tap? What sort of strange kink is this, I wondered?

Half of the videos were focused on role-playing videos, like one ASMRtist who pretended to be a hotel receptionist. She’d click her keyboard lightly, and tap her pen against paper, and whisper to the viewer, who was supposed to be “checking in to a hotel.” I’d never, ever seen anything like it.

Forty-five minutes of watching someone whisper or tap their fingers? What sort of strange kink is this, I wondered?

It was a community-created corner of the Internet and once I got over the confusion, I actually felt grateful to have found it. I found the videos soothing, sleep-inducing, and peaceful. Some of them are actually really funny or educational, so they’re sort of like stress-reducing tools that offer up other benefits, to boot.

Related: Shop yoga accessories to get your de-stress on.

It wasn’t just me. Thousands of commenters consistently thank the artists (many of whom make a living by creating YouTube ASMR content) for helping them sleep, easing their stress, reducing their symptoms of PTSD, or giving them (not x-rated) tingles at the end of the day.

81 percent of ASMR enthusiasts engage with it before bed, using headphones, and 80 percent of participants said it had a positive effect on their mood.

Suddenly, ASMR stopped being “that weird thing that happens to me sometimes” and started becoming a legitimate tool for stress relief. It wasn’t weird. It was real.

Now that my secret phenomenon had a name (and one that apparently even celebrities celebrated), I wanted to know if there was some real science behind it. What actually caused the tingles? After all, millions of people weren’t just making it up!

I found that some researchers, like in this piece published by IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education, argued for the use of ASMR as a tool for stress relief, despite their own understanding that ASMR necessitates additional research. It was a start—and I dug for more.

The International Journal of School & Educational Psychology likened it to the notion of Frisson, which is a sensation somewhat like the shivering caused by emotional stimuli. And according to one study done by Peer J, 81 percent of ASMR enthusiasts engage with it before bed, using headphones, and 80 percent of participants said it had a positive effect on their mood, especially immediately after listening. Interestingly enough, people with depression benefited the most.

While I’ve tried to figure out the exact science behind the sensation, there are no hard answers. I know others are trying to figure it out, too. I recognize that there are loads of people who probably think ASMR enthusiasts or artists are freaks, but the budding conversation around the phenomenon comforts me a bit.

Until I understand it better, I’ll be over here, listening to people whisper into a binaural microphone, as I fall asleep happier and less anxious than I was before.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Your Doctor About Vitamin D

I get a lot of people these days asking me whether or not they should have their vitamin D levels checked, and for good reason: It’s difficult to know on your own if your levels have fallen too low. Several factors are at play: obesity, living in a northern latitude, certain medications, dark skin color, and the widespread use of sunscreen, which diminishes your body’s ability to produce vitamin D. Despite living in often sunny New Mexico, a blood test showed that even my levels were low.

If you’re wondering about your own vitamin D levels, watch my T Chats video, and check in with your primary care provider.

Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. is a leading medical expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements, herbal medicine, women’s health, and natural medicine.

This Smoothie Packs Protein, Superfoods, And Collagen—And Tastes Amazing

Smoothies are an easy, filling, and delicious way to slug back tons of nutrients we might otherwise miss out on. (Because, really, how many of us wake up craving spinach for breakfast?)

Packed with 16 grams of protein for your muscles, collagen for your hair, skin, and nails, plus stomach-soothing ginger and vitamin-rich spinach, this green drink deserves a gold star—and a spot in our daily routine.

It’s made with two of our faves, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides and plnt vanilla protein powder, for a bevvie that does your body good. Grab your blender and get to it!

Related: Check out more of Vital Proteins’ collagen supps. 

3 Things Women Can Do Now To Improve Their Health

Now is the time to take your health and wellness into your own hands. There are a few simple things that women in particular can do to take charge and make a large impact on their physical health and wellbeing.

1. Being conscious of what we put into our bodies has the power to change lives and health.

Use food as medicine to fuel and nourish the body. Eat a wholesome diet with foods that are as close to nature as you can, and utilize the potent medicinal properties of many common culinary herbs and spices. I also suggest that most women take a daily multivitamin to supplement against potential gaps in their diet.

2. Find a way to move mindfully.

It can be easy to underestimate how much we eat and overestimate our movement. Fitness trackers are a popular way of measuring whether we’re on track to meet our daily recommended 10,000 steps. The benefits of regular exercise are amazing. Just 30-45 minutes most days of the week can reduce the risk of heart disease, protect our bones, and boost our mood.

3. A healthy body is nothing without a sound spirit.

The practice of self-love and self-acceptance helps us to change the things we can, while learning to accept those thing that are immovable and unchangeable. Instead of worrying about an idealized version of yourself, respect where you are at this moment in your journey, and use your ambitions and dreams to respectfully and gently work towards a better you. Find out more in my T Chats video.

Tieraona Low Dog, M.D. is a leading medical expert in the fields of integrative medicine, dietary supplements, herbal medicine, women’s health, and natural medicine.