Did you know the second-most common element in the earth’s crust is silica? Most probably not! And do you know about the benefits of silica ?
You might be intrigued to find out just how much silica there is out there. A rough answer for you is that 90% of the earth’s crust is made up of Silicate minerals.
These are rock-forming minerals made up of silicate groups, the largest and most important class of minerals and this is also what we class Si02 (silicon dioxide) or Silica as.
And there’s me thinking it was just that gel sachet you find when you buy a fresh pair of shoes!
It turns out that as well as keeping packaging dry and making up the earth’s crust, silica can actually have some real benefits to the human body.
In this article I’m going to give you all the info you need about the abundant element that no-one knows about.
Oh and before we start, silica is also referred to as silicon, Si02 and silicon dioxide.
8 Health Benefits of Silica
Silica for bone health
Research shows that the primary benefit of silica is to promote healthy bones. It does this in three key ways according to www.algaecal.com :
1. Silica helps stimulate osteoblasts (your bone-building cells) by increasing protein collagen formation.
Collagen is a protein that provides the framework of your bones, while calcium and other minerals fill in and strengthen that framework. This combination makes your bones both flexible and strong enough to withstand stress like falls.
A healthy amount of silica in your diet can therefore increase bone strength and bone density.
2. Silica’s role in the body can also inhibit osteoclasts (your bone-resorbing cells) by directly discouraging bone resorption. This is when osteoclasts break down the tissue in bone and release the minerals.
This results in the transfer of calcium from your bone tissue into your blood.
3. “Charge” your bone formation
You know how the technology hotbed in California is called Silicon Valley?
Well, that’s because silicon is a key ingredient inside all that technology. Silicon provides electric charges so your phones, computers, and tablets run properly. And it does the same for your bones. In fact, your bone mineralisation takes place in negatively charged areas in the bone.
Over the past 30 years, there has been an extensive research review on the role of dietary silica.
In the Framingham Offspring Cohort Study, researchers noted at least 40 mg of daily silicon accounted for 10% higher bone mineral density than lower intakes around 14 mg of silicon per day. (This was especially true for the denser outer bone — called cortical bone — in both men and premenopausal women’s hips.)
Another silicon study found more of the same in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. And this time, the spongy inner bone — known as trabecular bone — benefitted from silicon supplements.
Study participants were divided into three groups: a control group; a group given an injection with 16.5 mg of silicon each week for four months; and a third group receiving an oral silicon supplement with 27.5 mg per week for three months. The women followed their normal diets, without supplemental calcium or vitamin D3.
Both silicon groups enjoyed significant increases in trabecular bone volume compared to the control group.
There is no question that silica plays a very important role in bone formation and in bone health, and like Vitamin K2 and Vitamin D3, Silica seems to be much more important for strong bones than Calcium.
Professor Kervran proved that 14 atoms of silica and 6 atoms of carbon make 20 atoms of calcium.
He gave chickens silica and no calcium and they produced solid, hard calcium eggshells. When he took the silica out of their diet, the eggshells were soft and couldn’t form the calcium.
Silica for Skin health
Silica is sometimes called the “beauty mineral” because it promotes healthy skin by improving skin elasticity, nail growth, and hair.
Many health problems associated with age are a result of our inability to maintain adequate collagen production.
Joint deterioration, cellulite, dry skin, brittle bones, weak teeth and gums, hardening of the arteries, or even inability to digest food properly are related to collagen deficiency.
When we are younger, high silica levels in our body help maintain our skin, bones and joints are healthy and flexible.
As we age, Silica levels decline and without adequate tissue levels of this mineral, we develop many of the symptoms of ageing including osteoarthritis, weakened digestion, cellulite, or wrinkled skin.
Silica stimulates the rapid regrowth of damaged skin tissue. It is important for optimal synthesis of collagen and for activating the hydroxylation enzymes, improving skin strength and elasticity.
Careful analyses of scientific research on silica leads to a clear conclusion that silica is absolutely essential for the body to create and maintain collagen.
Silica may help combat acne by removing toxins, boosting the production of collagen and rebuilding the connective tissue. This is why silica is present in almost all over the counter skincare products.
Silica for Strong Hair
According to Health Aid human hair contains 90 micrograms of silica per every gram.
Nutritional supplements containing silica help to maintain and strengthen hair follicles as well as helping to prevent hair loss.
Silica for Healthy Joints
Silica supplements can be helpful in improving the flexibility of the joints as they strengthen the connective tissues by building collagen.
This can also help fight against the development of arthritis.
Silica for a Healthy Heart
Silica may help maintain healthy arteries, blood vessels and prevent heart disease.
This was first brought about in 1958 when it was found that arteriosclerotic artery walls showed excessively high levels of calcium and lower than normal levels of silica.
Silicon for a Healthy Digestive System
Most disorders of the stomach and digestive tract involve a degradation of the lining (mucosa) in the G.I. tract. Silica is an essential element involved in rebuilding and maintaining these tissues.
Silica for a Strong Immune System
Silica has an alkalising effect that is important in maintaining a balanced PH inside the body.
In addition, silica also supports the immune system by helping manufacture antibodies.
Silica to combat Cellulite
Deficiency of collagen in the body causes cellulite. Silica increases the production of collagen and helps to prevent and treat cellulite.
Best Sources of Silica
As we said at the beginning, if you want to find a source of silica then you don’t have far to look. But getting the silica you need doesn’t have to involve you digging for rocks.
You can boost your dietary intake of this essential mineral with food sources that are also a basic part of a healthy diet. Vegetables such as leafy greens, and green beans are great sources of silica as well as whole grains and even beer and red wine (any excuse!).
Beer is an excellent source of silicon dioxide because two of its primary components, barley, and hops, are rich in the important mineral.
High-bran cereal is a potent source of silicon and one of your best bets for seamlessly adding silica to your diet.
Here are some more common places that you can find silica-rich foods to improve your diet according to Algaegel.com:
Unrefined whole grains:
- Rice Bran
- Wheat Bran
Fruits and Veggies:
- Root vegetables
Bamboo Extract is the richest known source of silica as it contains 70% organic silica and therefore is significantly more potent source of silica than even horsetail herb, regarded as one of the highest natural sources of this mineral.
Side effects of Silica
You may be sceptical about silicon dioxide and if it is so good then why isn’t everyone talking about it?
Well, as with everything there are two sides to a story and there are some side effects or drawbacks to taking silica, if it’s done in the wrong way.
Silicosis is a fatal lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica. Exposure to silica in the air and this disease occur mostly in people with jobs such as mining, sandblasting, quarrying, construction, and steelwork.
But ingesting silicon dioxide is very different from breathing it, and research from the World Health Organization shows that very little of the silica we eat or drink stays in our bodies. Most of it is flushed regularly by our kidneys (World Health Organization, 1973).
Silicon dioxide is also used in processed foods as an anti-caking agent so that any moisture that gets in doesn’t cause clumping. The FDA did evaluate the safety of silica used as a food additive and deemed it safe (FDA, 2019).
Recommended daily intake (RDI)
Although evidence points to the fact that that silica is essential for health, no official RDI.
The safe upper limit for supplements in EU countries is set at 700mg of silica per day. The US doesn’t seem to offer any advice for it’s safe upper limit.
Well after all that hopefully you now have a better idea of the health benefits of silica and far from being just the silica gel sachet in your shoebox, how beneficial it can be for healthy hair, flexible joints and stronger bones.