The Health Benefits of Silicon

Trace mineral for hair growth

Woman in a store choosing a silicon supplement

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Silicon is a trace mineral which is essential to life in small amounts. This trace mineral is often taken as a supplement to assist with hair and nail growth. The trace element silicon is very different from silicone, which is a man-made rubber substance used for its sealing and protectant purposes.

The element silicon is part of most standard diets and can be found in beer, certain vegetables, coffee, and unfiltered water. Taking a silicon supplement in the form of a capsule may be recommended for those who are found to have conditions which would benefit from added silicon. Silicon can be taken as an oral supplement to help minimize the effects of osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease. There is growing evidence to support the connection of silicon and collagen, due to their shared association with the integumentary system, including healthy skin, bones, hair, and nails.

Commonly Known As

  • Silicon Dioxide
  • Silica
  • Phytolithic Silica
  • Silica Hydride
  • Silicea
  • Silicio
  • Silicium
  • Sodium Silicate

Health Benefits

The incorporation of silicon in any diet is recommended to enhance the protective factors it provides. Silicon may not always be readily available due to food preferences and diet trends. It is in these instances when silicon should be taken as a supplement.

Always consult your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet. Ask if there are any benefits to silicon supplements which you cannot receive from foods naturally high in silicon.

Strengthen the Skin, Hair, and Nails

Silicon’s primary and most well-known health benefit is assisting with strengthening skin, hair, and nails. This is due in part to silicon’s collaboration with collagen, which also serves to strengthen these parts of the body.

The presence of silicon, either as part of your diet or when taken as a supplement, can also complement the role of other minerals such as calcium, glucosamine, and vitamin D. These supplements also assist with strengthening the integumentary system of the body.

Formation and Strengthening of Bones

Silicon during early development assists in the age-appropriate formation of bones. The continued incorporation of silicon throughout the lifespan helps to prevent bone deformities and injuries while regenerating broken or weak bone structures. These benefits also strengthen joints by adding cartilage and allowing for smooth movements.

Ease Indigestion

While strong hair, nails, bones, and skin are important, the benefits of silicon do not end there. Due to its strengthening abilities, silicon is an important ingredient in antacids to assist with relieving heartburn and other gastrointestinal discomforts.

May Protect Against Neurological Disorders

The regular and consistent use of silicon supplements has been known to protect the health of bodily tissues from the effects of aluminum toxicity. This toxicity has been cited several times as a contributing factor to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Therefore, it can be inferred silicon plays an indirect role in preventing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. The ability silicon has for protecting tissues also indirectly allows it to protect the body against plaque buildup.

Other Benefits

Other secondary effects of silicon include the prevention of dehydration by increasing healthy mucous in the respiratory tract and decreasing the risk of injury to tendons and ligaments through an increase in collagen production.

Possible Side Effects

There are no known adverse side effects associated with the incorporation of silicon in diet or when taken as a supplement. There is little evidence either proving or disproving that silicon is unsafe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Consult your doctor before incorporating excess amounts of silicon in your health regimen.

Preliminary research suggests the chemical form of supplemental silicon may have an interaction with keratin due to the similarities in their structures and functions. Keratin is a protein known to positively impact the strength of hair and other visible bodily cartilage.

Precautions are noted for those individuals with digestive issues. Ingesting silicon will likely be less effective for individuals who have digestive issues, including inflammatory conditions or surgical removal of a portion of the digestive tract. Since this population of individuals will have overall difficulties with absorption and metabolism of anything ingested, silicon will likely pass right through their system being it is a non-essential nutrient.

Dosage and Preparation

Dosing of silicon is largely dependent on the primary intended purposes. Since silicon is not an essential nutrient, there is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for its usage.

There are mixed statements from independent researchers regarding the safe daily intake of silicon.

The National Institutes of Health states the daily intake of silicon should not exceed 10.5 milligrams (mg). Due to the varying advice on this topic, it is recommended that individuals consult a doctor for guidance on a safe yet effective dosage of silicon supplements.

Preparation is not needed for the supplemental form of silicon, as anyone can buy this product in capsule form and immediately add it to their daily health regime.

What to Look For

It is rare to find supplements with silicon as the sole ingredient. Since the maximum recommended dosage of silicon is so low, supplemental silicon is often combined with other trace elements which possess complementary effects. For example, several products can be found containing silicon, boron, and citric acid together.

Citric acid is rich in antioxidants which generally serve to protect the body. One of the most notable and relevant benefits of citric acid is its ability to decrease plaque buildup in the heart and brain. Boron is another supplement which assists with strengthening bones, making it beneficial for individuals with arthritis or osteoporosis.

Once you know the similarities of these products, it makes more sense why they are often found in combination. Looking for these combinations on the labels of supplements will help enhance the effects of taking silicon supplements.

As with any other supplement or supplement combination, silicon is not intended to cure or treat any of the previously mentioned conditions. Adding silicon supplements to your health regime can assist with preventing certain conditions while maintaining your overall health.

Be aware of labels which claim silicon can cure or treat any conditions, as these claims are false and prohibited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If labels claim to treat or cure certain conditions, this is a red flag which indicates the supplement has not been regulated by the FDA.

Getting Silicon Through the Diet

Since the recommended maximum daily amount of silicon is 10.5 mg, it is reasonable to say eating foods high in silicon could achieve the same effect as supplemental silicon. Many fruits and vegetables are high in silicon, including:

  • Bananas
  • Spinach
  • Mangoes
  • Green beans
  • Squash
  • Beets
  • Onions
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Turnips

Other healthy sources of silicon are barley, nuts, and red lentils.

Other Questions

What are some signs of silicon deficiency?

Discussion of supplemental silicon also brings up the question of silicon deficiencies. Individuals with silicon deficiencies may have:

  • Weak teeth and gums
  • Brittle nails
  • Brittle hair which frequently falls out
  • Thin and wrinkled skin
  • Slow wound healing
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Insomnia
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Weak bones which may progress into a diagnosis of osteoporosis

Gastrointestinal issues may also arise in those individuals who have a silicon deficiency, making it a common mineral deficiency in those with eating disorders.

How much silicon is too much?

Individuals have also voiced concern regarding how much silicon is harmful to a person. Dietary and supplemental forms of silica carry no safety precautions and are considered safe.

The same cannot be said for the natural form of crystalline silica. This type of silica originates from the Earth’s crust and can be found in sand, stone, concrete, and mortar. Prolonged exposure to this form of silica can cause significant respiratory issues including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

What is bamboo silica?

Supplemental bamboo silica is a product similar to silicon supplement. This consists of bamboo extract which is composed of nearly 70% silicon dioxide. This type of supplement holds all the same intended benefits as regular silicon supplements, including the ability to strengthen hair, skin, nails, and bones.

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Article Sources

  1. Nie J. Exposure to Aluminum in Daily Life and Alzheimer's Disease. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2018;1091:99-111. doi:10.1007/978-981-13-1370-7_6

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