Silica Health Benefits, Uses & Side Effects in Humans
Learn about silica health benefits, what it is and what it is used for, supplement forms in which it is available such as
Super silica complex ,bamboo silica, gel, liquid and vegetal silica plus side effects
What is Silica used for?
What is silica?
Silica is chemically known as silicon dioxide. This is an active form and is usually considered a macro-mineral. Silica is considered as one of the most important minerals in a human diet essential for various proper structural physiology. Studies on animals found that a silicon-deficient diet had a strong correlation with retarded growth and poor development of bones. This was done on rats. Another study of such kind discovered a link between silicon and accumulation of plaque in arteries leading to hypertension.
What is it made up of?
Silica is made of silicon and two oxygen atoms. This forms silicon dioxide. One common area you are likely to find silica in high amounts is in the mineral quartz. Quartz happens to be the most abundant mineral in this earth and is used in the manufacture of glass. It is colorless but may be white and water insoluble. However, there is a form of silica that are water soluble and includes silicic acid, which happens to be a collective term for such forms.
Silica finds a place in the various industries including the food industry where it used as an additive. Being an additive, it is clarifying agent in beverages, preventing caking in food preparations, modifying viscosity and preventing formation of foam.
It is also used in the pharmaceutical industry where it is used as an excipient in some drugs. Its most researched use is its benefit in health. Studies have been done in good number to prove that deficiencies lead to pathologies involving the bones, cartilage and collagen. These three have been implicated in the cause of deformed bones, mineral imbalance in the large bones and the vertebrae. From The Chemistry of silica and its potential health benefits (J Nutr, 2007), anecdotal reports find that toxicity reports and general safety in consumption of aqueous silica is still shaky and inconclusive.
Silica Health Benefits
There are a good number of health benefits of silica. They are as follows:
Benefits on Joints
Your joints need to be flexible and therefore needs to be free of wear and tear associated with your daily movements including stretching and twisting. It also needs to heal faster upon injury. This is possible when your joints can revitalize the ligaments, cartilage and collagen. Silica is important for the maintenance of the strength of these components of the joint. Silica supplementation can be useful in patients with arthritis.
Benefits to the bones
Silica has been studied and its use been implicated in the utilization of calcium by the body. It has also been shown that with age, you are likely to get senile malnutrition of silica and therefore puts you at a higher risk of obtaining fractures. Your teeth also need silica especially in the utilization of calcium which is essential for the development of healthy strong teeth. It also has been shown to increase the healing process of bone fractures and dislocation, improving the flexibility of healthy bones and maintaining the integrity of connective tissue. Silicon is more specifically required by the prolyhydroxylase enzyme in the synthetic pathway of collagen and bone.
Benefits on hair, the skin and nails
it might be a hard nut to crack when you try reasoning out the cause of thinning hair, flabby skin, acne or brittle nails. Well, this may be attributed to silica deficiency as it has a role to play in keeping the skin elastic, restoring the natural glow of skin, preventing cellulite and strengthening your nails. By flattening the scales of your hair follicles, it helps beautify and restore the glow. It can also be used along other medications or alternative therapy in the treatment and management of hair-related conditions such as alopecia. Find out more on how to use silica for hair growth
Blood flow and atherosclerosis
Silica prevents the accumulation of plaque in your arteries. This therefore prevents clog-up of your vessels and subsequent hypertension. It has been shown that the level of silica is higher in hearts that are healthy than pathologic ones. Its connection with collagen helps strengthen the cardiac muscles. By promoting the utilization of calcium, it prevents its build-up in and on arteries otherwise referred to as calcification. It also does this in other tissues especially surrounding the blood vessels. Arterial plaque caused by calcification is prevented in this manner.
Silica can act as a detox machine of toxins and heavy metals in the body. One such example is aluminium and alumunium toxicity. Its ability to bond aluminium prevents the absorption of this metal in the gut. This prevents the occurrence of toxicity and sequelae. Such sequelae may include the relation between aluminum in high amounts and Alzheimer’s disease and associated dementia.
Benefits on the immune system
Silica induces an alkaline environment that neutralizes excessive acidity that affects your immune system. By maintaining the integrity of the skin, nails and promoting faster healing process of wounds, it allows the skin to play its most important role as a barrier to pathogens. The digestive system is also part of the barriers to pathogens and by keeping the tissues in proper function, it prevents inflammation from parasites.
Restoration of the respiratory tract mucosa
Dehydration causes destruction and breach of the mucosa. Consumption of silica allows the mucosa to restore and play its role in the prevention of further entry of infection into the lower respiratory tract which may be more adverse.
A balance between calcium and magnesium in the body helps maintaining healthy levels of estrogen hormone. Estrogen is important in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Sources & Forms-Supplements, Bamboo, Gel, Vitamins, silica complex etc.
Best Sources & Forms in which it is available. Briefly describe each form, how it is used and pros
Here are some of the silica supplements that you may consider. Note that it is important to go through thorough research about these products from their websites and others but most importantly, do not forget to go through their list of disclaimers.
- Hubner Original Silica Gel 17 fl.oz – this is a colloidal gel that is sold as the Hubner Original Silicea Balsam in all markets apart from USA. The colloidal preparation of natural silica is a good source of elemental silicon in which microscopic particles of silica are dispersed in water. It is easier to absorb into the scalp.
- Nuviante Advanced Hair Growth Formula – the secret with this product lies in the beneficial composition of natural oils, proteins and sea-life polysaccharides. It contains horsetail, para-amino benzoic acid (PABA), biotin and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
- NutriStart Bamboo Silica Supplement – this extract helps to prevent premature aging of the skin of which the scalp is part. It also maintains vascular integrity and promotes the growth of thick strong hair. It contains bamboo silica.
- Holland & Barrett High Strength Silica Complex Caplets – contains a combination of calcium, magnesium, zinc, boron, horsetail and betaine hydrochloride that are useful in maintaining strong hair.
- Silica Advance – has been formulated by nutritional experts to provide nutrients to the health of our hair, skin and nails.
- MultiGuard Active – a great combination with silica 200 mg. Among its ingredients are B vitamins and vitamin K 75µg making it a unique blend of nutrients.
Warning by Medline Plus informs against trusting supplements labeled thiaminase-free that leads to vitamin B1 deficiency as not a guarantee of safety. This is because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate supplement companies.
Super silica complex
Super silica complex has horsetail leaf extract in combination with other nutrients and minerals of nutritional value to the bones, hair and nails. It contains 20 mg of natural silica.
Other Ingredients: calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Fortunately, among these mentioned ingredients, it does not contain starch, salt, sugar, corn, gluten, soy, dairy products, artificial coloring or any preservatives. This places it at a low risk of being a potential allergen. Judging from its ingredients, it is a vegetarian complex of silica. The magnesium plays a vital role in the metabolism of calcium and this has been proven in the pathology of hypocalcaemia whereby low magnesium values have been found in the serum. Aside from that, magnesium is essential in metabolisms a number higher than research meets; over 300 biochemical reactions. Its most important relation with silica is its importance in collagen formation whereby it is required for protein synthesis.
Supplements available for silica are very efficient and best choice in the treatment of silica deficiencies. The herb from which they are extracted is the Babuosa vulgaris commonly known as the Springtime Horsetail. It is also more commonly known as bamboo. The supply of silica from extracts of this herb deliver about 6 % – 9% of organic silica whereas bamboo silica offers 70 % silica.
Silica that is granular, porous and vitreous in form and made from sodium silicate. This is usually suspended in a liquid and therefore the wet form of the otherwise common, dry silica xerogel opposite of which is aerogel (silica gel). You might have encountered silica gel as beads in product paper bags. It is generally recognized as safe by the FDA and can be added to food as an additive for its nutritional value and benefits on your hair, nails and skin. It can also be applied on the scalp by rubbing and massaging for hair value.
This form came following the discovery of organic silica and not until the latter was understood that scientists discovered the liquid form. It was discovered by Loic le Ribault as edible and non-toxic. Its health benefits were also discovered especially its support on the connective tissue. More interesting, is that liquid silica is able to work on the connective tissue both in the inside and outside and is widely used in cosmetics for this disposition. However, it requires therapeutic monitoring and advice from a heath professional before taking it.
This form of silica is extracted via the atomized aqueous extraction process form the spring horsetail using water and controlled chemical solvents. It fortunately leads to a highly bio-available yield ensuring that the nutrients are retained and not lost. The yield is a form of othosilicic acid which is also listed in the FDA GRAS system (generally recognized as safe).
This process allows preservation of bioflavonoids that are not only nutritionally active but also necessary for the absorption of silica and retention of calcium, magnesium, manganese, boron, phosphorus and iron. Vegetal Silica helps restore natural beauty by providing valuable nutrients for the skin, bones, hair and nails
Other sources and forms
One source you should not forget is other foods such as;
- Beans especially green
Silica Side Effects
Side effects of silica may be caused by ingestion of normal amounts of silica but more commonly for a long period of time. If in excessive of the RDA amounts, toxicity arises but stay on the safe side and avoid use. Side effects include:
- Vitamin deficiency – silica supplements contain an enzyme, thiaminese. This destroys the vitamin B1 in the body and lead to deficiency associated with loss of muscle control and even paralysis if not treated.
- Kidney deterioration – kidney stones have been shown to arise from taking silicon-containing antacids for a long time. According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, severe kidney damage and general kidney deterioration which is irreversible, may accompany long-term use
- Polyuria – excessive urination may follow consumption of silica without plenty of water necessary for the replenish of water. Take eight glasses of water a day would suffice. Don’t overhydrate and end up losing your potassium.
Sources & References
- Martin K.R., The chemistry of silica and its potential health benefits, The Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging; 11(2):94-7.
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658806/
-  Seaborn CD, Nielsen FH. Silicon: a nutritional beneficence for bones, brains and blood vessels? Nutr Today 1993; 28:13–8.
- Schneider, Dr. Johannes, “Silica: A Vital Element for Good Health,” Focus on Nutrition No. 10, Journal of Health and Nutrition, 1990
-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22976072
- 5] http://www.naturalnews.com/021773_healthy_skin_care_products.html
-  http://www.webmd.com/kidney-stones/default.htm