Posted on October 28, 2015 -
The mineral Silica, in supplement form, is most often sold as a beauty aid because it improves skin elasticity, and hair and nail growth. But silica also has a host of other functions in the body, including keeping bones strong, and maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. When you add all that up, silica qualifies as a dramatic anti-aging element, one that everyone needs.
Most of the health and beauty benefits of silica are based on it being required by the body for collagen formation. Collagen is our main skin protein, and is the “glue” that holds us together.
Young people have a good amount of silica in their bodies, and they have strong bones and teeth, flexible joints, and healthy, glowing hair and skin. But, as we age, our silica levels decline, and as a result, aging people show a wide range of symptoms linked to the ensuing reduction of collagen in the body. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: arthritic conditions, dental problems, gum disease, hardening of the arteries, osteoporosis, and wrinkled skin.
Let’s have a look at the:
The average daily intake of silica is roughly between 20 mg and 30mg (based on the Framingham study), and the recommended therapeutic dose is 2 to 3 times that amount. Unfortunately, most of the foods that we eat are deficient in silica, since many of our foods have lost minerals due to being over-processed, and have also been grown in soil that is demineralized, due to erosion of topsoil, and use of incomplete chemical fertilizers.
Two of the foods highest in very absorbable silica are beer (which can be a food, if made well), and green beans. Other foods with high silica content include rice, oats, and the herb, nettle. These are followed by fresh produce such as lettuce, asparagus, onion, cucumber, strawberry, leek, cabbage, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, celery, cauliflower and rhubarb.
But, these foods will only be rich in silica if they are organic: the silica must first be present in the soil before the plant can obtain and store it. Because most foods we consume do not contain sufficient silica, and because it depletes from the body daily, most adults should take a silica supplement on a semi-regular basis.
Silica supplements are often touted as “the secret of the stars,” due to the ability of silica to prevent wrinkling of the skin, which it does by supporting collagen in the production of connective tissue. Collagen is dependent on silica, as well as adequate amino acids (found in protein) and vitamin C.
By working to help produce collagen, and working with collagen to produce other connective tissue, silica improves hydration and skin elasticity, preventing, and even reversing, dry, rough, wrinkled skin, and generating a more youthful appearance.
And, because silica is taken internally, unlike topical creams, skin improvement occurs over the entire body. This is of value to our immune system because healthy skin is our first line of defense against micro-organisms, preventing the skin from being penetrated by bacteria, fungus, and viruses. And, our skin also protects us against irritants and allergens. Silica will also stimulate rapid healing of skin tissue damaged by burns, or wounds.
Silica is vital to bone growth and density, and works with calcium and magnesium to give bones both hardness and flexibility. Silica increases bone calcium absorption, even in those with osteoporosis due to aging. Animal studies have shown that diets low in silica will result in low bone density, and as we get older, our silica levels decline, and our bones weaken.
This bone-building function of silica is again based on collagen. Silica is required to produce the collagen matrix within bone that calcium is deposited upon. As a result, it is impossible for the body to form bone without silica. Calcium can make bones harder, but it offers no flexibility to them, which is what silica does. This flexibility is important to prevent breakage when the bones are exposed to a shock (as in a fall). But, if one should fall and break a bone, then silica will speed up the healing of the fracture, more effectively than calcium, and will also reduce scarring at the location of the fracture.
Like bones, teeth are part of the skeletal structure, and since silica is part of bone building it will also be required to maintain healthy teeth. But, in the case of teeth, silica also helps to generate new enamel, working to prevent cavities and preserve the teeth. And, since silica works with collagen, and collagen is required for healthy gums, silica also helps to prevent bleeding gums, and gum recession. Gum problems can contribute to loosening of the teeth, and tooth loss.
Mucopolysaccharides are natural substances produced by the body that work with collagen as a tissue connector. All connective and elastic tissues, including collagen, elastin, and mucopolysaccharides, are rich in silica when in their healthy state. But as levels of silica decline with age, these tissues degenerate correspondingly.
Dr. A. Charnot has researched the relationship between silica and degenerative tissue, and joint diseases. He discovered that such conditions are often accompanied by a deficiency of silica in the body. Silica’s ability to enhance connective tissues has made it effective in the treatment of muscle-skeletal disorders, including arthritis and rheumatism. Silica also stimulates chondroblasts to deposit chondroitin sulfate and hyaluronic acid into the cartilage matrix, and will improve the effectiveness of glucosamine sulfate, in effect repairing degenerated joints.
Even if one doesn’t have arthritis, silica supplements can help to improve joint function, and work to strengthen cartilage and tendons, thereby reducing aches and pains, and improving overall flexibility.
The elasticity of the aortic walls lessens as a result of a decline of silica content in the aortic tissues. Atherosclerotic (“hardened”) arteries usually contain dramatically less silica than healthy arteries, thus silica helps to prevent hardening of the arteries.
As far back as the 1950’s, scientists found that hardened arterial walls showed higher than normal levels of calcium, and lower than normal levels of silica. Now we know that this occurs because silica is essential to keep blood vessel walls both supple and strong.
Klaus Schwarz, M.D. reviewed a survey of heart deaths in Finland (1959 to 1974), in order to find out why the death rate from coronary heart disease in men of eastern Finland was two times higher than men in western Finland. What he discovered was that silica was not present in the drinking water in the West, where coronary heart disease rates were twice as high, and was present in the drinking water found the East, where the heart disease rates were much lower.
In the natural healing field it is widely believed that aluminum buildup in the body is a risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminum is prevalent in the modern environment, found in cookware, foil used to wrap foods, cigarette smoke, cosmetics, some beverage containers, and in a number of vaccines.
Silica will inhibit the absorption of aluminum into the body, and in fact, may bind to aluminum and allow the body to remove it, via the urine. So, by reducing the amount of aluminum we absorb over the years, and helping the body to remove what is there already, silica plays an important role in reducing aluminum buildup in the brain, in turn reducing the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
In one study, subjects were given beer, naturally high in silica, and it was observed that as the silica from the beer left the body, it took aluminum with it. The study opened by acknowledging that it was already well proven that: “The chemical affinity of silicic acid (a form of silica) for aluminium has been shown to reduce the bioavailability of aluminum in studies of human gastrointestinal absorption.”
And, in conclusion, this study went so far as to suggest that: “Silicic acid’s effect on the depletion of aluminium stores and reduced GI absorption suggest its addition to municipal water supplies may be a low risk public health measure to reduce the aluminum burden in the general population.” (Ann Clin Lab Sci. 1996 May-Jun;26(3):227-33. “The role of silicic acid in the renal excretion of aluminium.” Bellia JP1, et al.)
While some hair loss is due to hair falling out, and is very difficult to reverse, another cause of hair loss is hair breaking off, due to a lack of silica, and this is easy to reverse, simply by supplementing with silica.
Silica is a primary component of hair, and is required for maintaining the strength, thickness, and flexibility of the hair shaft. It will also give shine to hair, contributing to a lustrous and beautiful head of hair, in both men and women.
Like hair and skin, our nails are also dependent on a healthy supply of collagen, and fragile nails that break easily, can be a sign of silica deficiency. In fact, even the medical profession has discovered that certain collagen disorders can be partially diagnosed in patients by observing negative changes in their finger nails. As it does with hair, silica supplementation will improve the strength, thickness, and shine, of your nails (both finger and toe).
The majority of digestive tract and stomach disorders are, in part, the result of a degradation of the mucous membrane lining these areas. Because of its involvement in maintaining and building connective tissue, silica has a role to play here too. Taking silica, along with the other nutrients required for building mucous membranes (vitamins A and D, and iodine, especially), can help to reduce inflammation in the intestines and stomach, and contribute to resolving constipation, diarrhea, and ulcers.
Taking a Silica Supplement
When you start taking a silica supplement you will need to take it for a few months in order to see the benefits. This is because the increased silica intake needs to be present throughout the regeneration, and new growth, of the hair, skin, and nails, and connective tissues.
NutriStart offers a silica product that is made from Bamboo extract. Bamboo extract is the richest known source of silica: it contains over 70% organic silica, and is 10 times more potent than horsetail silica. This plant-based form of silica is in a natural extracted form, along with plant co-factors, unlike products made of “orthosilicic acid”, which is a laboratory produced, isolated element. Since one capsule of NutriStart Bamboo Silica provides 70mg of elemental silica, it easily covers our daily requirement for this essential mineral nutrient.
For more information on Bamboo Silica follow this link to a highly comprehensive and well-researched article about the benefits of bamboo extract for hair and health.