Silica can be found everywhere, from animals and plants (virtually every living organisms) to the earth and the environment we live in. In humans, silica presents in small quantity, predominantly found in connective tissues such as hair, skin, nails, bones, teeth, cartilage and blood vessels.
What silica does?
Silica helps with the production of collagen. And since collagen is one of the major components that make up connective tissues which provide structure and support to literally all tissues within the body, collagen deficiency can weaken the structure of connective tissues and lead to a whole lot of health problems. Silica, therefore, seems like a promising agent for treating many health problems.
Despite of that, scientist has only started to look into the potential therapeutic use of silica in the past few decades. To date, many silica-containing supplements are marketed for hairs, skin and nails, as well as strong teeth and bones.
Researchers have found that silica appeared beneficial in brittle nail syndrome and osteoporosis. Apart from that, there are also claims that silica may lower the chance and severity of atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of arteries) and reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease.
Sources of silica:
As previously mentioned, silica presents in plants and animals. The silica content in plant-derived foods such as cereals, oats and root vegetables are higher than animal-derived products such as meat and dairy. Horsetail, which is a type of herb, has also been used to make dietary supplements because of its high silica content. Guess where else do we get our daily dose of silica from? Drinking water, mineral water and even beer! Did I mention that silica is also commonly used as food additive for many different purposes! (But let’s not get into too much details on that!)
Nevertheless, it should be noted that though silica can be found in many food sources we consumed daily, not all of them are well absorbed.
Fortunately, nowadays you can easily find supplements containing silica that are well absorbed by our body on the markets.
Potential adverse effects associated with oral intake of silica include silica stones with long term therapy.
Toxicity of inhaled silica is thought irrelevant to oral exposure.
As with any other dietary supplements, you are advised to talk to your health professionals before you start taking them.
Jurkić LM, Cepanec I, Pavelić SK, Pavelić K. Biological and therapeutic effects of ortho-silicic acid and some ortho-silicic acid-releasing compounds: New perspectives for therapy. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2013;10:2. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-10-2.