Silicon Benefits, Dietary Sources, Dietary Intake, Side Effects & Safety

Photo by Paul M on Unsplash

Over 90% of the Earth’s crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen. As a metalloid, silicon has been used in many industrial applications including use as an additive in the food and beverage industry. As a result, humans come into contact with silicon through both environmental exposures but also as a dietary component. It is necessary for the diet as it increases the overall benefits of vitamin D, glucosamine, and calcium.

There are several conditions that silicon has been scientifically proven to help with, as well as some that are yet to be proved; however, scientists seem to agree that the mineral can have a positive effect on the body and no harm seems to come if it is taken properly as a health supplement. However, with ongoing research, health benefits of this element have been clearly demonstrated. Now let’s look some of the most important benefits of silicon:

But first, let’s clarify something: do not confuse silicon with silicone. Silicone is the name of a group of materials resembling plastic that contain silicon, oxygen, and other chemicals. Silicone is used to make breast implants, medical tubing, and a variety of other medical devices.

Health Benefits Of Silicon

1. Strengthens Bones

Silicon has been found to play a vital role in assisting calcium for the growth, maintenance and flexibility of joints and bones. It induces flexibility in the bones by increasing the amount of collagen, which is the protein component of bones. Silicon also increases the rate of healing of bone dislocations and fractures. It is necessary for the maintenance of skeletal health. It elevates the deposition of different minerals like calcium in the bone tissues.

2. Skin Care

Silicon is important for optimal collagen synthesis. Silicon is crucial for activating the hydroxylation enzymes for crosslinking collagen, which improves the strength and elasticity of this fibrous protein. Better collagen means better skin, more elasticity and fewer wrinkles.

3. Promotes Healing

Silicon plays a key role in protection against many diseases like tuberculosis and others which are related to mucous membranes. It also helps in increasing the healing rate during fractures. Its supplements help reduces the risk of various cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes.

4. Hair

The outer shaft of hair, that provides elasticity and strength, is rich in Silicon. Hair with higher Silicon content tends to fall out less and has more shine and luster.

5. Prevents Aluminum Toxicity

It has been found that higher amounts of aluminum are found in the brain lesions of patients suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease. Silicon, through its bonding with aluminum, prevents the absorption of the latter in the gastrointestinal tract, and can reduce the signs and symptoms of aluminium toxicity.

6. Nails

Silicon is one of the predominant minerals in nails. A sign that Silicon may be systematically deficient is brittle and soft nails. Silicon improves the nail quality which results in a better protection against nail infections.

Common Dietary Sources of Silicon

Plant foods tend to contain more silicon than animal foods, so vegetarians often have higher silicon intakes than meat-eaters do. Red wine, beer, raisins, whole-grain bread, bran cereal, bell peppers, brown rice, green beans and mineral water are some of the more common sources of silicon. Other common sources are barley, oats, whole wheat, nuts, dried fruit, bananas, root vegetables, spinach, seafood and organ meats. Although beans tend to be lower in silicon, red lentils contain a significant amount of this nutrient. Drinking water may also contain some amount of silicon.

Dietary Intake

Based on the Total Diet Study, the mean intakes of silicon in adult men and women were 40 and 19 mg/day, respectively (Pennington, 1991). Appendix Table E-8 indicates that the daily median intakes of silicon for adult men and women ranged from approximately 14 to 21 mg/day. Kelsay and coworkers (1979) found intakes of 46 mg/day from a high-fiber diet and 21 mg/day from a low-fiber diet.

The mean concentration of silicon in human milk was reported to be 0.47 mg/L in women up to 5 months postpartum (Anderson, 1992). Based on the mean secretion of 0.78 L of human milk per day (Chapter 2), the mean intake of silicon by infants receiving human milk is approximately 0.37 mg/day.

Intake From Supplements

Information from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on supplement use of silicon is provided in Appendix Table C-23. The median intake of supplemental silicon by adults was approximately 2 mg/day.

Deficiency Symptoms

Silicon deficiency can bring about calcification of connective and soft tissue, triggering stiffness and loss of elasticity. Deficiency can result in soft or brittle nails, premature wrinkles, thinning or hair loss, poor bone development and osteoporosis. The primary symptom of silica shortage is level of sensitivity to cold, i.e. feeling cold even on a warm summer season day.

Side Effects & Safety

It is advisable to talk to your doctor before taking silicon supplements. Pregnant and nursing women, as well as those who have undergone a stomach removal surgery (gastrectomy) are advised to avoid consuming silicon. Other than that, there are no known major side effects of this mineral.

Sources & References:

Healthy Food MasterVitamins and Mineralsbones,brittle nails,hair,hair loss,heart,skin
Photo by Paul M on Unsplash Over 90% of the Earth's crust is composed of silicate minerals, making silicon the second most abundant element in the Earth's crust (about 28% by mass) after oxygen. As a metalloid, silicon has been used in many industrial applications including use as an additive in the food...
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