Historically the benefits of silica have been widely unknown and it has been considered a trace mineral; only required in small amounts. However, extensive scientific research has now meant that silica is considered one of the top 12 elements necessary for a healthy life.
Reasons for supplementing silica;
Diet - Refines and processed foods contain little or no silica, meaning it can be very difficult to obtain sufficient amounts from a normal diet.
Ageing – As we age our body retains less and less silica, requiring us to source it elsewhere and in larger quantities.
What is Silica?
Silica is the second most prevalent element after oxygen and can be found in almost everything from electronic devises to textiles and sand. It is also present in the human body as a derivative of silante or silicic acid, and is crucial to maintain healthy hair, glowing skin, strong bones and flexible joints. In fact, deficiencies of silica have been linked to deformities in the skull, poorly formed joints, reduced contents of cartilage and peripheral bones.
Reasoning behind the Research
Silica has multiple attributes, but a review by J Nutr Health Aging, King’s Collage London found extremely compelling evidence from multiple studies conducted over the last 40 years which suggest it has strong links to bone health.
The review claims that osteoporosis is a ‘silent epidemic of the 21st century’ which ‘results in 200,000 fractures annually and at a cost of over one billion pounds’; which have surely increased significantly since the study in 2007.
The research sought to establish preventative measures for this widespread and incredibly harmful condition, with a specific emphasis on nutrition. Whilst calcium has been widely acknowledged as beneficial for bone health for many years, the effects of other nutrients and minerals have been relatively unknown until recently. The review concluded that all research suggests silica has a significant role in bone health, including that in bone formation and bone and connective tissue.
Bone Mineral Density
One of the studies reviewed by J Nutr Health Aging was The Framingham Offspring, which has shown that increased dietary intake of silica directly had a positive impact of the bone mineral density (BMD) in the hips of men and pre-menopausal women.
The study examined the association between silica intake and BMD in 1251 men and 1596 pre and postmenopausal women, aged between 30 and 87 years, during a cross-sectional population based study.
The study showed significant variations in BMD (up to 10%) between the highest (>40mg Si/day) and the lowest (<14mg Si/day) quintiles of silicon intake.
There was a positive association of adjusted BMD and silica intake in men and premenopausal women at 4 hip sites.
There was also a positive correlation between silica intake and the lumbar spine in men (located in the lower back).
The study suggested, for the first time, that a higher intake of silica in men and pre-menopausal women had a beneficial impact on skeletal health and especially in cortical bone health.
This study was later reinforced by a women only cohort, which again showed the positive association of increased silica with bone mineral density in the hips and spines of pre-menopausal women. Both studies reflected that increased intake of silica is linked with higher BMD; a signifier of bone strength
Many other studies have been conducted in recent years which again emphasis the positive association between increased intake of silica and improved bone health. The studies also discovered;
- Bones with a higher concentration of silicon have shown a resistance to breakages.
- Silica increases the production and cross-linking of collagen, which forms the very fabric of bone.
- Certain areas in the world, specifically China and India, have been reported to have a higher intake of dietary silica due to plant-based foods being a more prominent part of the diet. These areas also have a very low rate of hip fractures.
- Silica has been shown to improve brittle nails, strengthen hair and reduce the signs of ageing due to its links to improving properties in collagen.
- Beer is a significant source of dietary silicon and particularly those containing malted barley and hops are the richest in silica, making beer a major contributor of silicon in Western diets. Some studies have suggested that moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis and can be important for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue (we'll cheers to that!)
At Nourished we believe that scientific research has undoubtedly shown that increased silica intake can help to form healthier and stronger bones. With its many other health benefits, silica is certainly one of our Hero Ingredients and a firm favourite in our Nourished stacks! Check out our other Nourishments which help to strengthen and fortify bones or see if silica is recommended for your stack by taking our short lifestyle quiz.
Silicon and Bone Health, J Nutr Health Aging. 2007 Mar-Apr; 11(2): 99–110.
Dietary Silicon Intake is Positively Associated with Bone Mineral Density in Men and Premenopausal Women of the Framingham Offspring Cohort