What is silicon?
Silicon is the second most abundant element on Earth behind oxygen, and the third most abundant trace mineral in human body. It is an essential nutrient for stronger bones, more flexible joints, and better skin.
The health benefit of silicon was first discovered in experiments with rats and chickens that were fed silicon-deficient diets. The deficiency caused skeletal deformities such as abnormal skull and long bone structure, as well as poorly-formed joints with decreased cartilage content. The importance of silicon in structural integrity and development of connective tissue were revealed later by detailed biochemical analysis.
Most silicon store in connective tissues in the body such as ligaments, tendons and cartilage. This is because silicon is needed for strengthen structural proteins such as collagen and elastin. It also boosts the benefits of calcium, glucosamine and vitamin D, which are essential for healthy bones and joints.
Generally, the modern diet is abundant in silicon and deficiency is extremely rare. The symptoms of silicon deficiency are quite apparent as its closely associated with connective tissues – poor skeletal development, hair loss and thinning, formation of wrinkles, and aging of skin.
Silicon in health
There is no question that silicon appears to have a beneficial role in bone formation and health, based on over the past 30 years investigating this potential role of dietary silicon.
Silicon has been found to have a vital role in assisting deposits of calcium and phosphorous in the bone. It also plays an ongoing role in maintaining bones after their formation, increasing the rate of healing of bone dislocations and fractures.
Osteoporosis is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in elderly people. The major clinical effect is loss of bone density and result in bone fracture, causing pain, disability, and loss of independence. In clinical studies both in human and animals, silicon supplementation was associated with a significant increase in bone mineral density. The positive results suggest that silicon, along with calcium and other bone related nutrients, may prevent and fight against osteoporosis.
Adequate daily intake is 8mg for optimum health in average adults. Silicon intakes decreases significantly with age, on average, intakes were 0.1 mg lower for every additional year of age. Foods are major sources of available silicon for humans, and high quality supplementation is needed for elderly people to maintain strong bones and connective tissues.
Food sources high in silicon: Whole grain bread, cereals, oats, wheat bran, beets, bell peppers, beans, peas, apples, cabbage, carrots, onions, cucumber, pumpkin, oranges