Silicon is a mineral. And we know minerals are generally considered healthy. In fact, some of the healthiest foods are those rich in minerals. But when it comes to minerals, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, and similar are the first that come to mind.
Silicon dioxide, also known as silica, is a chemical compound that is an oxide of silicon. This compound has been known since ancient times, and in nature, silica is found as quartz. In the past several years, silica has become a common additive in food production. Considering that silica is not well known, we will explain some of the side effects of consuming silicon dioxide supplements, the benefits, and how much you should consume.
What is silicon used for?
As you will see later on, silicon dioxide is used for weak bones, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, hair loss, heart diseases, and increasing bone strength. Men and younger women have a higher bone mineral density when consuming silicon. In addition, this compound can reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.
Don’t confuse silicon with silicone. The first one is a mineral, while the second is a group of materials that resembles plastic. Silicone contains silicon, oxygen, and other chemicals, and is mostly used for breast implants.
As we will see later from the medical research on silicon dioxide, the compound is considered safe. However, as with everything in life, there are possible side effects, which is why it’s important to keep to the dosage and take the necessary precautions.
Some of the side effects related to consuming silicon dioxide are kidney stones. That is, if you take silicon-containing antacids for a long period. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, women should avoid silicon. We must note that it is considered “likely safe,” but the safety in large amounts is unknown.
One of the possible reasons why silicon is an unknown commodity is because of the way this compound works. The concern is because silicon dioxide’s nanoparticles can pass through the blood-brain barrier. This barrier keeps harmful substances from getting into the brain.
Industrial workers who work in an industry where they breathe a large amount of crystalline silica dust are more prone to side effects. Exposure to silicon dioxide has been linked with small vessel vasculitis, autoimmune diseases, kidney damage, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Dosing and how it is used
At the moment, there is no recommended dietary allowance or RDA for silicon dioxide. However, when it comes to osteoporosis, the recommended dose is 40mg of silicon, a dosage that is linked to stronger bones.
Many industries use silica nanoparticles, including the cosmetic, food, and drug industries. Most commonly, silica is created by crushing or milling from natural sources. Silica can also be used as a pesticide and carrier of flavors and fragrances.
Finally, let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of silicon dioxide. That is, if you consume it on a regular basis as a food supplement.
- Silicon prevents deformities in bones, playing a vital role in assisting calcium for bone growth. As well as supporting bone growth, silicon also helps maintain the health of the joints and bones. Silicon increases the amount of collagen, which contributes to better flexibility and elasticity of the bones.
- It prevents alopecia (commonly known as thinning of the hair). This condition is often caused by a refined diet, or consuming processed foods that lack healthy nutrients. Silicon encourages hair growth and increases the shine of the hair.
- Silicon plays a vital role in preventing the skin from becoming flabby. This compound restores the natural glow of the skin, maintaining a healthy skin appearance.
- It prevents aluminum toxicity by bonding with aluminum. Absorption of too much aluminum is linked with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Silicon dioxide also restores the mucosa of the respiratory tract. The process prevents your body from dehydrating.
- Another important aspect is brittle nails. Silicon prevents them by keeping your nails healthy and improving the quality of the nails.
- Last, but not least, silicon dioxide helps the healing process in general. Protecting against many diseases is one thing, but silicon also increases the healing process during fractures.
Is it safe?
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, silicon falls into Toxicity Category III, which is the second lowest degree on the toxicity rating scale. Silicon dioxide has a long history of usage in the food industry without any side effects. One thing to note, however, is that there is contradictory research. The reason is simple: silica appears in various versions.
Silicon dioxide can also be found naturally in plants like leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, brown rice, beets, and even oats. Because it is found in plants and drinking water, silicon dioxide is considered safe. One study suggests that silicon dioxide actually does not stay in our bodies, but instead is flushed out by the kidneys. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes silica as a safe food additive. The same can be said for the World Health Organization and the European Food Safety Authority.
Even more important, one study shows that negative health effects occur when there is a deficiency of the compound. Some of the deficiency symptoms include poor bone development, thinning of the hair, formation of wrinkles, aging of the skin, and brittleness of nails. The FDA recommends that silicon dioxide should not exceed 2% of a food’s total weight.