Silica For Connective Tissue
In 1878, Louis Pasteur declared that In the future, Silica would become an optimal therapeutic agent. In 1939, Nobel Prize winner, Professor Adolf Butenant found Silica to be essential to human life. In 1972, Columbia University scientists confirmed that Silica must be continuously supplied from food sources, yet there is still no official RDA for Silica forthcoming. Silicon is never found alone in nature. Silicon dioxide or Silica, is comprised of Silicon and Oxygen. This is the form found in plant fibers. Food processing strips away fibers. Much of the little Silica that is left remains locked-up in fibers and is poorly assimilated.
Algae. Special Nutritional Yeasts, Oats, Barley, Whole Wheat and the herb Nettles (all found in Iridesca) deliver approximately 100 times the Silica of other foods. Silica is important for utilization of several other nutrients including vitamins B-6, C, D, K and Folic Acid as well as the minerals Boron, Copper, Fluorine, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Strontium, and Zinc. New research is showing Silica is every bit as important to bone health as Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Boron and Strontium. Researchers in Germany have noted a correlation between higher than average levels of Silica intake and reduced rates of cancer.
Silica is synergistic with Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids (including Pycnogenols and Bilberry) for collagen production and the protection of beautiful radiant skin. According to Klaus Kaufman, a leading Silica researcher, Silica is the most important antioxidant. The level of body declines with age, falling to only 7% as much in a 50 year old with heart disease as he had at a healthy age 10. The health foods, algae, oats, millet, barley and whole wheat contain approximately 100 times the silica of other foods. Silica is integral to the formation and maintenance of strong bones, teeth, gums, hair and nails. Silica is synergistic with vitamin C and bioflavonoids (especially pycnogenol and bilberry) for the collagen production of firm, youthful skin. Collagen, the glue which holds us together is under continuous assault by oxygen free-radicals.
Silica’s affinity for oxygen is of interest. Some researchers consider silica to be the most important antioxidant. Silica levels are highest just before birth and decline each year as you age. The aorta of a 50 year old contains only half the silica as it did at age 10. Wrinkles are the outward indicator of failing collagen and poor access to silica. A University of California study showed twice the collagen in bones with sufficient silica over that of bones with low silica. More women are dying of complications of brittle bone fractures than cancers of the breast, cervix and uterus combined. Collagen holds calcium, magnesium and phosphorous in place giving the bone strength yet flexibility to resist fracture.
The famous China Diet Study found that osteoporosis is very rate among vegetarians getting only 544 mg. of calcium daily, while osteoporosis is quite high among meat and dairy products consumers getting over twice as much calcium (1143 mg.). While the vegetarians didn’t get as much calcium, they did get plenty of plant-grown silica that way more than made up the difference. Most of us easily get the 544 mg. of calcium. What we are less likely to get is the silica which is tougher to find in the right form and assimilate. Notable concentrations of silica are found in the brain, pancreas, arteries and eyes, especially in the iris and cornea.
Silicon Function In Your Body
Silicon is another mineral that is not commonly written about as an essential nutrient. It is present in the soil and is actually the most abundant mineral in the earth’s crust, as carbon is the most abundant in plant and animal tissues. Silicon is very hard and is found in rock crystals such as quartz or flint. Silicon dioxide (SiO2) is an “active” form of silicon and is used to make glass. Silicon molecules in the tissues, such as the nails and connective tissue, give them strength and stability. Silicon is present in bone, blood vessels, cartilage, and tendons, helping to make them strong. Silicon is important to bone formation, as it is found in active areas of calcification.
It is also found in plant fibers and is probably an important part of their structure. This mineral is able to form long molecules, much the same as is carbon, and gives these complex configurations some durability and strength. It represents about 0.05 percent of our body weight. Silicon is currently considered a research macromineral, as it has been since the early 1970s. Studies have revealed retarded growth and poor bone development in young rats fed a silicon-deficient diet. Rabbits showed more atherosclerotic arterial plaques when fed diets low in silicon. I am sure that we will find further information regarding silicon and its functions in coming years.
Silicon is widely available in food. It is part of plant fibers (though not of cellulose) and is found in high amounts in the hulls of wheat, oats, and rice, in sugar beet and cane pulp, in alfalfa, and in the herbs horsetail, comfrey, and nettles. Horsetail, Equisetum arvensa, is a common source used to make supplemental silica. Silicon is also present in lettuce, cucumbers, avocados, strawberries, onions, and dandelions and other dark greens. The pectin in citrus fruits and alginic acid in kelp also contain small amounts of silicon. Hard drinking water may also be a good source. This mineral is lost easily in food processing. Only about 2 percent of the original silicon is left in milled flour. Soil may also become deficient in silicon, and it is not being replaced; this loss could affect inherent plant structure.
Silicon promotes firmness and strength in the tissues. It is part of the arteries, tendons, skin, connective tissue, and eyes. Collagen contains silicon, helping hold the body tissues together. This mineral is also present with the chondroitin sulfates of cartilage, and it works with calcium to help restore bones.
Silicon is also thought to radiate or transmit energy in its crystalline structure, as in quartz crystal. It is thought by some to be able to deeply penetrate the tissues and help to clear stored toxins. The “silicea” tissue salt, a homeopathic remedy, is described poetically as acting like a “microscopic surgeon.”
Silicon’s essential role is related to calcification of bone, integrity of connective tissues and keratinization. The relative deficiency of silicon in atherosclerotic vessels points to an important pathophysiological function. Silicon deficiency is the causative factor in painful musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
Silicon is often used in herbal remedies to promote strength in the hair, skin, and nails. It helps maintain the elasticity of the skin, so it may be one of our anti-aging nutrients. Other possible uses of silica or silicon that are under investigation are to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease, to treat arthritis and other joint or cartilage problems, gastric ulcers, and other conditions where tissue repair and healing are needed. Silicon is thought to help heal fractures and may have some role in the prevention or treatment of osteoporosis.
Deficiency and toxicity
There is little information on these areas, especially for toxicity. Deficiency problems are under investigation. Results of studies on animals suggest that silicon may be essential in humans. Decreased growth and deficient bone and tooth structure were found in rats with silicon-deficient diets. Silicon deficiency may increase atherosclerosis and heart disease; however, or it may not be a cause and effect relationship, but rather a result or association of these diseases. It would seem that the essential strength and stability this mineral provides to the tissues should give them protection from disease. Other research reveals that silicon levels affect physical endurance, with low tissue levels correlating with lowered stamina.
There is no RDA for silicon since it is not considered essential. The average diet provides about 1-1.5 grams of this mineral, but eating a diet high in processed foods and avoiding the basic vegetable and grain foods may diminish our intake of silicon. To get extra silicon, eat more whole grains and fresh vegetables or use herbs, such as horsetail, or alfalfa or comfrey tablets.