The Smartest Way to Use Silica Supplements for Hair
There are more hair supplements and vitamins on the market today than ever before, but some of the newest and most promising are those that include silica. The importance of silica for hair growth is becoming more and more clear with modern research, and it’s beginning to take its rightful place among nutritionists’ advice.
In this article, the benefits of silica will be uncovered along with how it affects the body on the whole.
What Is Silica
Also known as silicon dioxide, silica is composed of one silicon atom and two oxygen atoms. In a quartz crystal, this mineral can be seen in its raw form.
What maybe may not have known is that it is also a critical nutrient. Like iron, copper, and other minerals, the body needs silica in trace amounts in order to operate efficiently.
Health Benefits of Silica
1. Supports the Joints
Silica is a crucial component of cartilage and ligaments, the tissues that fit in the spaces between bones. These tissues naturally wear down with day-to-day use, and without sufficient silicon dioxide in the diet, the body is unable to replenish them. This quickly leads to joint problems such as arthritis, as the bones begin to scrape together.
2. Flattens the Hair Follicles
When hair follicles are standing up or pointing every which way, it leads to dull hair that’s brittle and prone to damage. Providing the follicles with silica allows them to flatten out as they’re meant to, giving the hair they produce a healthy shine.
3. Restores Skin Elasticity
Along with cartilage, silica is used by the body to produce collagen. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up most of the connective tissues. It also happens to be the primary ingredient in skin. Just like cartilage, the body needs a steady supply of nutrients to replace collagen as it degrades over the normal course of time. As long as the collagen can be replaced, skin stays firm and young. Without enough silica, it will wrinkle and sag much earlier than it should.
4. Supports pH Balance
Silica is a natural alkalising agent, helping to neutralise excess acid in the body. Maintaining a neutral pH balance is important to every aspect of health, from digestion to the immune system. A supplement can help improve energy levels and fight off disease more quickly.
5. Strengthens the Bones
Silica is important in how the body processes calcium, aiding in its conversion into bones and teeth. Ensuring that one receives plenty of this and other nutrients through food or supplements will protect one from fractures and breaks, and help the bones knit back together more quickly if a break does occur.
6. Fights Arterial Plaque
Recent studies point to a correlation between low silica levels and the formation of arterial plaque. Plaque, or atherosclerosis, is a buildup of debris, calcium, and tissue inside the arteries. Over time, the arteries expand to allow blood to flow around the buildup. This leads to hypertension (high blood pressure), which ultimately leads to heart disease, heart attacks, or stroke.
Keeping vitamin levels high will help prevent arterial plaque from forming in the first place.
7. Hydrates the Respiratory System
The lungs and esophagus are lined with a mucous membrane called the mucosa. It protects the sensitive tissue of the respiratory system, keeps them moist, and helps spread nutrients to where they’re needed. Silica is an important piece of how the mucosa is maintained. Without enough intake, the mucosa dehydrates, cracks, and ultimately affects breathing.
8. Helps Heal Wounds
Along with the mucosa, silica also helps in the formation of new skin cells. This plays a role in keeping skin looking young and healthy, but perhaps more importantly, it’s how the body heals from cuts, bruises, and other wounds. If one are deficient in this mineral, even minor cuts don’t heal, which leads to pain and risk of infection.
The Link Between Silica and Hair Growth
Silica is more frequently being used as a supplement for hair and nail health. The simple reason is that it works. With all the benefits listed above, it’s no surprise that the most visible effect of adequate nutrients is strong, shiny, full hair.
In addition, there are two other important things this mineral does for the body that directly impact hair.
It balances the sex hormones. Men and women carry both estrogen and testosterone in their bodies, in varying proportions. When that balance is thrown off, and a person has too much of one or too little of the other, hair is one of the first things to go.
In particular, excess estrogen is thought to be one for the primary factors in male pattern baldness, although some of the so-called “female hormone” is needed even in men. A healthy influx of the right trace minerals helps naturally balance estrogen and testosterone production, staving off hair loss.
Secondly, silica is essential in the transport of nutrients to the hair follicles. The mineral has a unique ability to bond with many different nutrients, carrying them through the bloodstream to the scalp and other areas of the body.
Without enough silicon dioxide, it wouldn’t matter what else one eats. The nutrients wouldn’t get where they need to go.
Symptoms of Silica Deficiency
There are so many reasons to make silicon dioxide a part of the diet or supplement routine. But what happens if it’s lacking?
Silica deficiency is a growing problem across the globe. The primary symptoms relate to the hair, skin, and nails, and are typically highly visible.
1. Brittle Nails
Without enough silica, the finger- and toenails become thin and brittle. They crack and splinter easily, and often turn an ugly yellow. This goes beyond aesthetics; the nails protect the delicate tips of fingers and toes. When they can’t do their job, everything from writing to eating to typing becomes a painful chore.
2. Weak, Dry Hair
The hair follicles require silica to stay healthy and keep producing hair. When follicles are deprived of this vital nutrient, then weak, thinning hair is the result. It loses its shine, it cracks and breaks easily, and eventually, it stops growing altogether.
3. Skin Outbreaks
Silica is also needed to replace the collagen in skin, the substance that allows it to stay elastic and snap back after being stretched. Without enough of this nutrient, wrinkles and stretch marks quickly form, and we become more prone to rashes, acne, and other skin disorders.
4. Tooth Cavities
As well as hair, skin and nails, silica is a critical component in the skeletal system. The nutrient is what allows the body to process and refine calcium into enamel, the building blocks of teeth. When we don’t get enough, the teeth become susceptible to damage, more prone to painful cavities, and quicker to decay and rot.
Perhaps most important of all, silica is used by the body to maintain bone strength. People suffering a deficiency are at higher risk for osteoporosis, a systemic weakening of the bones. An osteoporosis patient is fragile across their entire body, as even the lightest bump might result in a serious bone fracture.
Silica Supplements Safety and Side Effects
Most silica supplements are labelled with a recommended dose of 10 to 30 milligrams daily. Because our understanding of the nutrient’s importance is just beginning to develop, it’s also not recommended to supplement it for an extended period of time.
There are several potential side effects of incorrect supplementation, some of which are serious:
- Vitamin Deficiency – Excess silica can destroy vitamin B1, a vital nutrient, before it is processed by the body.
- Kidney Damage – Extended use of silicon dioxide supplements can result in stones or other kidney problems.
- Excess Urination – High amounts of silica can act as a diuretic. Be sure to hydrate properly while supplementing.
- Low Blood Sugar – High levels tend to lower blood sugar, which is of particular concern to diabetics and pregnant women. Be careful and consult with a doctor in these cases.
- Drug Interactions – Consult with a doctor to learn about potential interactions.
Follow the labeled instructions on the supplement, and consult with a medical professional if there are concerns are adverse reactions. In the majority of cases, supplementation is safe and effective.
Top Food Sources of Silica
Supplements are an easy and effective way to increase the amount of silica in one’s diet, but whole food sources are always best. Here are some foods naturally rich in this important nutrient.
- Bran cereal
- Whole-grain bread
- Green beans
- Brown rice
If there are clear signs of silica deficiency, it’s best to introduce a supplement along with silica-rich foods. This will help kick start the body back into equilibrium. Once the hair, skin, and nails are back in top shape, supplement use can be continued or stopped.
Unsung Hero of Nutrition
Silica’s benefits are myriad, from the bones to the hair and everything in between. Study of this important nutrient are only just beginning, but one thing is clear - people don't get enough silica. And that needs to change.