Silica has a reputation as a nutritional supplement for building hair, skin and nails. However, scientists doubt this and may even warn against using silica. Here are the most important facts:
Effect of the silica
Silica has a reputation for helping against brittle hair, dry skin and brittle nails. “Traditionally”, many people use silica and providers deal with a trick that the substance is not approved as a medicine. You can write: “Traditionally used to prevent brittle fingernails and hair, to strengthen the connective tissue. This information is based solely on tradition and many years of experience". That sounds nice, but the bottom line is: an effect cannot be scientifically proven, you can only believe that it works.
How does hair loss develop, against which silica should work?
Hair loss can have many reasons: lack of nutrients, hormone fluctuations, incorrect handling of the hair or age. You should clarify the cause with your doctor. If there is a lack of nutrients, the doctor can prescribe a preparation for them. Taking dietary supplements can generally make sense if you suffer from an undersupply of the substances that enable healthy hair growth. Adding more of these nutrients - beyond compensating for the deficiency - does nothing and can sometimes even harm. For example, not only is there too low, but also too high a level of some vitamins.
Silica and silicon
Silica denotes minerals with a high level of silicon. We usually ingest silicon from water, grains and vegetables. It is a trace element that has no elementary function in the body - in contrast to minerals like iron or vitamins like vitamin C. While a lack of necessary vitamins and minerals leads to diseases such as rickets or scurvy, this is most likely in the case of a “silicon deficiency” not the case.
Silicon is found in the body in bones, in tooth enamel and in connective tissue. Some scientists suspect that it has a function such as keeping the connective tissue elastic (smooth skin) or strengthening the bones - there is no evidence for this. It is not surprising that silicon is present in the body, because it is the second most common element. In the body, people have about 1.4 grams, in almost all body cells. It is unknown whether and how much of it we need, in any case a person consumes around 30 mg a day with a mixed diet, vegetarians up to 150 mg.
Millet, wheat, potatoes, parsley and cauliflower contain a lot of silicon.
Silicon is not pure in nature, but combines with oxygen to form silicon oxide. Its acid is called silicon dioxide and can be found in the skeletons of various animals and plants. Silica is usually the rest of deceased diatoms.
No risk to health?
It could be objected, even if the benefits have not been scientifically proven, silica does no harm either. Approved in accordance with EU Directive 2002/46 / EG, Appendix II are chlorine-unstabilized orthosilicic acid, silicon dioxide, silica as gel and organic silicon as a food supplement in the EU. But caution is advised: In three out of four samples, the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing found cheap quartz and cristobalite instead of more expensive algae powder in samples. Placebos products of this kind move into the area of potentially dangerous substances without chemical effects. And: you might as well eat sand. It remains to be seen whether it is a consumer deception or a slippery slide.
Quartz and cristobalite as crystalline forms of silicon dioxide are considered "hazardous substances" in industry. In the long run, such preparations potentially damage the organism. In addition, silica can strain the kidneys after long use.
Is silicon harmless?
Silicon is widespread, 25% of the earth's crust consists of it, only oxygen is more common. Silicon is in quartz, sand, stones or silica. Silicates are silicon-oxygen compounds, which can be found in ceramics, concrete or glass. Silicon compounds are not always without danger: for example, asbestos is a silicate in very fine fibers. These provide excellent insulation and fire resistance, but have the unpleasant side effect of inhaling lung diseases and even lung cancer. Fine dust from silicates can also lead to “dust lung”.
What to do?
If you have brittle hair or dry skin, clarify the causes with your doctor. If you want to adjust your diet so that this brittle hair and cracked nails counteract, you should not pay attention to silicon, but to biotin, folic acid and zinc. A lack of these three substances has been shown to cause hair, skin and nails to suffer. These elements are increasingly present in whole grains, legumes, eggs and nuts.
A lack of a substance can only exist in the body if it plays a role in the organism. The phenomenon of silicon deficiency does not exist in medical literature. It has so far remained unknown in medicine whether silicon has a function in the body or is useless. That is why there are no scientific recommendations for a minimum amount.
The fact that silicon is found in hair, nails and skin does not mean that we have to consume this trace element. In theory, it would be conceivable that the material has a task. It is more logical, however, that we collect silicon in the body for no purpose because we take it up with food: silicon dissolves easily in water and is abundantly contained in our staple foods. By the way: Even if it had a biological function, we would not need any nutritional supplements, we would just have to drink a lot of water and eat bread.
No valid studies
So far, there have been very few clinical studies on the effect of silicon on the bones, and they leave it in the dark as to whether silicon affects the bone density, hair structure or fingernails at all. Two randomized studies should show whether silica improves the bone density of old women. To this end, the scientists examined 184 women with low bone density after the menopause. Three out of four took preparations with choline-stabilized silica for one year, every fourth received a pseudo preparation. The result: There was no difference in bone density between the test and comparison group.
The second study included only 17 participants who drank mineral water with a lot or little silica for three months. The study was too short and included too few test subjects to make a statement about the change in bone density. You could have let them stay. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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