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Silicon and your health

No other essential mineral is as widely present in the nature as silicon (Si). More than 1/4 of Earth's crust is made of it, and its main function in the body is vaguely similar: it is needed for building and proper functioning of your connective tissue, including skin, blood vessels and bone structure.

Thus silicon deficiency causes retarded growth in children, lowers quality of the skin, hair and nails, blood vessels (especially aorta) - which tend to get damaged easier and, consequently, develop more of a cholesterol build-up (atherosclerosis) - bones and joint cartilage (arthritis), as well as other local degradation of the connective tissue possible. Low silicon levels also make healing of a fractured bone more difficult.

So, if you want to prevent premature ageing of your skin and hair, or need your bones re-calcified, or can use extra protection factor for your blood vessel integrity, make sure your intake of silicon is sufficient.

Silicon also inhibits absorption of aluminum in the brain, thus its deficiency can be a factor in developing Alzheimer's disease, when your exposure to aluminum is significant (more likely than not).

Since silicon is so widely present in food supply, it is not considered to be a risk factor in regard to possible deficiency. Estimated daily intake of silicon in the US is 20mg-50mg, with estimated adequate intake level of 5mg-20mg. Thus it doesn't have its DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes, the most recent set of dietary recommendations set by the government) established.

But don't be so sure of these numbers. Soils are increasingly depleted and, as it is the case with most nutrients, you might optimally need more than the DRI silica recommendation - up to 40mg or 50mg a day.

More so due to excessive intake of silica antagonists - magnesium, potassium, chromium, vitamins B2, B5 and B6, saturated fats and trans-fatty acids - possibly inhibiting absorption of silica and resulting in its insufficient bio-availability (on the other hand, increase in Omega-6 essential fatty acid intake helps raise body silicon level, and the other way around).

Symptoms of excessive silicon intake are mild: bruising, and stomach/skin irritation.

Best natural silicon food sources are hard (mineral rich) water and vegetables.