Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing?


Last Updated June 24th, 2019

Silicon dioxide: An introduction

Silicon dioxide or silica is a combination of silicon and oxygen.  It is found in the tissues of the body. It is also found in plants and foods such as green leafy vegetables, brown rice, oats, beets, etc.  It is widely used as an additive in food supplements. It is found in various categories namely crystalline, amorphous, and synthetic amorphous.

It is found in a common form called quartz. This quartz is naturally found in rocks and sands. The earth’s crust consists of 90% of silicon dioxide.  The main reason why silicon dioxide is used as an additive is because of their property to avoid clumping and not allowing powder substances to stick to each other.  

Inhaling silica dust can cause a life-threatening medical condition called silicosis and is considered to be the biggest side effect of silica. People who are involved in construction, mining, sandblasting, steel industry, etc have a high risk of exposure to silica dust.

Why does your body need silicon dioxide?

Bone Health

Silicon dioxide is important for halting the breakdown of bones as well as help in the formation of new bones.  It is known to stimulate the protein collagen synthesis. Due to the synthesis of collagen protein, the bone attains its framework whereas calcium and other minerals together give the strength to the bones.  It is essential in minimizing the re-absorption of bone minerals, which can lead to lean and soft bones.

It plays an important role in stopping the transfer of calcium to the bloodstream and helps the calcium to stay back in the bones.  Silicon present in the silicon dioxide is helpful in transmitting pulses for bone mineralization, which helps the bone to charge itself and improve the bone density.

Silicon dioxide provides the flexibility to the bone joints, which undergoes regular wear and tear such as twisting, stretching, and contracting.  This is helpful in the process of ambulation. These properties of silicon dioxide are useful in preventing a medical condition called osteoporosis that may cause weakened and soft bones. This condition generally occurs during old age. An adequate level of silicon dioxide in the body is known to prevent this condition.  

Hair, Skin, and Nails

Maintaining the hair, skin, and nails need some extra care and time, which people do not have these days and end up losing a lot of money trying to make up for the lost shine and strength of the hair, skin, and nails.  Silica is known to promote and maintain the strength of the blood vessels and help in the circulation process or blood flow to the scalp. As already discussed, silicon dioxide is essential for maintaining the connective tissue, which promotes hair growth, as well as provides strength to the nails and skin.  It helps in flattening the scales of the hair follicles to give the hair its lost strength and glow.

Alopecia related issues can also be treated with the use of silicon dioxide in a medicinal form. It is also essential in preventing cellulite formation, which is the abnormal lump beneath the skin. Studies have shown that silicon dioxide promotes the elasticity and glow of the skin as well.

Detoxification

The increased concentration of a particular element in the bloodstream can lead to toxicity.  It becomes difficult to particularly remove an element from the bloodstream and one such element is aluminum causing aluminum toxicity.  Silicon dioxide plays an important role in the detoxification of aluminum from the bloodstream. It has been noted that silicon dioxide bonds with the aluminum and this, in turn, barricades the absorption of aluminum in the human gut.  

Studies have indicated that aluminum toxicity is considered to be one of the main causes of Alzheimer’s disease.  Aluminum toxicity can also lead to cognition disorders and impaired neurological function.  Silicon dioxide is helpful in preventing the formation of aluminum in the brain and reduces the occurrence of these neurological disorders such as Alzheimer disease and cognitive dysfunction.

Immune System

A healthy immune system means a healthy body and mind, as well as a lot of health benefits.  People having a weak immune system are prone to many infections easily. Silicon dioxide is useful in promoting a healthy immune system by activating phagocytes.  Phagocytes are the cells which have the main function to kill harmful virus and bacteria.

Due to this action of phagocytes, they are essential in promoting a healthy immune system.  A lower number of bacteria and virus in the body leads to an alkaline environment and reduces the acidity and helps in promoting a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system is able to fight the harmful bacteria and virus causing infections and promotes better health.

Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis can be defined as the narrowing of the blood vessels and lowering the blood flow to and from the heart.  A substance called plaque gets accumulated in arteries and leads to this condition. A lower amount of blood flow can lead to a medical condition called hypertension and subsequently leading to heart attacks and can lead to life-threatening diseases.  A lower level of silicon dioxide is linked to the cause of plaque buildup. A higher level of silicon dioxide in the bloodstream leads to the utilization of calcium in the bloodstream and prevents the buildup of plaque and subsequently preventing atherosclerosis.

Are there any side-effects?

Vitamin Deficiency:  Increased levels of silicon dioxide in the body can lead to a medical condition called vitamin deficiency.  Silicon dioxide supplement contains an enzyme called a Thiaminese enzyme. This enzyme is known to lower the levels of vitamin B1 in the body and thus causing vitamin B1 deficiency.  It is advised to monitor the levels of vitamins when consuming these supplements, so as to prevent any vitamin deficiency.

Kidney Dysfunction:  People are using antacids more often these days due to the irregular and abnormal diet they follow.  This leads to excessive secretion of acids in the stomach causing gastrointestinal dysfunctions. It may also cause abdominal pain and stomach bloating due to gas accumulation.  It should be noted that antacids contain silicon in it and regular usage of antacids may lead to deterioration of the kidney function and even cause kidney stones. Therefore, it is advised to avoid antacids containing silicon in it, which can lead to several health problems.

Polyuria:  Polyuria is a medical condition where there is an increase in the frequency of urination.  It can be caused due to many factors including kidney problems, urinary bladder infection, as well as diabetes.  Studies have also proved that consuming excess water with silicon dioxide supplements can lead to polyuria. Polyuria causes loss of important nutrients from the body such as potassium leading to hypokalemia.  It is therefore advised to keep the intake of water under control when consuming silicon dioxide on a long-term basis.

Lower Blood Sugar:  It is associated with a reduction of glucose in the bloodstream that is lower than the normal level.  This can lead to serious health issues and can cause dizziness and weakness in the body. Studies have indicated that excess consumption of silicon dioxide can lead to lowering of the blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes.  It is therefore advised to either avoid supplementing silicon dioxide on a long-term basis or consume it sparingly to maintain the optimum levels of blood sugar.

Silicosis:  Silicosis is a health condition caused by lung fibrosis.  The main cause of silicosis is due to the inhalation of silica dust.  There are many factors contributing to silicosis. People who are regularly exposed to silica dust during construction, mining, sandblasting, steel industry, etc are known to contract this disease, which can be life-threatening.  It is therefore advised to maintain caution at such work environments.

Drug Interaction:  Any supplement consumed along with the prescribed drug may lead to interaction and it should be carefully monitored.  It is important to understand the reactions associated with any supplement first. Silicon dioxide supplements are known to cause some interactions when combined with other drugs.  People consuming a water pill or diuretic should avoid combining it with silicon dioxide since silicon dioxide itself acts as a diuretic. Due to this interaction, a person may become dehydrated and lose much of the body fluid essential for normal functioning of the body.  It is also advised to avoid silicon dioxide supplements with brewer’s yeast, which can lead to chromium poisoning.

What are the signs of silicon dioxide deficiency?

There are numerous symptoms associated with deficiency of silicon dioxide namely fragile and weakened nails, regular hair fall with dull hair, osteoporosis such as weakened and soft bones leading to fractures, reduction in the flexibility of bone joints, as well as Alzheimer disease symptoms.

Best sources of silicon dioxide are…

Silicon dioxide is abundant in numerous fruits and vegetables.  Some of the foods that are rich in silicon dioxide are oats, potatoes, red beets, asparagus, bananas, barley, rice bran, wheat bran, avocados, cucumber, spinach, strawberries, root vegetables, mussels, as well as herbs such as horsetail, nettle, comfrey, etc.

The final takeaway

Silicon is the second most abundant element present in the earth’s crust.  When silicon combines with oxygen, silicon dioxide is formed. A recommended dietary dosage has not been established for silicon since it is required in very low quantities.  Silicon dioxide is naturally available in various fruits and vegetables. They are widely used in various sectors such as additives in various food products. They are widely used as clarifying agents in beer and wine.  

Silicon is biocompatible and hence is used in various medical devices such as stents, pacemakers, defibrillators, etc. They are also useful in removing aluminum toxicity, which is considered to be the main cause of Alzheimer’s disease.  There are also some side effects associated with increased levels of silicon dioxide and include polyuria, kidney problems, vitamin deficiency, as well as silicosis.

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