The Importance of Silica in the Human Body
The Importance of Silica in the Human Body
By James Sloane
Silicon dioxide (SiO2), commonly known as silica, is one of the most common compounds on earth. The best known forms of silica are sand, quartz, and glass.
Silica is essential to both plants and animals for integrity of their tissues. Although, silica must first be converted in to another compound, known as orthosilicic acid (Si(OH)4), before it can be utilized in humans.
Orthosilicic acid is formed in nature as silica is dissolved by water. Though, silica is poorly dissolved by water generally. The presence of acid increases the conversion of silica in to orthosilicic acid. In the human body, this acid is provided by the stomach. When silica is ingested from water or plant sources, stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) aids in the conversion of the silica in to orthosilicic acid. As we age though, stomach acid levels decline, leading to declining silica levels in the tissues. Antacids and acid blockers also decrease tissue silica levels for the same reason.
Silica is essential for the formation of the proteins collagen and elastin. Collagen gives tissues strength, while elastin gives tissues elasticity. As levels of collagen and elastin decline, various disorders may occur. These include:
Osteoporosis- Silica is a piezoelectric material that generates electricity under pressure. When the collagen matrix is stressed, which applies pressure on the silica molecules, an electrical current is generated that electrodeposits minerals in to the collagen matrix. This allows bone to gain density. As a component of collagen and elastin, silica also aids in giving bone its flexibility, and therefore much of bone’s strength and shock absorption. Without silica, the bones would be unable to mineralize, and even if the bone could mineralize it would easily fracture like a piece of chalk. Silica aids in the absorption of calcium, and displaces the heavy metal lead, which is detrimental to bone. Although calcium is better known as an important nutrient for bones, silica is actually the most important nutrient for proper bone health and strength. Decreased silica levels leads to poor bone mineral deposition in bones, and loss of flexibility and shock absorption, increasing the risk of fracture.
Osteoarthritis (joint inflammation)- Silica is essential for the formation and strength of cartilage. Silica's role is in both the formation of collagen in cartilage and through the repetitive linking of glucosamine molecules to form chondroitin in cartilage. Declining levels of silica lead to softening of cartilage, and increased risk of damage or deterioration to spinal discs and joint cartilage. In addition, silica has mild natural anti-inflammatory properties, which further helps prevent cartilage degradation.
Emphysema- Loss of elastin in the lung alveoli prevents normal expansion and contraction of the alveoli.
Diverticulitis (inflammation of the diverticuli)- Loss of elastin in the intestinal diverticuli prevents these pouches from contracting back to their normal state. The anti-inflammatory effects of silica help reduce pain of diverticulitis.
Tendonitis (inflammation of the tendons)- Loss of collagen and elastin in tendons increases the risk of damage to tendons from overstretching and tearing. Silica can help reduce inflammation of the tendons.
Heart disease- It is a common misconception that high cholesterol is the cause of heart disease. Actually, cholesterol levels are irrelevant to the risk of heart disease. Cholesterol is a healing agent for the body, and therefore deposits in areas of injury. Therefore, cholesterol does not deposit on arterial walls unless there is injury to the wall. When the arterial wall is damaged, there will be resulting inflammation. In response, cholesterol deposits over the injured area. This is why high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, bacterial infection, and high homocysteine levels are all considered true risk factors for heart disease. Each of these factors can damage arterial walls and lead to arterial inflammation. Loss of collagen increases the risk of damage to arterial walls. In addition, silica helps prevent arterial inflammation.
Loss of collagen and elastin in arterial walls reduces the wall strength, increasing the risk of aneurysm. Aneurysms increase the risk of stroke, or death from internal bleeding.
Wrinkles- Loss of elastin in the skin results in wrinkles. Normal, healthy skin is elastic and rebounds when stretched. Declining silica levels reduce elastin levels in the skin, which causes the skin to stretch then sag leading to the formation of wrinkles.
(This post was last modified: 05-31-2015 08:59 PM by James.)