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Most of us know silicon as material used to make computer chips (think silicon valley), or the element in makeup that makes it go on smoothly.
And often, people confuse silicon with silicone — a material resembling plastic used to make breast implants and containing silicon, oxygen and other chemicals — and silica, which is silicon plus oxygen, and is often used as an anticaking agent.
But, in fact, silicon is a trace mineral that plays a vital role in bone and joint formation and contributes to tissue development in the heart and respiratory tract.
Silicon is the most abundant element on earth except for oxygen, so it stands to reason that it would play some important role in human health.
So, let’s clear up the confusion and take a look at how this overlooked trace mineral can contribute to your health, and how you can be sure you’re getting enough of it.
Silicon helps prevent osteoporosis
When we begin losing more bone than we’re producing, the result is osteoporosis. Our bones get thinner, and breaking a hip or other joint becomes much, much more likely.
Research at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center has shown that low levels of dietary silicon also lower levels of certain substances that stimulate cells to form joint and bone cartilage.
In other words, getting enough of this little-known mineral is one of the best tools we have to prevent osteoporosis.
Silicon also works to optimize the absorption of dietary calcium into our bones and increases the rate of healing of bone dislocations and fractures. It attracts and holds water in our joints, making it less likely that they will stiffen and become arthritic.
Silicon keeps aluminum from poisoning us
There’s a well-established connection between Alzheimer’s and a high concentration of aluminum in the body. Well, guess what? Silicon, that unknown mineral, is a champ at preventing aluminum toxicity!
Silicon bonds with aluminum, preventing it from being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract.
In a French population study of elderly subjects, a high level of aluminum was less harmful to cognitive function when dietary silicon concentrations were also high.
Other benefits of silicon
Silicon keeps nails healthy and strong. Since silicon is a major component of nails, soft or brittle nails could signal a silicon deficiency. It’s important to address this, since strong nails are protection against splitting and breaking, which increases the chances of fungal and other infections.
Silicon controls cholesterol. Studies have shown that dietary silicon can help rid the body of unwanted cholesterol in the arteries. Animal studies have found that levels of LDL cholesterol were lowered when subjects ingested a silicon compound.
Silicon keeps mucus membranes healthy. When the body has become dehydrated, silicon helps restore healthy moisture levels in the mucus membranes.
Silicon grows shiny, healthy hair. While reviews are mixed as far as silicon’s ability to reduce baldness and hair loss, we do know that a silicon deficiency is characterized by thinning, lackluster hair and hair loss.
Sources of dietary silicon
Fiber-rich foods like vegetables, whole grains and cereals are good sources. However, plants absorb silicon from the soil that is much more easily absorbed by the human gastrointestinal tract. For this reason, eating a vegetable-based diet ensures healthy levels of dietary silicon.
Some of the best plant sources of dietary silicon are:
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!
- Silicon: An Overlooked Trace Mineral — Life Extension
- 9 Amazing Benefits Of Silicon — Organic Information Services Pvt Ltd.
- Silica and aluminum in drinking water and cognitive impairment in the elderly — Epidemiology
- A food-grade silicon dioxide is hypocholesterolemic in the diet of cholesterol-fed rats — The Journal of Nutrition
- The effect of silicon (Si) on lipid parameters in blood serum and arterial wall — Biological Trace Element Research