Silicon is present in biologic material as a silanate, an ether derivative of silicic acid which may play a role in the structure of glycosaminoglycans and their protein complexes. Connective tissues with silicon includes aorta, trachea, tendon, bone, and skin.
It is necessary for the formation of collagen for bones and connective tissue; for healthy nails, skin, and hair and for calcium absorption in the early stages of bone formation.
Food Sources of Silicon
Dietary silicon intake of humans varies greatly with the amount and proportions of foods of animal (silicon-low) and plant (silicon-high) origin consumed and the amounts of refined and processed foods in the diet. Normally, refining reduces the silicon content of foods. However, silicate additives have been increasingly used in prepared foods and confections as anti-caking or anti-foaming agents. Although this increases total dietary silicon, most of it is not bioavailable. The silicon content of drinking water, and beverages made thereof, shows geographical variation; silicon is high in hard water and low in soft water areas. The richest sources of silicon are unrefined grains of high fiber content and cereal products.
Benefits and Functions of Silicon
Silicon is a major constituent of collagen, the substance that joins cells together. Silicon is important for the proper elasticity of skin and a deficiency may result in premature wrinkles, dull brittle hair or soft splitting nails. Silicon is also useful for breaking down calcium spurs and for assisting in the treatment of boils, abscesses and styes. Silicon is necessary for strong bone formation and may assist the maintenance of healthy arteries.
The daily average intakes of silicon apparently ranges from about 20 to 50 mg/day. Taking 700 mg or less of silicon supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.
What are the deficiency symptoms of Silicon?
Most of the signs of silicon deficiency in chickens and rats indicate aberrant metabolism of connective tissue and bone. Chicks fed a semi-synthetic, silicon-deficient diet exhibited skull structure abnormalities associated with depressed collagen content in bone and long bone abnormalities characterized by small, poorly formed joints and defective endochondral bone growth.
Overdosage Signs of Silicon
There isn't enough evidence to know what the effects might be of taking high doses of silicon supplements each day.