Silicon, bones and connective tissue

Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, after oxygen. Its function in the body is less well known, although silicon is trace element number three, after iron and zinc. For a long time, science thought that silicon was only accidentally present in the body, but now it is almost certain that we are dealing with an essential nutrient. Silicon or silicic acid or orthosilicic acid is said to be indispensable for optimal formation of cartilage, connective tissue, skin and hair.

Bones and silicon

Bones need more than just calcium. Magnesium, potassium, fluorine, zinc, copper, boron, manganese and silicon are also present: the intake of each mineral is correlated with bone density. Rats put on a silicon-free diet have lower bone density and higher collagen breakdown. Supplements with choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid increase markers of bone formation in osteoporotic women. Silicon supplementation also ensures higher bone density in osteoporosis patients, and in another study silicon was even shown to work better than etidronate (biphosphonate) and sodium fluoride.
Silicon increases the production of bone matrix, both collagen and the non-collagenous part, and stimulates the development of osteoblast cells. Silicon seems to play a major role, especially during the initiation of bone formation and mineralization.
It is remarkable that silicon-containing implants and binding agents bond much better with bones than materials without silicon.6

Connective tissue and silicon

Collagen is also found in other connective tissue, such as the skin. Although Klaus Scharz and Edith Carlisle, pioneers in the field of trace element research, already stated in the 1970s that silicon is necessary for cross-linking of collagen fibers, these studies have still not been validated. Interaction with copper (essential factor in cross-linking collagen) and stimulation of wound-healing T cells are also possible. Silicon is said to be necessary for the integrity of the basement membrane in the skin.
Silicon deficiencies are associated with rough skin, brittle nails and brittle hair, while choline-stabilized silicic acid in creams softens and softens rough skin and strengthens hair.
Another striking fact is that macrophages absorb the silicon that seeps from silicone into the body. It is suspected that the macrophages will later use this silicon for wound healing. Indeed, there are many indications that silicon improves wound healing. The most plausible hypothesis at the moment is that silicon provides a microenvironment that ensures a smooth inflow and outflow of nutrients.

Silicon in general

Daily intake of silicon ranges from 5 to 50 mg. The shape of silicon is important for absorbability. Orthosilicic acid (orthosilicic acid) is best absorbed in its natural form (drinking water, beer), but other forms are also absorbed.
Fiber, calcium and magnesium are possible anti-nutrients for silicon: they prevent its absorption. Oat flakes, for example, contain a lot of silicon, but its absorption is very low.
It is also interesting that beer is a good source of highly absorbable silicon (20 mg/L) and forms a separate line of research. For example, Spanish researchers have investigated the effect of beer in mice. Beer (24 mg/ml) appeared to be able to prevent the absorption of aluminum in the intestines, while decreasing aluminum in the serum and in the brain. The researchers also saw that silicic acid supplementation (50 mg Si/ml) could completely prevent the accumulation of extra aluminum in the brain!

Sources of silicon

  • Equisetum arvense (horsetail of the horsetail family)
  • Rice (brown rice or silverskin), grains (especially in the bran), hops and barley (beer), drinking water (depending on geological conditions)
  • Vegetables: green beans, spinach, root vegetables, red lentils
  • Nuts and dried fruits (fruit: usually little)
  • Mussels and other seafood
  • Meat, especially organ meat/offal: brain, heart, liver, lungs, kidneys
  • Tea (but tea can also contain a lot of aluminum)
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