Silicon and Bone Health: Part 1: The Basics

Silicon is absolutely necessary for healthy bones.

Silicon is classified as a “beneficial element” and most people tend to know of its benefits for hair, skin, and nails.  People typically talk about silicon's anti-aging benefits, such as lustrous hair or having a 'healthy glow'.

But most people are not aware of the benefits of silicon for bone and skeletal health, which are more recently recognized - dating back only ten years or so.  One of the reasons why it is just now receiving attention is that while researches have known about the important connection for some time, the public discussion has generally been about calcium and vitamin D. Silicon is typically found in small amounts , and in varying types, in multi-vitamins. Today is recognized as absolutely necessary in supplements that promote better bone health.

Calcium and vitamin D remain critical to bone health, but silicon provides additional benefits – both as a newly appreciated element, and in its interaction with calcium and vitamin D.   The special tissues that form and maintain healthy hair, nails, and bone absolutely depend on silicon. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust.  That means it has played an important role in bone formation going back to the first humans and is fundamental to bones’ support structure. In fact, bone won't form without adequate amounts of dietary silicon.

Silicon is also essential for bone calcification – the process that drives calcium into bone. Silicon attracts calcium to bone protein to assist in the formation of new bone, and the strengthening of mature bone. Unlike calcium and other minerals like strontium, zinc, or copper that are difficult to absorb completely and can build up in the body – when silicon has completed the calcification process, it leaves the body so that very little silicon remains in the bone, even though it’s completely safe and natural. .

Natural silicon should not be confused with silica, silicone, or silicates – mixtures of silicon with other elements that are frequently used for industrial purposes! These compositions are not easily digestible and should be avoided in supplements.  Silicon in supplements should imitate the silicon found in diet, meaning it should be formulated to ‘improve biological availability’ – or in layman’s terms, be formulated in a way the body is used to using and can easily digest.

The amount of silicon from organic sources that is associated with improved bone mineral density is approximately 40 mg per day.  Low bone mass or bone density is of course one of the leading factors for osteoporosis – a disease that affects some 10 million Americans.  Yet the average American woman over the age of 45 consumes less than half that amount from dietary sources.  Whole foods and nutrition are the foundation of good bone health, but there are a limited number of dietary sources of silicon.  Whole grains are one category, but most of the foods in that list– cereals, breads, crackers, and snacks - are processed, negating some of the health benefits of their silicon content.  Brown rice and green beans are also dietary sources of silicon (you can read more about food sources of silicon here), and there is another unlikely source that we’ll talk more about in Part 2.... Beer.

Because silicon is limited in dietary sources, it’s important to supplement with an organic form of silicon, in addition to calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K2, boron and other important nutrients for bone health.  Today, these select ingredients are recognized as  very important for better bone health.  Balancing with these nutrients also keeps the level of calcium in supplements at a safer level.  Excess calcium supplementation is linked to an increase in heart attack and kidney stones.  Silicon and other nutrients also assist with absorption and utilization of calcium – helping calcium get into bone and away from the heart and other areas of the body where it can do harm.  In fact, more than 2000 mg per day of calcium actually increases the risk of fractures.

Population studies support silicon’s role in decreasing the risk of bone fracture. Parts of the world with high amounts of silicon (in soil and food sources) have lower rates of hip fracture.  That’s one statistic American women should take note of because one in six women will have a hip fracture after the age of 50.

Silicon has numerous health benefits in addition to bone health, but bone health alone is a good reason to supplement with Silical® *- the only bone health supplement that provides an organic form of silicon with enough to help you reach the level that is known to help bone density.

*Adequate calcium and vitamin D, throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

5 thoughts on “Silicon and Bone Health: Part 1: The Basics”

  • Natural Anti Aging Products

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  • IVAN PEDRO J. SCHIFFER
    IVAN PEDRO J. SCHIFFER September 23, 2014 at 2:07 am

    The explanation is good but it lacks in depth knowledge on Organic Silicca's transmutation into Calcium...

    There is no such a thing as "absorption"as usually stated in too many pseudo scientific essays, the Bio Chemical processes in a living organism is much more complex than that. If one could imagine a laboratory the size of the distance between the earth and the sun it would still not be enough to synthesize the sequence of activity to maintain the flow of life.

    The author says "the process that drives Calcium into the bone" I wonder where does he gets such nonsense from ? I understand one must try to make scientific language simple for the layman to understand, but to make inaccurate assertions to make a point is a dangerous issue. For such a statement there must be a valid and well designed study, I would really like to know about it because in 40 years of research in Human and Animal Chemistry I have not yet seen one, actually there is no evidence or study that shows how Calcium would approach the bones.
    Also the author should be more clear in differentiating Rock derived Mineral Silica from Plant derived Organic Silica, Because of the similarity in names there are too many products out there, especially in Germany where supplement manufacturers promote Mineral sources of Silica without knowing that it has the damaging effect of decalcifying, the article also avoids to mention the source of the "Organic Silica" and the process of rendering it dynamic.

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    • Institute for Better Bone Health

      Firstly, Silical System DOES use a pure form of organic silicon devoid of plant extracts and other potentially hazardous ingredients.

      You are correct that there are a lot of products that use "silica" in their name - which can be confusing. We hope to educate consumers on the difference between organic silicon and other types so they will make a safe and healthy choice.

      In order to do so, people must understand some basic principles about silicon. Silicon does not exist alone in nature - it is always bound to another element, and these are called silicon compounds. With organic silicon, the silicon is bound to carbon and it's easily digested because carbon is the basic element of life forms on Earth. This is not the case for other forms of silicon like "silica" (sand) or "silicone" (rubber). The term "organic" is confusing but it basically means something compatible with life, or from a living organism. In other words, something that is safe to put in your body.

      “Absorption” is commonly used to indicate how nutrients are taken into the body through the intestinal tract. Absorption most definitely occurs because food is absorbed into our bodies - or we would starve. Some things we eat are absorbed and some are not. For example, we cannot absorb sand or rocks, which are made from “silica”. It's confusing because there are foods that contain "silica" like powdered chocolate milk (added to the powder to prevent clumping of the chocolate) but the silica goes through the intestinal tract without being absorbed into the body. Absorption is a huge consideration in supplemental silicon.

      Finally, silicon creates bone by attracting calcium to bone. This has been established by numerous scientific studies. Silicon is 25 times more concentrated in immature bone than in mature bone, and bone won’t form without it (E. Carlisle, Science 1970 p.279; E. Carlisle, Nutrition Reviews 1982, p.193; K. Noris-Suarez Biomacromolecules 2007, p.941, K. Noris-Suarez, continuing research). As the calcium replaces silicon in bone, the silicon disappears because it is no longer needed. Plenty of research has shown that silicon does not become calcium, but silicon is replaced by calcium during the process of bone formation.

      In summary, it’s important to consume organic forms of silicon that can be digested and absorbed into the body so that silicon can influence the collagen protein to become bone. Then, with exercise and pressure on the collagen, silicon develops a negative electrical charge that attracts the positively charged calcium ions. After the calcium is attached to the collagen, bone is formed and silicon has done its job without actually becoming calcium.

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  • Nevada Smith

    So, is food grade diamataceous earth a good source of silica? My mother took it and it did wonders for her nails.

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    • Liqui-Site

      Hello Nevada, no one has specifically studied diatomaceous earth but it is rich in silicon. Something similar to diatomaceous earth is zeolite that has aluminum and silicon. When zeolite has been fed to race horses, their bones get stronger and they have fewer injuries. The bioavailability of silicon in diatomaceous earth isn't known, but there are reasons to believe that it may provide silicon as a health benefit.

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