Silica is a mineral that is found both in the body and in nature. In the body, it is found in hair, nails, bones and connective tissues. In nature, silica is found in leafy vegetables, potatoes, soybeans, beets, millet, whole grains, brown rice and oats. Silica is also found in some processed foods and meat, but the amounts present in these foods are far less. Organic silica is found in the earth’s crust, and it was discovered as a water-soluble form on sand grains, from which it is harvested. Organic silica is easily consumable by animals and humans, and it also contains carbon.
The organic mineral can be found in a number of products, including silica shampoo, oral silica supplements and organic silica gel. These products purport to have benefits that improve hair’s shine, fingernails’ strength, joint flexibility and skin's youthfulness. Medically, silica has been touted to help ward off fragile bones from osteoporosis by making bones stronger, aid digestion and hair loss and forestall Alzheimer’s disease. Enough evidence does not exist to prove these medical claims, however, and more research is needed. Silica is considered safe when consumed in amounts that are normally found in food, but no safe levels of medical supplementation have been established.
Proponents of organic silica say it can help with constipation and digestive problems, and it is recommended sometimes to ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Some proponents of silica also say it will improve flagging energy levels. Silica helps the human body absorb necessary minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, and it is an ingredient in some successful wound treatments and in the treatments of sprains.
There are some drawbacks to silica supplementation. With silica-containing antacids, for example, people who use the supplements on a long-term basis may develop painful kidney stones, although this is considered a rare side effect. A person who eats a balanced diet and also takes a multivitamin that also contains minerals probably does not need silica supplements. Doctors say women who are worried about developing osteoporosis can safely take calcium supplements, and men with similar worries can add extra calcium from natural sources in their diets. Women who already suffer from osteoporosis will not derive benefit from silica supplementation.