Lately I’ve been reading a lot of information pointing to silica as a key player in skin health – especially elasticity. Ah, skin elasticity – one of the most difficult skin care concerns we skin therapists deal with. Honestly, it’s just downright difficult to take sagging, hanging skin and significantly tighten it back up again. Costly major medical procedures like facelifts may pull skin taut, but they do little to improve the actual physiological condition that has caused the sagging – loss of elasticity. So, when I begin seeing article after article published on the beneficial effects of silica for skin elasticity, of course I become curious. Is silica really nature’s wonder source for healthy, tight, youthful skin?
What is Silica?
Silicon is a naturally occurring element and the second-most common element in the Earth’s crust. It is classified in dietary guidelines as a trace mineral. Most forms of this element are not absorbable by the body, but one form in particular can be absorbed in the human body – silicon dioxide (silica). Silica is found in greater amounts in plant-based foods and is scarce in animal based foods.
In 1939, Nobel Prize winner, Adolf Butenant proved that life cannot exist without silica. His research, conducted at Columbia University, proved that silica is an essential nutrient and must be supplied continuously from food.
So what does that have to do with silica’s effect on the skin?
Well, it seems that silica plays an important role in a number of body functions, not the least of which is the health of various tissues (including skin) in the human body. As we age, our skin begins to degenerate at a more accelerated rate due to an increasing inability to retain moisture. This loss of hydration in the lower layers of the skin is critically detrimental to collagen and elastin health. This loss of hydration and the resulting damage to collagen elastin leaves us with dull, sagging, prematurely aged skin. Silica slows the degeneration of the skin by helping the various skin constituents (elastin, collagen, mucopolysaccharides, etc.) remain vital and able to retain moisture. Actually, collagen itself is largely made up of silica!
But should I really run to the local health store and start supplementing with silica?
Maybe, maybe not. The research is conflicting. Don’t you just hate that? One study says a substance is a wonder-substance, another study says it may cause you to grow a third ear and a tail. You really have to wonder how all the researchers come up with so much conflicting information. At any rate, there is good evidence that many silica supplements may not only be a waste of money but may also be hard on your digestive system.
So what type of silica is beneficial?
Promoters of silica supplementation recommend aqueous extractions of vegetal silica. This is a patented method of extraction by Dr. Louis Kervran. This particular form of silica is bonded to a group of water soluble bioflavonoids making it a safe and easily assimilated form of silica for the human body. This form of silica is typically extracted from the spring horsetail plant.
Another, and maybe the best way, to get adequate amounts of this skin-saving nutrient into the body is through diet. Yes, we’ve all heard it a thousand times before, but it really is the best way to get all the good stuff – fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. Specifically, beets, brown rice, oats, bell peppers, green beans, leafy greens, asparagus, parsley, sunflower seeds, artichokes and grain husks from whole grain oats, barley, millet and wheat are all rich in silica. If you’re in to bottled water, it’s also worth mentioning that the popular Fiji Water has far, far more silica in it than any other major bottled water product.
The bottom line?
I don’t have personal testimony about the skin improving effects of silica, however, my research came up with hundreds and hundreds of positive reviews from people touting the improvements they’d seen in their hair, skin, and nails since supplementing with silica.
Due to the levels of silica in key skin tissues and the way silica functions to help the important tissues retain important hydration, it makes complete sense that silica is an important nutrient for reducing premature aging and improving the appearance of the skin. Clearly, the earlier we think along these lines the better – skin that has been mistreated for 65 years just cannot be instantly repaired by any product, potion, lotion, or trace mineral. However, even in advanced aging – nutrients always provide a benefit to the body (and the skin), so though it may not be a wonder-cure for sagging skin, silica may very well provide some tightening benefit as well as significantly slowing down the processes that lead us to sagging skin in the first place. If your diet isn’t already rich in foods containing silica, you may want to consider a silica supplement as outlined above.
A few legal tidbits:
This article is published for information purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.