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Silicon: foods and health benefits

Siski Green / 08 November 2021

Silicon, not to be confused with silicone, is found in plant fibres and helps keep bones, cartilage, tendons and artery walls strong.

Heart shape made from oats
Oats are a great source of silicon

Silicon, not to be confused with silicone, helps keep bones, cartilage, tendons and artery walls strong.

What is silicon used for?

Silicon is found in trace amounts everywhere in the body, but researchers aren’t clear on how it functions in the body. It appears to be useful for cell strength, and helps promote healthy hair, nails, skin, as well as bones, cartilage, tendons and artery walls.

It shouldn’t be confused with silicone, which is a type of synthetic polymer.

There is currently insufficient evidence to prove silicon’s efficacy for any illnesses or problems. It is considered possibly effective for osteoporosis in younger women – where women with diets high in silicon can reduce the risk of weak bones; however the same effect has not been proven in older women who take supplements.

What’s the best way to take silicon?

There is no recommended daily intake for silicon, so ideally you would get what your body needs via your diet. Foods such as alfalfa, beetroot, brown rice, oats, sweet peppers, soy beans, sunflower seeds, parsley, and leafy green vegetables will supply all the silicon you need if eaten regularly.

There are, however, tablet and capsule supplements containing silicon, often combined with other nutrients intended to protect collagen production. But while a diet that includes 40mg of silicon per day seems to be linked with stronger bones, to date, there simply isn’t enough evidence to support taking a specific amount of supplemental silicon for the purpose of improving symptoms of osteoporosis.

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Where can I get silicon?

Silicon is found in plant fibres, especially whole grains such as wheat, oats, barley and rice, as well as onions and beetroot.

Supplements are also available in capsule and tablet form, but there is little evidence to support taking them unless you have been advised to do so by your doctor. Furthermore, it’s not known how much silicon we need for optimum health so taking a supplement may not be healthy.

What are the side effects of taking silicon?

There are no side effects associated with ingesting silicon via your diet, and there is insufficient evidence to know what side effects might occur when taking it as a supplement.

Are there any contraindications when taking silicon?

If you’ve undergone a gastrectomy your body may not metabolise silicon in the same way as before, check with your GP before taking any supplements.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.