- Silicon dioxide is made of oxygen and silicon, the first and second most abundant elements in the earth's crust.
- Silicon dioxide is found as an additive in many foods and is safe to consume as a supplement as long you take the recommended daily dose as advised by the FDA.
- Although it is not the most common supplement on its own, there are some silicon dioxide benefits to consider based on the potential link between silica and the healthy formation of bones and collagen.
Liquid Silicon Dioxide Supplement
Silicon dioxide (SiO2) is a naturally occurring compound typically found in various types of plants and animals as well as drinking water. Commonly known as silica, this compound is composed of oxygen and silicon, the first and second most abundant elements found in the Earth’s crust, respectively. Silicon is a completely safe natural element not to be confused with silicone, spelled similarly, which is a type of flexible plastic made from the element. If these names are getting a little confusing, don’t worry! We’ll make sure you have it all squared away in the next section.
For now, let’s introduce some of the various ways you might encounter silica on a daily basis. Probably the most common form of silicon dioxide present in various foods and medicines is colloidal silicon dioxide. Colloidal silicon dioxide is a food additive deemed safe by the FDA that is typically used as an anti-caking agent to prevent clumping in powdered materials. Common foods containing colloidal silicon dioxide include flour, protein and baking powders, confectioner’s sugar, salt, seasoning mixtures, beer, and dried egg products (1). It is also frequently found in supplements and other pharmaceuticals, with colloidal silicon dioxide in suspension and thickening practices being quite widely utilized. Colloidal silicon dioxide solubility is nonexistent, as it cannot dissolve in water, which is what makes it an excellent anti-caking agent.
Though it’s typically used only as a food additive, liquid silicon dioxide supplement options are available on their own as well. As of recent studies, there is still very little known about the effects of silicon dioxide on the body when taken in the form of supplements, but the compound itself has been at least partially linked to a few different health benefits. Read on to learn more about this frequently occurring compound and any potential advantages and risks associated with consuming it regularly.
Silicon Dioxide Common Name
As we mentioned above, the silicon dioxide common name is silica, though it is occasionally also referred to as silicic anhydride or silicate. It is important to keep in mind the difference between silicon dioxide and pure silicon, which are two entirely separate substances. Silicon dioxide contains silicon within it, bonded with oxygen, while silicon itself is simply a pure element. So, in the case of silica vs silicon supplements, a silica supplement will give you a dosage of silicon dioxide (silicon and oxygen) whereas a silicon supplement will provide a dosage of only the pure element silicon.
In nature, silicon dioxide is present in the form of quartz and sand, typically appearing in a crystalline state within the Earth’s crust. It is also present within organic life as well, appearing in the cartilage, ligaments, and musculature of the human body as well as plants. Quite often, silicon dioxide is present in drinking water, attesting to the safeness of its consumption in the average human diet. In fact, many commonly eaten plants contain some levels of silicon dioxide, including leafy green vegetables, beets, bell peppers, brown rice, oats, and alfalfa (2). Although it is frequently added to powdered foods to prevent clumping and such, it does occur naturally in vegetables and grains as well.
Silicon Dioxide Uses In Medicine
Silicon dioxide uses in medicine are typically for pharmaceutical purposes. As we will cover in the next section, it often appears in tablets in order to render both the tablet-making process and the actual tablet usage much easier. Silicon dioxide in supplements plays largely the same role, acting as an anti-caking agent to keep powders from clumping together. Since colloidal silicon dioxide is inert and practically insoluble, it is also employed as a coating for supplements and other pharmaceuticals.
Aside from its presence in silica, silicon itself has a few separate roles in the medical field. Though there is very little known about the biological use of silicon in the body, it has been linked with bone and collagen formation. For that reason, silicon medicine uses include treatment for osteoporosis and other conditions causing weak bones, hair loss, and overall hair and nail quality improvements. It is also occasionally used to treat heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, digestive system disorders, sprains, strains, and minor skin healing (3).
Silicon tablets and supplements are uncommon to find, as the more popular option when it comes to taking a supplement containing silicon is to simply take silicon dioxide instead. There are some possible benefits to taking a silicon dioxide supplement, which you can find out more about in the next section, but the most common use for silica in pharmaceuticals is the presence of colloidal silicon dioxide in tablets and other supplements as a safe additive.
Colloidal silicon dioxide uses in tablets occur in both the tablet-making process and the actual digestion of the tablet itself after consumption. It is most commonly used as an anti-caking agent and adsorbent to keep powders and other substances from clumping together during production and storage of the supplement. When the tablet is actually processed by the body, colloidal silicon dioxide acts as both a disintegrant and a glidant, allowing powdered materials to move about uninhibitedly (4). This employment as an additive to other supplements and tablets rather than usage on its own as a supplement is the most common way you will see silicon dioxide utilized for health and wellness.
Silicon Dioxide Benefits
Although it is not the most common supplement on its own, there are some silicon dioxide benefits to consider based on the small links possibly discovered between silica and the formation of bones and collagen. If this truly is the biological link between this compound and the human body, then possible silicon dioxide uses may include strengthening bones, combating aging effects on skin, and improving overall skin healing. Keep in mind that these uses are not officially proven by scientific studies yet, so it’s always best to talk to your physician before starting to take a silicon dioxide supplement.
Another possible benefit of silica supplements is counteracting silicon and silica deficiency symptoms. Since the biological roles of these two substances are not currently known, it can be hard to nail down the exact results of a deficiency. However, the symptoms sometimes associated with silicon deficiency include weak bones, deformities in skull and peripheral bones, joint pain, and poor mineral balance. Taking a silica supplement may help alleviate these symptoms, since it contains a dosage of silicon, but again, you should always speak with a physician before adding a new supplement to your dietary routine.
Silica Supplements Dangers
Since silica is a food additive, there are often inquiries surrounding its role in nutrition and questioning the potential dangers it may pose when consumed regularly. Many people wonder, “Why is silicon dioxide bad? Is silicon dioxide in vitamins dangerous? Is silicon dioxide safe to consume?” But, just like every other micronutrient, silica in vitamins and other foods is safe to consume as long as you do not exceed the recommended levels. According to the FDA, your daily intake of silica should not exceed 10-30 grams, or 2% of your daily food intake (5). It should be easy to stay within that range while sticking to a normal diet and not consuming excessive amounts of supplements.
Some may fear silica supplements dangers when they hear terms like “silicosis.” Silicosis is a type of lung disease caused by breathing in small particles of crystalline silica, a substance typically only found in mines (6). This form of silica is not the same as the silicon dioxide found in supplements, plants, drinking water, and food additives. Therefore, taking silica supplements and consuming food and drinks that contain the compound should not directly result in the development of silicosis or other lung-related diseases as long as you do not exceed the daily recommended levels laid out by the FDA.
Silicon Dioxide Side Effects
Consuming this compound in safe amounts should not result in little to no silicon dioxide side effects. Aside from the lung-related diseases associated with the crystalline form of silica, the only other cause for slight concern may be a link found between the development of kidney stones and the long-term usage of antacids containing silicon (7). However, silicon and silica are typically present in very small amounts in both foods and supplements, unless taken as their own separate supplement, so side effects related to them should be minimal. If you frequently experience skin sensitivity or reactions, you may want to be cautious of a silicon dioxide allergy, as one study performed in 2016 found that colloidal silica could possibly create skin hypersensitivity reactions (8). As always, consult with your physician before taking silica supplements to make sure they are safe for your body and your unique circumstances.
If you’re interested in supplements for the whole family that contain no additives at all, consider trying Better Family’s Liquid Daily Multivitamin. Our diverse blend of vital micronutrients includes all of the B complex vitamins, vitamins A, E, D, and K, and important minerals like zinc, iodine, selenium, and chromium. This all-in-one liquid solution can be consumed sublingually and is more concentrated than other liquid multivitamins, making it the standout choice for fast absorption of only the highest quality micronutrients. Both safe and effective, our Liquid Daily Multivitamin is a great choice for any household and can be given to family members of all ages.
- Levy, Jillian. “What Is Silicon Dioxide and Is It Safe?” Dr. Axe, 3 November 2019, https://draxe.com/nutrition/what-is-silicon-dioxide.
- Schaefer, Anna. “Is Silicon Dioxide Safe?” healthline, 19 June 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/is-silicon-dioxide-in-supplements-safe.
- Martin, Keith R. “Silicon: the health benefits of a metalloid.” Met Ions Life Science, 2013, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24470100.
- “Silicon Dioxide Colloidal.” Drugs.com, 10 March 2021, https://www.drugs.com/inactive/silicon-dioxide-colloidal-200.html.
- “Foods High in Silica.” WebMD, 5 November 2020, https://www.webmd.com/diet/foods-high-in-silica.
- “Learn About Silicosis.” American Lung Association, 23 March 2020, https://www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/silicosis/learn-about-silicosis.
- “Silicon.” Medicine Net, 11 June 2021, https://www.medicinenet.com/silicon/supplements-vitamins.htm.
- Fredj, Ben Nadia et al. “Colloidal silica-induced hypersensitivity: myth or reality.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, 2016, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26613737.
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