Silicon - The 'Beauty' Mineral - Information on Deficiency, Benefits, Food Sources
Silicon is an essential trace mineral. Only very tiny amounts of this element are present in the tissues and the actual amount required by the body has not been determined so far.
Silicon is a widely distributed non-metallic element. It is second only to oxygen in abundance in the biosphere. Pure silicon is found in the form of white crystals in matured bamboo stems. This mineral and its salts are poorly soluble in water.
Silicon Benefits - Functions in the Body
Silicon is essential for the proper functioning of nerve cells and tissues, and the synthesis of vitamin B1 or thiamine in the human body. It controls the transmission of nerve impulses. It contributes greatly to the strength and integrity of bones everywhere in the body. It is also essential for the growth of hair, nails, and teeth, and is, therefore often called the 'beauty mineral'. It makes the eyes bright and protects the skin from becoming flabby. It is beneficial in all healing processes and protects the body against many diseases, such as tuberculosis, irritations in the mucous membranes, and skin disorders.
Silicon Rich Food Sources
The main food sources of silicon are apples, oranges, cherries, raisins, almonds, peanuts, raw cabbage, onions, endives, carrots, eggplants, pumpkin, red beets, celery, cucumber, fish, honey, and corn. An increased need for silicon is best met by increasing the consumption of whole grains, because they are rich sources of absorbable silicon.
Silicon Deficiency Symptoms
Deficiency of silicon in animals causes retarded growth and abnormal bone development. A deficiency in human beings can lead to soft brittle nails, ageing symptoms of the skin such as wrinkles, thinning or loss of hair, poor bone development, osteoporosis(a condition of brittle bones caused by hormonal changes or lack of calcium or vitamin D). The chief symptom of silicon deficiency is sensitiveness to cold: one always feels cold even in the hot months.
Silicon Side Effects - Precautions
Toxicity of silicon can lead to chronic fibrosis of the lungs. Its reckless use can cause irreparable damage. This mineral should therefore be administered only on the advice of a physician.