If you want to improve your hair and nail health, you’ve likely encountered an ingredient known as silica. Many people report that silica is excellent for hair and nail health, but what exactly is silica? What is silica used for? And does it have the benefits that people claim it does?
Silica is short for silicon dioxide (SiO2). It is a natural compound made of silicon (Si) and oxygen (O2). Silicon dioxide is found abundantly in nature. It is found in water, plants, animals, and the earth itself, with 59 percent of the earth’s crust composed of silica. It also makes up more than 95 percent of the rocks found on the earth, including all of the sand we find at the beach.
Silicon dioxide can even be found in the human body. However, scientists are not exactly sure what role it plays, even though it is considered an essential nutrient.
Research on silica suggests that it has a variety of potential health benefits. For example, according to one report by the University of Memphis, “silica may help protect your heart health by reducing the risk of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries while lowering cholesterol.”
Being a mineral, silica may help build other mineral-based tissues in our bodies, such as our bones, hair, teeth and nails. There are also many anecdotal reports of people claiming that silica helped them improve their hair and nail health. Several studies have pointed to similar effects as well. However, more research is still needed to confirm the effects and safety of silica.
Is Silica Bad for You?
Food-grade silica is considered safe for human consumption. Diatomaceous Earth or hydrated silica are examples of food-grade silica supplements. However, silica powder can be hazardous if inhaled. Inhaling crystalline silica can damage the lungs and lead to serious, sometimes even fatal, illnesses, including silicosis, tuberculosis, and lung diseases. Some people argue that silica has a similarly damaging effect on the intestinal tract, though no scientific evidence supports this.
There is a lot of controversy around the safety of silica. There is evidence that it can boost hair and nail health and support detoxification, yet there is also evidence that it can cause lung diseases if inhaled. There are also claims that it can damage your gut or negatively affect your immune system if consumed, though there are lacking scientific evidence to support them.
While food-grade silica has been consumed by many and appears safe for consumption, many people debate whether the potential risks of silica are worth the potential benefits. Therefore, if you are considering supplementing with silica, it is recommended to consult with your doctor first.
There are also many other ways to improve hair and nail health and achieve silica's health benefits without the potential risks.