Silicon supplement health benefit,
risk, side effects, orthosilicic acid, by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Information on silicon dioxide - benefit or harm?
January 6 2016
On planet Earth, silicon is the second most abundant element (after oxygen) in the crust. In the form of silica and silicates, silicon forms useful glasses and ceramics. At this time it is not clear which medical conditions would be helped by adding a silicon supplement.
Met Ions Life Sci. 2013. Silicon: the health benefits of a metalloid. Silicon has been suggested to exhibit roles in the structural integrity of nails, hair, and skin, overall collagen synthesis, bone mineralization, and bone health and reduced metal accumulation in Alzheimer's disease, immune system health, and reduction of the risk for atherosclerosis. Although emerging research is promising, much additional, corroborative research is needed particularly regarding speciation of health-promoting forms of silicon and its relative bioavailability. Orthosilicic acid is the major form of bioavailable silicon. It has been proposed that relatively insoluble forms of silica can also release small but meaningful quantities of silicon into biological compartments. For example, colloidal silicic acid, silica gel, and zeolites, although relatively insoluble in water, can increase concentrations of water-soluble silica and are thought to rely on specific structural physicochemical characteristics. Collectively, the food supply contributes enough silicon in the forms aforementioned that could be absorbed and significantly improve overall human health despite the negative perception of silica as a health hazard. This review discusses the possible biological potential of the metalloid silicon as bioavailable orthosilicic acid and the potential beneficial effects on human health.
Silicon and hair thickness
Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair.
Arch Dermatol Res. 2007.
Silicon has been suggested to have a role in the formation of connective tissue and is present at 1-10 ppm in hair. Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid is a bioavailable form of silicon which was found to improve skin microrelief and skin mechanical properties in women with photoaged skin. The effect of Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair was investigated in a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study. Forty-eight women with fine hair were given 10 mg silicon a day in the form of Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid beadlets or a placebo, orally for 9 months. Hair morphology and tensile properties were evaluated before and after treatment. Urinary silicon concentration increased significantly in the Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid supplemented group but not in the placebo group. The cross sectional area increased significantly after 9 months compared to baseline in Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid supplemented subjects but not in the placebo group. The change in urinary silicon excretion was significantly correlated with the change in cross sectional area. Oral intake of Choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid had a positive effect on tensile strength including elasticity and break load and resulted in thicker hair.
Role in bone health and osteoporosis
Silicon improves bone matrix quality and facilitates bone mineralization. Increased intake of bioavailable silicon has been associated with increased bone mineral density. Silicon supplementation in animals and humans has been shown to increase bone mineral density and improve bone strength.
Dietary sources of bioavailable silicon include whole grains, cereals, beer, and some vegetables such as green beans. Silicon in the form of silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is a common food additive but has limited intestinal absorption.
Absorption from food and supplements
The comparative absorption of silicon from different foods and food supplements.
Br J Nutr. 2009. Gastrointestinal Laboratory, The Rayne Institute (King's College London), St Thomas' Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK.
Dietary Silicon (orthosilicic acid) appears important in connective tissue health, and although the sources and intakes of Si are well established, its absorption is not. Silicon absorption was measured from eight high-Si-containing sources: alcohol-free beer; OSA solution (positive control); bananas; green beans; supplemental choline-stabilised OSA (ChOSA); supplemental colloidal silica (CS); magnesium trisilicate British Pharmacopoeia antacid (MTBP). Absorption, based on urinary Silicon excretion, was highest for MMST (the first French patent for the use of organic silicon) and alcohol-free beer (64% of dose), followed by green beans (44%), OSA (43%), ChOSA (17%), bananas and CS (1%). Peak serum concentrations occurred by 0.5 h for MMST and green beans, 1.5 h for OSA and alcohol-free beer, 2 h for ChOSA and CS. Absorption of Si from supplements and antacids was consistent with their known chemical speciation and kinetics of dissolution under simulated gastrointestinal conditions. Monomeric silicates were readily absorbed, while particulate silicates were decreasingly well absorbed with increasing polymerisation. The present results highlight the need to allow for relative absorption of Si from different foods or supplements in subsequent epidemiological and intervention studies.
Safety, toxicity, risk reports from users
I got a funny feeling, sort of related to diaphram area, giving me uncomfortable feeling that made me want to sit up and repostion my lungs and stomache. As part of the sequelae to this problem, I experienced some palpitations of heart too. . . sort of a loss of a beat every once in a while, as if heart was experiening some agitation or sensed something [glass] in lower chamber and was responding to that sensation. Hard to tell on something like this. However, I will say the tempation to persevere with Biosil was nevertheless strong, thinking it could lessen wrinkles. . . I would stop for weeks and these symtoms would go away, then be looking at my face and its wrinkles and think, oh you have some drops of biosil left, go ahead and try them, you don't know that it is bad for you, and it says it is proven that it reduces wrinkles. . . . and so I would try it again and get same strange sensations around diaphram, and heart palpitation sensation. . . most irritating awareness of an odd thud of my heart that I have never in my life had before. . . Hard to believe I would dare jeaprodize my internal self with something that is apparently untested for side affects, just for my hoped for external benefits of less wrinkles.
Thank you for your very informative and reassuring article on the benefits and side effects of silicon supplements. I have been taking them to help with my thinning hair. Last week I landed at t he doctor's office suffering from anxiety attacks that have just started within the past 6 weeks. tightness in my chest, shortness of breath, constantly feeling like I need to 'stretch' my chest and lungs, heart palpatations. Looking at my calendar I noticed my reminders to take my BioSil started about 6 weeks ago, so I looked up side effects, and found your page, listing out the exact problems I've been having.
Los Angeles-based Jarrow Formulas is adding BioSil, a form of silicon to its product line. In addition to its 30 ml liquid and 30-capsule size, Jarrow introduced BioSil in a 60-capsule size. Each BioSil capsule in both the 30- and 60-capsule sizes has 5 mg of silicon as a stabilized, concentrated orthosilicic acid per Vegi-cap. BioSil Caps is the encapsulated version of the patented liquid concentrate of stabilized orthosilicic acid. The company claims Stabilized orthosilicic acid is Biologically Active Silicon because it is the only form of silicon absorbed directly through the stomach wall and the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream. More research is needed with silicon to determine if the claims by Jarrow Formulas is correct regarding BioSil to be the only form of silicon absorbed directly through the stomach wall and gastrointestinal tract.
Jarrow Formulas silicon supplement BioSil contains a
choline-stabilized and concentrated form of orthosilicic acid, ch-OSA. This
product was tested on hair thickness, strength and elasticity and the results
were presented by University of Cincinnati College of Pharmacy Professor R.
Randall Wickett at the Fifth International Congress of Hair Research held in
Vancouver Canada on June 13-16, 2007. An international research team conducted a
9-month, randomized, double-blind placebo controlled study using 48 healthy
Caucasian women with fine hair and an average age of 43 years. Half the women
supplemented their regular diet with 10 mg of silicon in the form of choline-stabilized
orthosilicic acid, while the other half received a placebo. The BioSil group
experienced an improvement over the placebo group including:
Increased cross sectional area of hair fibers: 7.8 percent increase average (twice the placebo group)
Increased diameter of hair fibers: 3.8 percent increase average (1.7 percent for the placebo group).
Hair tensile strength and elasticity decreased significantly in the placebo group (- 10.8 %) whereas in the BioSil group no significant change was observed.
“This is a rigorously controlled study demonstrating that the oral intake of a dietary supplement may improve hair quality,” says Randy Wickett, Ph.D, Professor and Director of the Cosmetic Science Program at the University of Cincinnati. “Hair tensile properties such as strength and elasticity may degrade over time because of exposure to sunlight or other factors. In this study the intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid increased the diameter of the hair and reduced the loss of elasticity and tensile strength compared to placebo.”
BioSil contains a choline-stabilized and concentrated form of orthosilicic acid, ch-OSA and is manufactured by Bio Minerals n.v. in Destelbergen, Belgium.
Jarrow Formulas, Inc. is a nutritional supplement formulator and marketer founded in 1977 and incorporated in 1988. The company markets its products throughout the United States and internationally in more than 20 countries in Europe, Asia, Israel and Latin America. The company offers a complete line of nutritional products that includes vitamins, minerals, probiotics, standardized herbal concentrates, amino acids, enzymes and enteral nutrition formulations.
Q. Do you know how much silicon is absorbed per serving
with Biosil? It is marketed as being "highly bioavailable" but studies i have
read state that the type of silicon in Biosil has an absorption rate of around
17% (compared to 60-70% for other forms of silicon such as Monomethylsilanetriol).
I am unsure as to whether the 10drops=10mg silicon as printed on the bottle is
what's actually being absorbed or not?
A. I have not studied the absorption characteristics of this product so I don't know at this time.
Q. Any thoughts on the safety and/or effectiveness of orthosilicic acid supplements such as Jarrow Biosil? I ask because I've read organic silicon can help improve skin texture and hair quality but I am concerned about toxicity. Any thoughts would be most helpful.
A. We have not seen any significant human research with orthosilicic acid, silicon supplements or Jarrow Biosil, hence we don't have a strong opinion on this supplement at this time.
A question about BioSil with Silicon (as Choline
Stablized Orthosilicic Acid) (ch-OSA) 5mg for skin hair and nails. Is this
product safe for a person to take that is on a very low protein diet? Is it safe
for the kidneys? I've talked to my dietitian and said there shouldn't not be a
problem. I've talked to my local pharmasist and not being able to very the
silicon he said the rest of the ingredients would not be a problem. I've talked
to my doctor and she is not fimilar with the product and would suggest not. What
would be your thoughts? Is there a product for Hair skin and nails you could
Not enough studies have been done with BioSil with silicon to know its long term benefits and side effects. See hair for more information.
Silicon dioxide in supplement
Q. About how many milligrams of silicon dioxide is put in nutritional supplements capsules?
A. About 10 mg of silicon dioxide is a rough estimate.
Q. I would like to know if silicon dioxide is safe. I notice when I take supplements with both silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate in them I get a pain in my upper left side. Silicon dioxide is a form of glass is it not? I want to take citicoline at about 200mg and L carnosine at about 200 mg, yet I can’t find them without the silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate in them.
Q. I do not want silicon dioxide in my supplement yet I
would like to take citicoline and L-Carnosine. I can’t believe all the
supplements I find with silicon dioxide and magnesium stearate in them.
A. Silicon dioxide is present in very small amounts and we have not seen any research that indicates tiny amounts of silicon dioxide or magnesium stearate are harmful. The side effects of the supplements are more likely due to the actual active nutrients rather than the silicon dioxide or magnesium stearate.