It’s no secret that here at Sönd, we’re fans of silica. It’s the superstar ingredient in our alkalising skincare range and the key ingredient that makes us stand out in our holistic approach to skincare.
But what actually is silica? Is it different from silicone? Silica isn’t heard of very often, so why do we love it so much? And why is it so beneficial for our bodies, in particular, our skin?
Silica is a natural product and has countless beneficial properties for our body, so let’s take a deeper look at this amazing substance.
What is Silica Made of? Is it Different from Silicon?
Silica is a chemical compound, which means that it’s made of more than one chemical element. Just like carbon dioxide is a compound and consists of carbon and oxygen, silica consists of silicon and oxygen. It’s also therefore called silicon dioxide.
So, silica is the compound, silicon is the raw element. Silicon readily bonds with oxygen to form silica, and for this reason (and since there’s an abundance of oxygen on earth), it's rarely present in nature. Silica is and is a very common element in the earth's crust.
(Silicone on the other hand is a synthetic, man made rubberised substance made by combining silicon, oxygen, carbon and hydrogen. It’s used as an alternative to plastic and in surgical implants.)
Where is Silica Found?
Silica is found in sand, glass, quartz crystals, opals, flint and granite - and those little dehydration sachets used in new handbags and shoe boxes (as well as the now familiar Covid lateral flow test kits).
It’s also the third most abundant trace element in the human body after iron and zinc. Therefore it’s vitally important to many of our bodily functions.
What Are the Benefits of Silica to Our Health?
Silica stimulates the metabolism of calcium, an important mineral in the health and strength of our teeth, bones and connective tissues. It helps to manage the flow of calcium in and out of the bones and is therefore essential for bone health.
For this reason, it’s also useful for remineralising the teeth and bones in cases of demineralisation, decalcification and even in cases of brittle bones caused by osteoporosis. A silica deficiency is often seen in those with delayed bone growth or non-accidental bone fractures.
Is Silica Harmful to Humans?
Silica when ingested poses no risk to health. Studies have discovered that silica is indicated in the treatment of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and arteriosclerosis. Separate studies have also linked silica to helping prevent memory loss and a loss of concentration.
The immune system uses silica too as it has anti-inflammatory properties - by reducing chronic inflammation in the body, which in turn supports a healthily functioning immune system. It also supports the work of the lymph nodes and spleen, which themselves form part of the immune system.
There are also studies that have found a link between an increase in silica intake from drinking water and a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by helping to protect against the toxic effects of aluminium in drinking water.
However, heavy and prolonged exposure to silica dust is harmful, but only if we breathe it in. A common form of crystalline silica is found in workplaces such as stone, glass and clay workshops and construction sites. We go into more detail on this further down.
Silica Benefits: Is Silica Good for Skin?
The body requires silica in order to manufacture collagen and elastin - the proteins responsible for the plumpness, elasticity and youthfulness of our skin. So as well as being beneficial for our overall health, silica is also a valuable ally for our appearance!
Silica acts as a “glue”, residing inside collagen fibres, giving our skin and our connective tissues strength and flexibility. Since silica is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent, it helps to calm and soothe irritated eczema and psoriasis prone skin.
It also plays a role in the production of skin hydrating compounds such as hyaluronic acid.
This wonder compound also helps the blood carry oxygen - in fact, it helps the red blood cells carry 20% more oxygen around the body and to the extremities. Therefore, the skin stays more oxygenated, nourished, hydrated, happy and healthy.
What About Our Hair and Nails?
The beauty plusses of silica don’t just stop at our skin - it’s beneficial for strong, healthy hair and nails, too.
It helps to strengthen fragile hair that’s prone to falling, which can be particularly evident during times of stress or illness as well as after surgery or if someone has a problem with their thyroid.
Our fingernails contain many minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, as well as silica. Soft, brittle nails could be a sign of a silica deficiency and could gain from a silica tablet top up.
Do Our Silica Levels Change With Age?
Children have abundant levels of silica in their small bodies - which is why they have such beautiful silky hair, soft skin and perfect nails.
Like our levels of skin plumping collagen and elastin, our levels of silica naturally decrease as we get older - so we’re literally losing the glue that holds us together as we age!
That’s why we think it’s important to top ourselves up…
What Foods Are a Source of Silica?
Silica is found naturally in plant-based foods including dark leafy greens, leeks, green beans, cucumbers, celery and asparagus. That said, the body does find it difficult to absorb silica from food, so tablets are recommended.
Do Silica Supplements Exist?
Yes! Our Silica tablets are a proprietary blend of our alkalising silica salt complex plus vitamins D3 and E, calcium, folic acid and magnesium to create the optimal internal conditions for skin health from the inside.
Silica Dust, Silicosis and the Dangers of Exposure to Respirable Crystalline Silica
We can't talk about silica without also discussing the health and safety aspect of silica dust in the workplace if you work in construction with sand and clay or materials such as bricks or you're routinely exposed to silica.
Silicosis is a type of lung disease caused by silica exposure. Crystalline silica particles form a deadly dust that if we breathe them in, can lead to symptoms including shortness of breath and a persistent cough.
If we're working with silica dust at work in stonemasonry, construction, demolition, mining or the manufacture of ceramics, pottery or glass, the chances are, we're being exposed to silica dust every day. Silica dust exposure can cause serious lung disease such as silicosis, caused when the fine dust gets deep into your lungs, causing inflammation of the lung tissue. These fine dust particles are known as respirable crystalline silica.
Deadly Dust Air Monitoring for Construction Workers
If we're exposed to respirable crystalline silica on a regular basis, our symptoms may take years or even decades to appear and could potentially lead to lung cancer or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD. So it's vital that health surveillance steps are taken to reduce exposure.
Air monitoring and dust suppression techniques to reduce the level of airborne silica or silica dust in the air will help. These include dampening the air with a fine mist to cause wet dust that's more difficult to inhale and less dangerous.
If you're in any doubt as to your safety and you'd like to reduce your exposure speak to your manager or HR department. It's a duty of care for employers and workers to reduce anything that's harmful to your health (or things that create a health hazard) as soon as possible.
Taking silica tablets will not lead to a disease called silicosis, lung cancer and other serious respiratory diseases.
The Benefits of Taking Silica Supplements
Collagen production naturally slows from around the age of 25 (we know, so young!). So we recommend that those with ‘normal’ skin types should start to supplement their silica levels from around their late 20s.
(Although it’s never too late to start.)
If you have a skin condition that may improve from a boost of silica, such as skin that’s prone to being stressed out, contrary, acne prone or prone to eczema or psoriasis, then you can use it preventatively at any age, even as a teenager.
Like any supplement, it can take up to 12 weeks before you start to notice a difference from taking Sönd silica tablets. This is in part due to the rate at which our skin cells regenerate.
But in time, you may notice that your complexion is visibly brighter, with a youthful glow. You may also notice that your skin feels firmer and more hydrated, with more bounce and elasticity and fewer enlarged pores and blemishes.
Let us know how you get on!
This article is not meant to treat or diagnose. Please visit your doctor for advice about any health concerns you may have.