My patients are always asking me, “Dr. Brachfeld, what can I do to make my skin look younger?” You may be wondering the same thing – especially if you’re over age 40 and starting to see telltale lines around your eyes, corners of your mouth, dull, rough looking skin and a lack of firmness that you used to have. Well, that’s what I’d like to talk to you about – a little known ingredient that can help restore youthful resiliency and glow – silica.
Silica, Your Health and Your Skin
Silica is not a new cosmetic wonder – it’s been around for eons. It is the second most abundant element on our planet, present in sand and in many of the plant foods you may already be eating. It is a crucial mineral to the preservation of your overall health and aids in the following:
- Helps preserve tissues throughout your body by helping to form collagen – the “glue” that holds you together, basically. It helps your skin heal wounds, keep skin thicker, smoother, and more elastic.
- Helps strengthen hair and nails and prevent dryness and breakage.
- Helps preserve/increase bone density thereby helping prevent osteoporosis. Calcium is not absorbed properly in the bones without silica.
- Counteracts excess aluminum in the body and helps clear it from brain tissues thus helping prevent Alzheimer disease.
- Supports joints by helping form glucosamine, a protein-like substance.
- Fortifies blood vessels and lung structures.
- Helps decrease inflammation in joints, bowel, and middle ear.
And much, much more. . .
As you get older, your supply of silica diminishes from either poor diet and/or the aging process itself. As a result, you can become deficient in it and your tissues become unable to hold onto moisture like they used to. As a result your skin loses its buoyancy and elasticity, it starts to sag and develop fissures that we see on the surface as wrinkles and lines. This is why most younger than age 40 people have much tighter, plumper looking skin – because their silica stores are still intact and moisture holding capacity has not yet depleted.
Your hair and nails can also suffer as you get older as they both contain a high percentage of silica. Lack of silica results in dryness and brittleness of both hair and nails as, like your skin, they are no longer able to retain moisture like they used to. As a result, your hair starts to lose its shine and strength, your nails can peel and crack and develop vertical lines and horizontal fissures in them, and just don’t grow very well. All three – skin, hair and nails – can start looking dull, rough, unhealthy and make you look much older than necessary.
How Can You Boost Silica for Skin (and overall) Health?
There are many foods that you may already be eating that contain silica. However, you may not be eating enough of them to counter the decrease with aging. You should aim for a dietary intake of silica between 20-50 mg a day. This can be accomplished in a few, 4 ounce servings of some of the following foods every day:
- Garbanzo beans, leeks, green beans, asparagus, cucumber, celery, carrots
- Strawberries, mango, rhubarb, banana, raisins
- Whole grains, bran cereal, brown rice
There are also liquid silica supplements that you can take to ensure that you are getting enough silica in your diet. Generally, about 1 tablespoon, or capful, per day is adequate – depending on the amount of milligrams of silica in each serving (see the manufacturer’s label). Caution: Do not over-supplement silica thinking that more will help you look younger, faster.
Remember, silica is a mineral and helps absorb other minerals. Like all minerals, you do not want to cause an imbalance between them, or over-absorption of other minerals – like iron or copper – which could result in health problems. If you are already eating some silica rich foods, a small amount of silica supplementation, such as listed below, can be useful.
For adults 19-50 years, 9-14 mg of silica per day is recommended. If you are older than age 50 do not take more than 20 mg of silica daily. Safety levels for silica have not been established over 50-mg. Replacing depleted silica to a normal, healthy level is your goal.
As always, good skin care will go a long way in helping preserve the beauty, health and youthful appearance of your skin (hair and nails). A good exfoliating facial scrub (my patients like St. Ives apricot scrub) helps remove dulling, dead surface skin cells. In addition, Omega-3 fats, 1-2 grams per day; alpha-lipoic acid 100 mg; vitamin E 400 mg; vitamin C 1-2 grams; Co-Q10 100 mg; L-glutamine 100 mg can help your skin; water – at least eight, 8 ounce glasses a day can flush toxins from your body that dull skin; sleep – 6-8 hours a night; exercise 30 minutes a day, at least an hour of sunlight and fresh oxygen every day. In about 4 weeks, your skin (hair and nails) should start looking younger and healthier!
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Natural Health News
The Many Benefits of Silica Supplementation, http://www.jashbotanicals.com/articles/silica_and_your_body.html
The top 5 nutrients for healthy skin, http://www.naturalnews.com/021773_healthy_skin_care_products.html
Is Silica Toxic in Large Amounts? http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/nutrition-questions/Lesa-Rusher1/is-silica-toxic-in-high-doses.html
photo credit: mauritiusdirectory.com