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After oxygen, silicon is the second most abundant element found in the earth's crust. It is a vital mineral in the body which is present either as the derivative of silanate or silicic acid. Silica, also termed as silicon dioxide (SiO2) is an oxidized form of silicon which is naturally found in the bones and the connective tissues of the body. Studies show that an average human body comprises seven grams of silica by weight and requires the maintenance of about 20 grams of silica to promote good, strong flexible joints and bones, glowing skin and healthy hair.

Silica is used all the time and needs to be replenished regularly in the same way as the other essential minerals in the body like calcium and iron. In fact, its deficiency in the body can lead to parched or wrinkled skin, brittle nails and bones, and dry and dull hair. Hence, to overcome these symptoms it is necessary to maintain its healthy levels in the body and for this it is essential to include those food items in our diet which are important sources of silica like apples, oranges, cereals, carrots, onions, cucumber, raw cabbage, peanuts, pumpkin, honey, fish, unrefined grains, oats and almonds. Hence, silica plays a major role in overall well-being of the human body, and so it is necessary for all of us to educate ourselves about its various benefits.

Benefits

Bone Health: One of the prime benefits is that it is important for growth and development of the skeletal system, as it assists calcium for the growth and maintenance of bones and joints. If facts are to be believed, silica is more important for osteoporosis than calcium as it aids in the organic phase of bone mineralization which increases the concentration of collagen (a protein component for bones) and induces flexibility in the bones and joints. It also prevents deformities in the bones and helps in speedy recovery or healing of bones, if there's a fraction or dislocation.

Hair and Nail Health: It improves hair health by helping hair grow thicker and stronger. It prevents alopecia or thinning of hair and hair loss, the common hair problems which occur due to deficiency of nutrients especially silica in the body. Hence, it encourages healthy and thick hair growth, and also increases the luster and shine of hair. Likewise silica also protects nails from getting brittle and improves their quality.

Skin Health: Silica is often used in various skin beauty products to treat skin disorders like sunburn, eczema, acne, aging and even insect bites. As with age its concentration in the body decreases which is also one of the major causes for aging, it is vital to maintain normal silica levels in the body to avoid aging signs like dry and wrinkled skin. It retards the process of aging as the mineral aids in enhancing the skin elasticity and retaining the moisture, which keeps the skin young and glowing.

Heart Health: Another benefit is that it prevents atherosclerosis, a heart disease caused by formation of hard plaque in the arteries which obstructs the blood flow. Silica works by maintaining the structural integrity, elasticity and permeability of the blood vessels, thereby improving blood circulation and strengthening the heart.

Other Benefits: Silica is also useful in treating Alzheimer's disease by reducing the aluminum accumulation in the brain lesions of patients. It enhances the immune system by promoting anti-inflammatory and anti-infection reactions, and protecting the body from tuberculosis and other diseases related to mucus membranes.

To conclude we can say that silica is an essential nutrient that stimulates cell metabolism and division required for healthy growth and development of skin, bones, nails and hair. Hence, incorporate this essential nutrient in your daily diet by increasing consumption of foods high in silica.