It was on my quest for perfect skin, that I came across silica and its benefits. Sönd, a relatively new anti-ageing range developed around the key ingredient, is aimed at people with sensitive skin (a growing concern). What’s interesting about the capsule collection of five products is that one is a supplement. It was a palm-to-the-face moment on discovering this. Why aren’t more skincare brands marrying this inside-out and outside-in approach? Sarah Chapman and Neal’s Yard are well ahead of the game, as both offer supplements to boost the effects of their topicals.
According to Sönd’s website, “silica is required to produce collagen and is a natural anti-inflammatory.” Damage to our collagen by free radicals and also depletion in production as we age is a major contributor to wrinkles, while inflammation is another ageing factor our bodies have to contend with. (It’s not dubbed “inflammaging” for nothing.) We called on Isabel Sharkar, ND, a naturopathic doctor, to help us discover more about this youth-boosting supplement.
Meet Our Expert
Isabel Sharkar, NMD, is a naturopathic doctor and co-founder of the Indigo Integrative Health Clinic in Washington, D.C. Now back at her private practice, Sharkar works to combine ancient practices with western technique and is a member of organizations such as the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP).
Keep scrolling to find out why you should be taking it.
You may remember silicon (Si) from your school days—it sits in the periodic table between aluminum and phosphorous. (Did you actually remember? Me neither; I had to google it.) When the two elements silicon and oxygen combine they form silica (SiO2), which is also known as the quartz crystal. Surprisingly, you may well recognise silica from those little white moisture-absorbing sachets you find in new handbags and shoe boxes. “Silica is the third most abundant trace element in the human body after iron and zinc,” explains Sharkar.
Of course, we’ve all heard of zinc (which bolsters the immune system and helps repair our wounds) and iron (which helps keep our blood healthy). But what’s the deal with this lesser-known silica? “It has such a tremendous impact on skin regeneration—silica is strongly linked with healthy youthful skin,” says Sharkar. “It also creates bonds between protein molecules, which are responsible for the skin’s natural ability to retain water, critical for repair and cell renewal.”
She continues, “It is required for rebuilding collagen; it sits inside collagen, acting as glue, providing strength, flexibility and resilience to connective tissues.” This glue-like function means silica is imperative for helping to keep your nails, teeth and hair robust and healthy. It is a natural anti-inflammatory that helps relieve skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. This wonder mineral also works to keep other minerals in balance, such as calcium and magnesium, which plays an important role in keeping our hormones balanced too.
In fact, Sharkar goes as far as to say, “It is the glue that holds us together, without silica we literally would break apart.”
So if our bodies are producing the stuff, why should we be supplementing it? The fact is that, just like how collagen production slows from around the age of 25, silica does too. (Coincidence? We think not.) “Anyone in their late 20s, early 30s should look to start taking silica. You can use it when you see fine lines or even better, preventatively.”
You can also bolster your intake of silica through your diet by including plenty of dark leafy greens, leeks, green beans, cucumber, celery and asparagus. But the only way to get enough of the mineral is to supplement. “If you are taking silica in capsule form, 180 to 360 milligrammes per day is a good dosage to start with,” says Sharkar.
Silica supplements can be derived from bamboo or the horsetail plant. “Horsetail may not be for everyone, and it may have contraindications in diabetes and pregnancy,” she warns. “Silicon dioxide, on the other hand, is generally safe. When in doubt, I would consult your holistic healthcare provider before starting any supplement regime. Silica is contraindicated in people with kidney or heart disease as well as fluid retention.”
It will take time to notice a difference (anywhere up to 12 weeks). Sharkar lists out numerous seriously good benefits you should start to notice including a brighter complexion and youthful glow, firmer skin with more elasticity (or “bounce”) as well as generally more hydrated skin. It also helps to reduce facial pores, blemishes and wrinkles.
“Silica gives you a glow because it is a strong carrier of oxygen, and it increases the transport of both nutrients and oxygen to the skin,” she explains. “It helps red blood cells to carry 20% more oxygen, and because of that, the skin stays more hydrated as well. Look for your skin to start glowing, and your acne, eczema or psoriasis to start disappearing. These would be sure signs that it’s working.”
When shopping for a silica supplement, you want to make sure it doesn’t contain any unnecessary or unhealthy additives and fillers. And remember, when it comes to supplements, you get what you pay for. I’ve started taking Sönd and I’ll keep you posted on my skin’s progress right here in the coming weeks.
Have you ever taken silica supplements? We’d love to hear your views in the comment box below.
Next up, we reveal how to get rid of cellulite.
Opening Image: Mango