It was on my quest for perfect skin that I came across silica and its benefits. Sönd, a relatively new anti-aging skincare range was developed around this intriguing key ingredient aimed at people with sensitive skin—a growing and relevant concern amongst people today. What’s interesting about the five-product capsule collection is that one works as a supplement. It was truly a palm-to-the-face moment when I discovered 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, with both offering supplements to boost the effects of their hard-working topicals.
According to Sönd’s website, “Silica is required to produce collagen and is a natural anti-inflammatory.” Two major contributors behind wrinkles are free radicals and depletion in collagen production as we age, while inflammation acts as another aging factor our bodies have to contend with (It’s not dubbed “inflammaging"—or the "chronic, low-grade inflammation that characterizes aging"— for nothing!). While that all sounds daunting, don't worry, we called on Isabel Sharkar, ND, a naturopathic doctor, to help us discover more about this youth-boosting supplement.
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 recognize 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 (it 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 may help 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.”
While it will take time to notice a difference—anywhere up to 12 weeks, Sharkar lists numerous impressive 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 percent 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.
Franceschi C, Garagnani P, Vitale G, Capri M, Salvioli S. Inflammaging and 'garb-aging'. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2017;28(3):199-212. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2016.09.005