Ahava Health

Hair Mineral Analysis

and Nutritional Balancing

Sheila Dobson

Nutrition Consultant

Silica – The Stealth Defender

Silica is an under-appreciated mineral in the world of natural health. In this article, the properties of silica are described and its functions in our bodies are discussed. Food sources and supplement options are provided for those who would like to increase silica intake in order to help with a great variety of health concerns from heart strength to bone health and even brain health and detoxification.

By Sheila Dobson, NC

Silica – An Underappreciated Mineral

Silica is an underappreciated mineral in world of natural healing. The nutritional benefits of zinc, magnesium, chromium, and other minerals people commonly supplement are well appreciated. But silica? Many might think it is not even an essential mineral but in fact it is rather important as you will see, and not only that, I think it could play an important role in defense against toxins and pathogens.

Silica, when used to augment health, is often thought of only in its relation to beauty. Women may take silica to improve the appearance and strength of their hair, nails and skin. Because of silica’s role in connective tissue it can improve all of these. But there is much more to this mineral.

What is Silica?

Silica as found in nature is a mineral, most often in the form of Si02 – silicon dioxide. Silicon and oxygen are two elements that are the most abundant on the surface of our earth, making up more than 90% of the composition of earth’s surface. Silicon dioxide is the form of silica found in sand and many minerals such as quartz. Glass, the sand on the beach, and rocks such as granite are primarily made of silica.

Amethyst and citrine are examples of silicate minerals that are valued for their beauty. They are colored due to the inclusion of other elements in the crystal structure.

Silica Is Important in Health Because of Its Unique Characteristics

To understand why silica is important for the health of our bodies, consider the unique characteristics of this mineral. First of all, a fairly obvious characteristic is its strength and hardness. Silica minerals are hard enough to provide much strength to the structures made with them – for example cement, sand, glass and bricks.

Silica also is frequently transparent or semitransparent, so the mineral can form very hard, yet transparent materials.

In addition to strength and transparency, silica is relatively lightweight compared to other materials with similar strength and hardness.

One of the most unique characteristics of silica as quartz is its piezoelectricity – meaning that it develops an electrical charge (in other words, electricity) when under pressure or stress. This happens because the material becomes “electrically polarized” when under pressure. So, essentially this means that when you squeeze these materials they generate electricity! The process works in reverse as well. This property is used in electronics manufacture but also in a great number of other applications, for example in headphones, speakers and microphones, piezoelectric materials such as quarts transform electrical energy into vibrations or vice versa.

Finally, and this is important insofar as silica’s role in living organisms, silicate minerals can incorporate water into their structures. Opal is a well- known example of hydrated silica. Hydrated silica as orthosilicic acid is what is found in our bodies’ connective tissues such as our joints. We absorb this compound from plants which use silica in their cellular structures.

Silica in the Human Body

Silica is found in all connective tissues in the bodies of humans and other animals. In fact there is so much silicon in the human body that it is the third most abundant trace element in the body after iron and zinc. This should certainly make us wonder if we might not need to supplement silica at times.

Silica is a component not only of connective tissues such as the joints, bones and tendons, but also the aorta and kidneys.

In addition, it is a component of any gland or organ which contains connective tissue. The more connective tissue, the higher the silica content. Thus, the thyroid would have a high silica content since it is made up largely of connective tissue.

Silica is needed in order for our bodies to process calcium and incorporate it into bones and teeth.

For all these reasons, silica intake is important for nutritional therapy. It can help in most forms of arthritis as well as osteopenia or osteoporosis. It is also indicated for arteriosclerosis, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. But its role goes even beyond these functions.

Silica in the Immune System and Brain

Silica is also needed for the health of our lymphatic system, and even our brains. It helps our lymphatic system function properly by helping form the delicate networks of tissues that make up the substance of the spleen and lymphatic system.

And in the brain, silica helps form neural networks that relay messages from one part of the brain to another, thus protecting us, ultimately, from diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Perhaps this function relates to the piezoelectric characteristics of silica as quartz since the brain is a highly electrical organ.

Silica also plays a role in protecting our bodies and brains from aluminum, which is a research-confirmed culprit in Alzheimer’s disease. This is in fact one of the more common uses for silica supplementation in modern nutritional therapy — silica supplements are given to help the body detoxify from aluminum in order to help prevent brain disorders.

Silica in Plants

Plants use silica as an important component of their epidermal cells. The silica content of the plant’s cells help strengthen the cell wall and help increase the plant’s resistance to drought and frost. It also helps give the plant increased resistance to fungal diseases and attacks by pests.

Silica in Foods

Silica should be abundant in the food supply since it is required in quantity by plants. However, it is clear that many individuals do suffer from some degree of deficiency of the element, since, when they supplement the mineral, they see many improvements in health. Likewise, gardeners and farmers find that crop health improves when they utilize silica supplements in their soil. It is therefore possible that due to modern agricultural practices, silica is not as abundant in our plant foods as it should be, just like many other minerals.

Foods that have high silica content are: most grains such as oats, millet, barley and brown rice, the herbs horsetail and nettles as well as goldenseal, Echinacea, ginger and gotu kola, many nuts such as brazil nuts, pistachios, cashews, almonds, filberts, vegetables such as rapini, cucumber, spinach, lettuce, pineapple and radish. Black beans (and presumably other beans) are also a source.

Silica as a Stealth Defense Mineral

If silica helps plants to protect themselves from fungal disease, then it is possible it functions in our bodies in a similar fashion.

And if silica helps our brains function properly by helping to form neural networks that allow messages to travel from one area of the brain to another, then it is certainly a critical mineral for not only immunity but also mental and emotional health. As one author points out, the brain is one of the two major adaptive systems of the body; the other being the immune system; and when the body is under extra stress or is responding to infection, these two systems talk to each other in order to coordinate their response to the stress or infection.

I hypothesize that silica helps our cells to protect themselves from invasion by pathogens of a variety of sorts.

While I can’t prove it, I can say that when a mineral has a particular role, biologically, in one species, very often this carries over into other species. So I am tentatively giving silica the nickname “the stealth defender” – based on my belief that it has a role in defending us from fungal and other pathogens. I believe it does this in several ways; first, through strengthening cell membranes and connective tissues where pathogens may reside (think, rheumatoid arthritis); second through its role in providing structure to the lymphatic system and finally through its role in the brain and the brain’s interactions with the immune system.

When you realize the great extent of harm done by pathogens to our health – causing conditions ranging from diabetes and heart disease to dementia and hypothyroidism, you’ll recognize the great potential for boosting health and combating disease that silica may well have.

Dietary Sources and Supplementing Silica

If you think you will benefit from higher silica intake you have a few options.

First, you may choose to simply add more silica rich foods to your diet, for example, grains are a good source if they are unrefined. Many people cannot eat grains in any quantity, however, and some cannot eat them at all. In this case an option is certain nuts like pistachios, cashews and almonds. However, sometimes this is not realistic either – nuts can be a problematic food for many people. In that case, the options are foods like rapini, cucumbers, asparagus, most root vegetables, radishes, lettuce and spinach. Virtually all vegetables will contain some silica though some sources are richer than others. Finally there are herbs that are rich in silica such as nettles, horsetail, bamboo, goldenseal, Echinacea, ginger and gotu kola.

Another option would be a simple silica solution such as that offered by Eidon minerals.

Some people use a food-grade diatomaceous earth supplement to provide plentiful amounts of silica. Diatomaceous earth is a product made from microscopic ocean dwelling organisms whose bodies secrete silica as a sort of exoskeleton. In its ordinary non-food-grade form this product is used as an insecticide since the sharp edges of the silica fragments can poke holes into the bodies of insects and other small organisms. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is sometimes used to address parasite infection for the same reason. There are people who, through the use of this type of supplement, claim to have been able to avert surgeries to replace joints such as the knee, as the additional silica in the diet allowed the body to repair connective tissue.

One company, Hakala labs, an online testing and supplement company specializing in thyroid health, offers a silica supplement that is made from purified food-grade diatomaceous earth. It is offered in two relatively high potency options.

Appropriate amounts for supplementation range from as little as 5 mg per day up to 150 mg per day, or even more. Since silica is a more or less “nontoxic” and relatively non-reactive substance, this range should be safe for short term (several months) use.

Diet studies have shown that most men and women in modern times consume around 20 mg of silica in the diet on a day to day basis. Men consume a little more than women. Beer happens to be a good source.


Silica is essential in our bodies but not often thought of in nutritional therapy for health concerns.

Silica is potentially a helpful nutrient wherever connective tissue health needs to be improved, such as arthritis, bone building, problems with joints and ligaments, teeth and gums, etc. It is also important for the health of the arteries, providing elasticity and strength, and it has a role to play in the health of the thyroid, spleen, kidney, heart and lymphatic system, and even the brain. It helps in the utilization of calcium and the maintenance of good cell membrane health.

Silica may be much more important in immunity than previously realized due to the role that it is known to have in helping protect plants from fungal infection. Because of this and its other roles it may be far more important in our health overall than previously realized.

Silica can be obtained from foods such as grains, and many vegetables, but it may be necessary to add a supplement for some people who are addressing health concerns. Teas from certain herbs or tablets or capsules of extracts can be used to supplement silica. There are also supplements made from diatomaceous earth or orthosilicic acid, the exact form which is found in the human body. Appropriate amounts for supplementation range from 5 mg to 150 mg per day.


Abraham, G. The importance of bioactive silicates in human health. The Original Internist. Spring 2005.

Brillin, A. What is silica, where is it found… www.sondskin.co.uk Feb 2024.

Sorrell, C. Minerals of the world: A field guide and introduction to the geology and chemistry of minerals. Golden Press. 1973