Bamboo Silica: The inside out anti-aging mineral
Written by Dr. Jewel Alfoure, ND
Read the signs carefully!
Did you know that those weak nails and newly developed split ends may be the first signs that you are at risk of losing your bone density? (1) Some common signs of aging they call them, but really your skin, hair and nail condition is one of the best indicators of the richness of nutrients and building blocks in your body. Why you may ask? Well, hair, skin and nails are all bodily byproducts. By looking at their condition, you are likely to see how rich of a nutrient medium the body contains. When the skin, hair and nails are healthy, you can bet that there are enough building blocks and nutrients that even your body's byproducts are built with high-quality excess supplies (2).
So what does it mean when someone starts experiencing lower quality hair, skin and nails? Where is the problem?
Most of the time, the problem is either a supply problem, absorbability problem or utilization problem.
Supply problems are problems with providing the important nutrients that form the complex matrixes of tissues. These are nutrients like calcium, silicone, magnesium, potassium, boron and many other trace minerals. With all the deficiencies in our soil these days, it is very hard to maintain a diet balanced enough to provide a regular, well balance supply. Silica, for example, ranks as one of the hardest minerals to supply the body with (3).
An absorbability problem is related to issues with the gut. The gut must process and break down the food provided into small enough constituents to supply the nutrients in a readily absorbable form to the blood stream. Usually, inflammatory gut processes or digestive enzyme deficiencies, which are both very common with age, leave enough of a detrimental impact on the gut to slow down its absorption rate and efficiency (4).
Finally, a nutrient utilization problem is usually linked to hormonal conditions in which the body does not use the ingredients simply due it missing the "go build" signal. That is- a signal provided by hormones like thyroid hormone, female hormones, growth hormone and even testosterone. Nutrient utilization problems are usually related to the aging process. It must be highlighted that daily stress facilitates the aging process, resulting in the stressed individual exhibiting signs of hormonal depletion that may, very much, resemble the natural aging process (5).
Are you really aging, or are you facilitating pre-mature aging with stress?
Daily toxin exposure, unfortunately also expedites the aging process , being a stressor, it promotes the oxidation of the blueprint of the body and shortens the capping edges known as the telomeres on genetic materials. Such process results in more vital information being lost over-time. That means, more transcription/ translation errors as the body synthesizes new tissues. Structural abnormalities like sun spots, wrinkles, structural weakness and uneven formation are common signs of aging related those types of errors (6).
Are the nutrients really available in your food?
Preventing deficiencies that may result in structural building deficits must also be a multi-dimensional approach. It starts with providing the body with some of the hardest-to-obtain nutrients. Nutrients like silicon, for example are only found in very small amounts in some food and water. As the most abundant food sources of the silicon include beer and grains, you can imagine how hard it is for someone with dietary restrictions, like a gluten-free diet, to obtain healthy amounts of silicon. Silicon is not only rare, and comes from very few food sources , but even when available, it is very difficult to absorb (7,8).
Why Silicon? What makes it so important?
As a trace nutrient important to maintain the physical integrity of the body, and one where there is a significant increase of demand for as aging progresses, silicon is one of the many minerals with a profile that significantly declines as we age6. Roughly, there is a decline of 0.1 mg in silicon absorption for every year over the age of 60. Keeping in mind that about 10-40 mg of silicon must be replaced daily, one can easily see how difficult it is to keep silicon levels at an optimum in the body (7,8).
External Beauty as an indicator of internal beauty!
True beauty is defined as optimal functionality and physical integrity! While Silicon is a highly significant anti-aging mineral, we must not forget about the many other minerals that the body needs to build healthy, resilient structures. Silicon availability increases the absorption of minerals such as Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Boron3. Those minerals are important for maintaining blood health, bone strength and stimulating tissue repair. They also play an important role in preventing bone density loss leading to osteoporosis. Thus absorbable silicon increases the overall efficiency and functionality of the body! (2)
Further, healthy silicon levels aid in atherosclerosis prevention as it was found that silicon is up to 14X higher in the arteries of people without heart disease. Suddenly it makes sense to prevent those sun-spot- equivalents and wrinkle-equivalents from forming inside of critical body structures like vascular tissues (9).
True beauty or health?
While the internal anti-aging and health promoting effects of supplementing silicon are enough, it is also important to consider the beauty related benefits of the mineral. Keratin is the main structural protein that hair, nails and skin are made of (9). Due to its involvement in the structural component of keratin and its ability to build links between keratin cells, silica may be great for providing the necessary repair required for structurally disruptive conditions including, but not limited to eczema and psoriasis (10). As Silica is directly required for prolyl hydroxylase, which is an enzyme that helps with the formation of collagen, healthy silica levels are key for strengthening and maintaining connective tissues like tendons and ligaments (11).
What should I look for in a silicon supplement?
While using silicon in silica form is very beneficial, it is important to note that not all silica supplements are made equally. The element silicon can come in many different forms that are of no bio-availability or significance in the body. In fact, some silica compounds may enter and leave the body without providing the body with anything more than the extra work it would take to eliminate them. Thus, it is always better to obtain silicon from a silica rich natural source.
Why Bamboo Silica? When in doubt, ask Pandas!
Did you know that the giant panda bear is considered a "hypercarnivore". Due to the unique nutritional components provided by bamboo shoots, giant pandas have the advantage of a physical integrity similar to that of carnivores like wolves without resorting to eating other animals (12).
Serving as a highly sustainable source of nutrition, bamboo contains roughly 10x more silica than the most common other natural supplier of silica, horse tail. Making it a wonderful clean, vegan source of silica, strong enough to boost collagen production (13, 14).
Combined with a balanced dose of calcium citrate, when supplied at the same time, silica improves the absorbability of calcium making it more bioavailable and as building constituent 3. It also increases the safety profile of calcium as most calcification results from calcium that is not appropriately absorbed in calcium requiring tissues. Such nutrient imbalance was shown to be linked to vascular and joint calcification.
What should one look for in a healthy, functional Silica supplement?
Natural/ plant source- nothing elemental
Clean, sustainable source
Utilizes silica as a nutrient absorption booster by including other minerals
Contains no carbonates that can affect absorption