Martin, K. R.
March 2007
Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging;Mar/Apr2007, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p94
Academic Journal
There is considerable interest in the effects of silica on human health in contrast to prior research which focused solely on the toxic effects of inhaled crystalline silica. However, multiple forms of silica exist in nature and silicon, a component, is the second most prevalent element after oxygen. Silica has widespread industrial applications including use as a food additive, i.e., anti-caking agent, as a means to clarify beverages, control viscosity, as an anti-foaming agent, dough modifier, and as an excipient in drugs and vitamins. Chemically, silica is an oxide of silicon, viz., silicon dioxide, and is generally colorless to white and insoluble in water. When associated with metals or minerals the family of silicates is formed. There are several water soluble forms of silica referred collectively to as silicic acid (ortho, meta, di, and tri-silicates), which are present in surface and well water in the range of 1 - 100 mg/L. Orthosilicic acid is the form predominantly absorbed by humans and is found in numerous tissues including bone, tendons, aorta, liver and kidney. Compelling data suggest that silica is essential for health although no RDI has been established. However, deficiency induces deformities in skull and peripheral bones, poorly formed joints, reduced contents of cartilage, collagen, and disruption of mineral balance in the femur and vertebrae. Very little toxicity data exist regarding aqueous silica consumption due, in part, to the lack of anecdotal reports of toxicity and general presumption of safety. However, a few rodent studies have been conducted, which indicate a No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) of 50,000 ppm (mg/L) for dietary silica. In conclusion, many forms of silica exist in nature and compelling data support myriad beneficial effects of silica in water.


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