Blood & Laboratory Values

Silicon – Function & Diseases

silicon

Silicon is chemical element. It has atomic number 14 and symbol Si. For humans, silicon is particularly important in bound and silicate form.

What is silicon?

Silicon is a trace element . This means that the substance is vital for the body, but is only found in small amounts in the body itself.

Silicon is required, among other things, as a protein building block. If the body receives too little silicon, a silicon deficiency occurs. In the case of an excessive intake of dietary supplements , there is a risk of excess silicon.

Function, effect & tasks

Organic silicon takes on many tasks in the body and is involved in many processes. Probably the most well-known property of silicon relates to its function as a shaper. It gives structure to connective tissue , skin , tendons and ligaments and ensures elastic stability. 

The trace element accelerates the formation of elastin and collagen . Elastin and collagen are special connective tissue fibers. Elastin keeps connective tissue elastic, while collagen provides strength. However, the connective tissue not only has a supporting and holding function for the internal organs and the external body structures. It is also used for nutrient supply. Only firm and elastic connective tissue can guarantee an adequate supply of nutrients to all surrounding cells . If the connective tissue is damaged, cell toxins cannot be properly disposed of.

Silicon also has the ability to bind large amounts of water. Silicon can bind 300 times its own weight in water. Thus, it also has a function in regulating the water balance. A balanced water balance is the prerequisite for numerous metabolic processes. The water-binding capacity of the trace element also plays an important role in the elasticity of the connective tissue, the skin, the cartilage , the tendons and ligaments. Silicon is also capable of producing collagen fibers in the bonesto increase. Collagen plays an important role in bone stability. Elastin production is also increased by silicon. This not only gives the bone stability, but also a certain degree of elasticity. If the bone were only stable and not also slightly flexible, it would break very quickly.

However, silicon is not only a component of bones and connective tissue, but also part of the blood vessels. Here, too, the trace element ensures flexibility and elasticity in the vessels and thus prevents diseases of the cardiovascular system .

Silicon is also needed to stimulate the immune system . It activates the production of lymphocytes and scavenger cells and thus helps the body fight microorganisms such as bacteria , viruses or fungi .

Formation, Occurrence, Properties & Optimal Values

Silicon cannot be formed by the body and must be supplied through food. The daily silicon requirement for an adult is around five to eleven milligrams of silicon. Plants absorb inorganic silicon from the soil and convert it so that it can be used by the human body.

However, the silicon molecules contained in the plants can only be absorbed by the body to a certain extent. The rest is excreted in stool and urine. Due to the industrial processing of food and intensive agriculture, the silicon content in food is falling more and more. Good sources of silicon are oats, barley, potatoes and millet. Silicon is also contained in many types of fruit and berries. Plants such as nettle, horsetail and horsetail are particularly rich in silicon.

Diseases & Disorders

If the intake is too low, a silicon deficiency occurs. A lack of silicon can lead to growth disorders. Some skin diseases with chronic eczema and chronic itching also appear to arise in connection with silicon deficiency or to deteriorate under silicon deficiency.

 

Common symptoms of a deficiency are brittle nails and hair loss . Dry and brittle hair or hair that breaks easily is also an indication of a deficiency. In the case of severe deficiencies, the blood vessels and bones can also be affected. The lack of collagen can lead to osteoporosis or atherosclerosis .

However, excess silicon can also cause damage. However, an oversupply of the trace element can usually only be caused by taking dietary supplements. The result of excess silicon is hemolysis of the red blood cells. During hemolysis, the blood cells break down. Anemia occurs . This manifests itself in symptoms such as shortness of breath , weakness , rapid fatigue , nausea , fainting , tinnitus , hair loss , split ends, tachycardia , cardiac arrhythmias and paleness .

Kidney stones and urinary stones can also occur with long-term and excessive intake . Pregnant women should never take silicon in the form of a dietary supplement. It is not yet known whether and what effects the trace element has in high doses on the unborn child. Silicon becomes dangerous when it occurs in higher concentrations in the air. The substance then enters the lungs via the respiratory tract and accumulates in the alveoli .

This is then also referred to as dust lung or, in medical jargon, as silicosis. Silicosis is a typical occupational disease of miners. Characteristic symptoms of pneumoconiosis are dry cough , dry cough and shortness of breath . However, the first symptoms usually do not appear until ten to twenty years after exposure. As the disease progresses, lung capacity deteriorates. The disease is always fatal.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.