By Terry Lemerond
Bones, Joints, Muscles & Tendons
The Secret for Strong Bones
Most people are familiar with the “French Paradox.” Despite the rich foods and wine enjoyed by the people of France, they have excellent cardiovascular health and slim waistlines. The French have another secret – a way to prevent osteoporosis and weak bones. It’s not calcium or prescription drugs - it’s silica.
Silica is an amazing, unsung hero. It helps provide the structure of our bodies and helps other minerals absorb properly, keeping the bone-building process running smoothly – bringing more calcium into the bones, and allowing less calcium to leach away from the bones.
French research is far ahead of us on this. Silica is one of the most popular bone-building supplements in Europe. In fact, silica is THE bone-building supplement in France and has been shown to improve calcium absorption into the bones by 50%!
This critical trace mineral, and choosing the right supplemental form, is the subject of this Terry Talks Nutrition®.
Weak Bones – Drugs Don’t Help
Anyone dealing with osteoporosis, or just trying to get ahead of it, needs to be very cautious about the approach they take to building strong bones. Those highly-advertised prescription drugs don’t work. In fact, they’ve been shown to make the problem much worse, especially the “one pill per month” bisphosphonate drugs. That’s because they work on a flawed idea of bone building.
Normally, specialized cells called “osteoblasts” add fresh minerals (primarily calcium, but others, too) to bone and “osteoclasts” remove older bone tissue by breaking down the minerals and reabsorbing them into the bloodstream. The two processes are crucial for health and intricately interlinked.
Bisphosphonates stop the process of osteoclasts from breaking down minerals. That, in turn, stops the signal for new minerals to come into the bone. So you could say that initially they stop calcium and other minerals from leaving the bones. The problem is, they also completely stop the signal that alerts the body to rebuild bone.
The result? Brittle bones that aren’t being refreshed with the fresh minerals they need. That’s why people taking these drugs may wind up with fractures in the femur – normally one of the strongest bones in the body.
Our bodies need to have the full, natural process – bones being built with new minerals while old minerals are reabsorbed into the bloodstream. We need to build more and lose less.
What About Dietary Sources of Silica?
There are dietary sources of silica, but they don’t yield much, and I wouldn’t rely on them for building strong bones. You need at least 10 to 25 mg of silica daily just to prevent a deficiency. You need about 30 to 40 mg to actually build healthy bones.
But most food sources aren’t going to get you close to that. That’s because the absorption from those sources is very limited, due to silica’s insoluble form and the way it is bound to fiber.
For example, bananas contain a significant amount of silica, but less than 2% of it is actually absorbed. In fact, eating even 50 bananas provides only about 8 mg of absorbed silica.
Plus, many of the best food sources of silica come from unrefined food, which is in short supply in the typical diet. After all, silica is mostly found in the fiber portions of grains, and the skins of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, most of that gets milled or peeled away before the food is consumed.
The truth is, researchers have known about the importance of silica for some time now. Scientific tests have shown that when chickens were given silica-deficient diets, their bone structure became weak and deformed. On the other hand, when they are provided with silica-rich diets, their bones mineralize at a much faster rate.
Organic Silica from Horsetail
So it’s obvious from the lack of good food sources that you’re going to need a supplemental source of silica. But not every source is the same.
I recommend organic (meaning “living”) silica obtained from the above-ground parts of the spring horsetail (Equisetum arvense) plant. When silica in the plant is extracted still attached to the plant bioflavonoids - without the harsh, abrasive, insoluble and unnecessary substances also found in horsetail, absorption and effectiveness in the body are improved significantly.
Blending the silica with marine oil also enhances absorption, beneficial effects, and cell membrane penetration of the active compounds. Organic silica also has positive effects on the formation of collagen, which is a major component of living bone tissue. That’s why silica is so valuable for stabilizing osteoporosis and osteopenia, and helping with other bone health issues as well.
Case Studies – Silica Shows Real World Results!
There have been some amazing case studies with silica.
In one, a 72-year-old woman was suffering from knee pain for over a year. A blood test showed that her calcium levels were below normal, and that she had elevated phosphate levels, which indicate bone-reabsorbing osteoclast activity. In other words, her bones were breaking down faster than they could be built up.
Although she had been taking calcium and pain-relievers, her symptoms didn’t improve. Her doctor recommended silica. After one month, she could walk for 1 kilometer. After two months, she could walk without stopping for a break and her pain was gone!
Her doctor attributed this to the way that silica, along with natural trace minerals, absorbs into the cartilage and bone tissue, making them stronger.
Other case studies of women with decreasing bone density showed great results, too. In one, a 56-year-old woman used silica for six months. By the end of the treatment, the measurements of her lumbar spine and neck of the femur showed an increase of 12.3%. In another, a 64-year-old woman also used silica for six months and showed an increase of lumbar spine and femur density of 6.3%.
And, in yet another case study, a man had shoulder pain so severe it made dressing difficult. He had been taking pain relievers, but had to stop – they caused terrible stomach upset. His practitioner recommended silica, and just three months later, his range of motion returned and he enjoys daily walks again.
Strong Scientific and Clinical Results!
Aside from those great case studies, the best thing about silica is that it has excellent scientific and clinical studies to back it up. Research has found that silica increased the growth of collagen by over 50%, helping create a better structure for calcium in the bones.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 65 postmenopausal women were provided silica for 12 months to test its effects on bone mineralization. The study measured the biomarker CTX, which is associated with the process of bone reabsorption. The study showed lower CTX activity – a very positive thing. The silica allowed less bone breakdown, slowing the process, but not artificially stopping it, either.
Another study involved 150 individuals who were suffering from an array of bone pathologies, including fractures, osteoporosis, and other traumatic stresses to their bones. Others had trouble with what is known as “articular pathologies” – problems with mobility and joint articulation due to arthritis or other issues.
The results were astounding. For those with bone pathologies, there was a much faster bone building activity, but it was balanced, too, with no build-up of minerals. Additionally, in just 15 days, 80% of the participants noticed decreased pain. Those with articular pathologies noticed a significant difference after six weeks.
A study of patients receiving dental implants showed that silica helped heal the tissue of the jaw and gums and helped keep the jawbone matrix stable during the surgeries. There was also no reported pain, inflammation, or implant loss. The integration of the dental implants was considered “excellent”.
Beyond Bones – Silica for Collagen, Hair, and Skin
You also need silica for collagen – the material that literally holds us together. How does that work? Well, imagine building a brick wall. The calcium is the brick, but the collagen is the mortar that holds it together, and without silica, no collagen would be made.
Collagen – the main protein in the body – is clearly important for bones, but it also helps connect the body. And because silica helps build collagen, it does a lot more than strengthen bones and joints. It also reinforces the structure of hair and skin. In fact, some of the highest concentrations of silica are in the nails, hair, and skin.
That’s because silica ensures the connection between collagen and proteoglycans. Proteoglycans make links with collagen and are major components of the space between cells. They make collagen-rich structures more resilient and bind water for better hydration. You notice the results as firmer, less wrinkled skin, healthier nails, and stronger, lustrous hair.
Start Taking Silica Today!
When it comes to building healthy bones, you can’t start too early. Whether you’re 23 or 83, you should begin your silica regimen today. This amazing mineral will help you build bone density and build collagen to keep your hair, skin, nails, and joints healthy, too.