Question of the Week
Q: I read somewhere that some women need silicon supplements. Isn''t that the junk they used to put in breast implants? If so, why would anyone recommend taking it?
A: Silicon is the most abundant element on earth, usually found in the form of silica (silicon dioxide).
Silicone, on the other hand, is defined in my medical dictionary as "an organic compound in which all or part of the carbon has been replaced by silicon." Silicone is found in many products, including bathtub caulking and industrial adhesives; until recently, it was the most common filling for breast implants.
So while there''s silicon in silicone, and the spellings are very similar, they are two very different things!
Why would anyone recommend taking silicon (silica) supplements? We''re only beginning to understand silica''s role in the human body, but it appears to be an essential component of certain strong tissues, including the bones, teeth, hair, and tendons. Research indicates that silica supplementation strengthens the collagen strands that account for most of our bone mass, and increases the rate at which strengthening minerals are incorporated into bone.
There''s no RDA yet for silica, and the exact silica content of many foods is unknown. However, silica appears to be abundant in the fiber portion of plants — which is often removed during processing.
Based on the available data, I personally recommend 20-50 mg of supplemental silica each day for men or women who suffer from osteopenia (low bone density) or osteoporosis (bone mass 25 percent or more below normal). Of course, this should be part of a complete program to build better bone. I consider silica supplementation prudent, but not essential, for other women and men in mid-life and beyond — which is when we tend to start losing bone.
It''s never too late to build better quality bone…if you know what''s REALLY needed! For the big picture on having strong, fracture-resistant bones, visit http://www.drlark.com/pages/bone.php. It''s never too early or too late to rebuild bone.
Dr. Lark invites you to ask the next question of the week
I''d love to get your health question. My staff and I will be choosing one to answer each week from those you send us. Some questions will spark new sections of content on the Web site, some I''ll answer in our free e-letter (sign up here), some we''ll answer in the Lark Letter, our print newsletter (subscribe here). Please keep your question to less than 50 words. Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.