Silicon dioxide, also referred to as silica, is a nutrient that is present in vegetables, whole grains and seafood. It is used by the body to keep bones, cartilage, tendons and artery walls healthy. The average intake of silicon in adults is 14 mg to 21 mg per day. A recent study found that supplementing with silicon improved several markers that reflect bone and connective tissue breakdown. The study investigated the effect of a low dose of supplemental silicon on markers of bone breakdown and bone-mineral density in 774 women with osteopenia (mild bone loss) or osteoporosis over 12 months.

The study participants were divided into four groups. AII received 1,000 mg of calcium and 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D-3 (cholecalciferol) each day. Three of the groups also took supplements of 3 mg, 6 mg or 12 mg of a usable form of silicon, sold as BioSil (distributed by Jarrow Formulas and available at local and online vitamin retailers). Researchers found that the silicon supplement enhanced the benefits of the calcium and vitamin D supplementation. Although bone-mineral density of the spine did not change significantly, a subgroup of 81 women who took 5 mg of BioSil per day and whose thigh bone density score was lower than average at the start of the study showed significant thigh bone density improvements.

For people with low bone-mineral density and those at risk for osteoporosis—that is, people with a strong family history of osteoporosis, thin bones or a history of eating disorders as well as those who have used steroids (such as prednisone) for long periods or who smoke—I recommend a supplement of 6 mg to 12 mg of silicon daily in addition to calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, B vitamins and essential fatty acids, all of which support bone metabolism.

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