Silica, also called silicon, is a natural mineral present in a number of foods. According to the 2006 book "Staying Healthy With Nutrition," by Elson M. Haas, the advantages of this tiny mineral include improving bone density, skin texture and hair, nail, teeth and gum health. Haas also reports daily silica intake repairs some the effects of ageing and has been shown to reduce arterial fat deposits. Older persons hoping to improve the look of their skin and hair benefit greatly from foods and diets rich in silica.
Grains such as oats, barley, rice, millet and wheat are some food relatively high in silica. These grains often are used in cereal production, leading some to say that cereals are an easy way to increase silica intake. In fact, many of the silica attributes in these foods are lost during processing and refinement. To ingest silica through grains be sure to eat loose grain, whole grain or minimally processed cereals.
Diets rich in vegetables and low in meat also are higher in silica. While most vegetables contain trace amounts of silica, higher concentrations are found in dark, leafy greens such as alfalfa, lettuce and spinach. Avocado, cucumber and onion also contain silica as well as tuberous vegetables such as potatoes, beets and turnips. Fruits also are known to carry silica, including strawberries, apples and citrus fruit pectin.
Silica also can be found in what people drink. Red wine is high in silica, but should be enjoyed in moderation. Some people attribute red wine to the high amount of silica found in the Mediterranean diet. A study published in 2009 in "The American Journal of Epidemiology" from the Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale in Bordeaux, France, states that tap water from ground wells also is high in silica. The same study reports that elderly persons with a 10 mg intake of silica per day from groundwater had an 11 per cent decrease in the likelihood of developing dementia.
Taking supplements is a simple and reliable method to increase silica intake. In 2011, the "Holistic Health Encyclopedia" listed herbal horsetail supplements (Equisetum arvensa) as silica-rich derivatives of the original plant. As of 2011, simple silica supplements also were available at vitamin shops or chemists for about £6, depending on the brand. According to the article "How Silicon Might Be Helpful In Forming Healthy Bones" on Diet and Heath.net, a majority of Americans ingest about 20 to 50 mg of silica per day, but optimal intake is higher. The same article reports that people who take supplements of 40 mg daily show improvement in skin tone and elasticity.