Mineral Spotlight: Silica


Mineral Spotlight: Silica

Silica is one of 14 beneficial dissolved minerals found in Iron Mountain Hot Springs.

Silica, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), is a compound of silicon and oxygen found in Iron Mountain Hot Springs; it’s one of the most common elements on Earth. It composes more than half of the earth’s crust, most commonly in quartz and sand. It’s used in building and road construction, grinding and polishing processes, foundry molds, food additives, toothpaste, optic fibers and fillers in drugs and vitamins. Some silica is valued as gemstones, and it is a source of the silicon used in computer chips. That little gel pack you find in some products to keep them dry – warning you not to eat it – is silica.

Most of the silica in your body is water-soluble orthosilicic acid present in bones, tendons, aorta, liver and kidneys. The same compound occurs naturally in seawater, drinking water and beer. Your body will absorb a very small amount of silica and excrete what it doesn’t need. Lack of silica is associated with skull and bone deformities, poorly formed joints, lower levels of cartilage and collagen, and lack of mineral balance in the vertebrae. Silica is also considered beneficial for strengthening connective tissues and bones, keeping hair, nails, and skin healthy, accelerating the healing process, and fighting hardening of the arteries, skin disorders, insomnia, and tuberculosis

There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance of silica in the United States, although the European Food Safety authority suggest no more than 700 milligrams – far above the 20 to 50 milligrams that the average person consumes. In addition to beer, coffee and drinking water, good sources are alfalfa, beets, brown rice, oats, bell peppers, soybeans, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, parsley and sunflower seeds. An herb called horsetail is high in natural silica, and some silica-rich algae are used in the preparation of supplements.

Researchers confirmed in a 2011 study that microparticles of silica are capable of being absorbed by the skin. Your skin will enjoy the effects of soaking in silica-rich Iron Mountain Hot Springs mineral water.

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Gene Stowe

Gene Stowe was a reporter for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer for 13 years and head of the writing program at Trinity School at Greenlawn, a four-time U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School in South Bend, Ind., for 10 years before he became a full-time freelance writer in 2008. His first book, Inherit the Land: Jim Crow Meets Miss Maggie’s Will, was published in 2006. He lives in Monroe, N.C.