Silicon Dioxide Uses and Food Sources

Silicon dioxide is a trace mineral found naturally in many plant foods and is added to many multivitamin supplements. It is necessary for healthy bones, skin, hair and nails. Silicon dioxide is often added to processed foods to keep them fresh and appetizing. You can find the important mineral in foods sources.

Foods High in Silicon Dioxide

RDI (Recommended daily intake)

As a trace mineral, only a small amount of silicon dioxide is needed daily. Many nutritionists believe the human body requires about 5-10 mg of this mineral each day.

Since the recommended daily allowance of silicon dioxide is relatively low, it is easy to get the correct amount if you eat a well-balanced diet. Foods to include in your diet are:

1. Fruits

Not often mentioned in nutrition literature is the fact that many fruits are naturally high in silicon dioxide. The fruits highest in the mineral include raisins, grapes, oranges, apples, cherries and plums.

2. Vegetables

There are several vegetables that can provide some of the recommended daily allowance of silicon dioxide. Vegetables with silicon dioxide include artichokes, beans, peas, asparagus, beet, greens of all kinds, celery, cucumbers, lettuce, radishes and onions.

3. Nuts

In addition to the other nutrients in nuts, almonds and peanuts contain moderately high amounts of silicon dioxide.

4. Sunflower seeds

Also known for high nutritional value, roasted sunflower seeds also contain a healthy amount of silicon dioxide.

5. Pumpkin seeds

Roasted pumpkin seeds have a moderate amount of silicon dioxide so make a simple but healthy snack.

6. Whole grains

Rice, oats and whole grain breads are high in silicon dioxide. Eating whole grains is an easy way to fill the daily requirement for this trace mineral.

7. Water

Normal drinking water is a possible source of silicon dioxide. Hard water has higher levels of the mineral than soft water.

8. Beverages

Coffee, tea and other beverages made with water will contain some amount of silicon dioxide. Beer is an excellent source of the mineral in addition to being a tasty drink. The silicon dioxide in beer is in the form of orthosilicic acid, which is important for bone health and to prevent osteoporosis.

9. Herbs

Horsetail has the most amount of silicon dioxide of all the herbs. Parsley and garlic are two other herbs that provide a relatively high amount of the mineral. Horsetail is believed to be highest in silicon dioxide. You can find extracted horsetail powder from pharmaceutical companies.

Silicon Dioxide in Supplements

1. A food additive

Silicon dioxide is added to powdered foods and other health food supplements to keep other ingredients from binding together. For example, manufacturers add silicon dioxide to salt and many spices to keep those dry substances from clumping.

2. Health benefits

Silicon dioxide is critical for the development of strong nail, bones, teeth and hair. Research indicates that a lack of this mineral may lead to arthritis, poor bone formation, unhealthy skin and poor tooth development. Silicon dioxide also counteracts the effects of aluminum in the body, which may help prevent Alzheimer's disease.

3. Health concerns

Because silicon dioxide is a crystal, it can be an eye irritant if direct exposure occurs. When eyes are exposed to this mineral, the result will be red and watery eyes. If skin is directly exposed to silicon dioxide, the skin may become irritated and itchy. If silicon dioxide is inhaled over time such as can happen with miners, lung damage and potentially lung cancer may result.

4. Food safety

When used in food, the proportion of silicon dioxide to food must be strictly controlled. The mineral should be no more than 2 percent of the total weight of the food. It is also critical that the particle size of silicon dioxide be within limits defined by the Food and Drug Administration.

Other Silicon Dioxide Uses

In addition to its use in food, there are also manufacturing uses for silicon dioxide. These include:

1. Electronics

Silicon dioxide has an extremely high melting point so is useful in electronics where high heat is produced. The mineral is essential for manufacturing fiber optic cables, semi-conductors, and insulation for wires.

2. Conversion of energy

Silicon dioxide has piezoelectric properties. These properties allow the mineral to convert one form of energy to another. For example, silicon dioxide allows mechanical energy to be converted to electrical energy. This conversion of energy enables television and radio stations to transmit signals.

3. Glass

Silica is one of the primary components of glass. Mixed with soda and boron oxide, silicon dioxide creates glass that is highly heat resistant. Thus, in addition to other glass products, silicon dioxide is critical in the creation of heat resistant cooking utensils.

4. Cement

Silicon dioxide is critical in the production of cement. Cement is added to other ingredients to make concrete -- the building block of much of the world's infrastructure.

5. Refractory materials

Finally, silicon dioxide is critical for production of refractory materials. These materials used in building and other areas are highly shock resistant.

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