Silica is a mineral component of several foods we consume. It is best known for its joint and cartilage health benefits as well as for increasing bone strength and integrity. But another purpose for this naturally abundant mineral is its ability to strengthen and beautify the hair, skin and nails.
After all, most any nutrient that helps improve the health of your hair usually also contributes to healthy skin. Supplementing with silica can be very cost effective. However as with any other mineral or vitamin, it is still best to get most of it through your dietary choices. Related : Top Vitamins and Herbs for Strong, Healthy Hair
Best food sources of silica
Silica is a naturally occurring mineral found in several different types of food. Thankfully, you can find in both meat and non-meat foods so you can get it in your diet whether you’re a vegetarian or not.
Raw oats are one of the best grain sources of silica. The type that has been dried and is what we are now used to as “instant oatmeal” does not have the same levels of this nutrient that the raw version (slow cooked) has.
Related: Why our Deep Hydration Hair Conditioner (lots of reviews here on this rich, deeply penetrating and fortifying conditioner) fortifies, strengthens and improves hair flexibility
Silica found in water from natural underground springs? Yep - some natural spring water may be infused with silica since the nutrient does come from the dirt in which plants are grown. Depending on where the spring water comes from and how it is filtered for purity, your water may have modest amounts of silica (among other minerals). Interestingly, spring water that filters through volcanic rock can have fairly high levels of silica due to the natural silica content in the volcanic rock.
More grains - The next grain that has the highest levels of silica is millet. Minimally cooking and processing of course will preserve the most benefit. Other grains that are high in silica are wheat germ and barley.
Some of the best fruit and vegetable sources are strawberries, asparagus, rhubarb, and green beans among others. If you love to eat nuts, then you’ll love to hear that brazil nuts are the highest in silica, with almonds, walnuts and pistachios following suit.
Silica is found in most vegetables and fruits in at least trace amounts since they are all grown form the earth which naturally infused them with some level of the mineral. However, some are better sources than others due to their individual ability to transform the silica that comes from the soil into the version of the mineral that the human body can easily absorb.
Best silica supplements
Horsetail is by far the most well known herb for high silica content. Related: Should You Avoid Sulfates in Your Shampoo? Horsetail not only contains extremely high levels of the mineral as a large part of its biological makeup, but it also supplies us with highly bio-available silica. Just a word of caution, horsetail also acts as a mild diuretic, so be sure you are drinking plenty of high quality water if you are taking this supplement.
Update 10/7/20 : My husband and I have been taking horsetail, just one capsule per day for about 2 months after switching off a more expensive multi-herb silica supplement. The horsetail is much more cost effective, and we've both noticed increased hair and nail growth. To be honest, it's growing a little "too" fast! I've had to re-introduce home micro-trims in between salon visits because my hair is growing exponentially faster!
Horsetail is easily grown and dried into the powder used in supplements, so it is a very cost effective way to get additional silica in your diet. Many people are finding that supplementing with this helps them to grow their hair out while also improving its appearance. A nice side benefit can also be thicker, more resilient skin, new eyebrow growth for those that have over-plucked in the past (like me), much stronger nails and even improved joint health.
In addition to horsetail, there are other herbs and plant sources for this nutrient. One of them is bamboo extract. Bamboo extract is supposed to have more silica content ounce to ounce than horsetail, however it is going to cost more. Related: Castor Oil - Can it Really Help Thicken Thinning Eyebrows and "Baby Border Hairs"?