An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-5.
Use of silicon for skin and hair care: an approach of chemical
forms available and efﬁcacy*
Patrícia Maria Berardo Gonçalves Maia Campos1
Received on 27.08.2014
Financial Support: None.
this element and improving the skin and its annexes appearance. There are different forms of silicon supplements
available and the most important consideration to be made in order to select the best option is related to safety
Keywords: Biological availability; Collagen; Dietary supplements; Hair; Silicon; Silicon compounds; Skin aging
Silicon is the second most abundant element on
most abundant trace element in the human body.1,2 It
is present in the water and in plant and animal sourc-
for optimal synthesis of collagen and for activating
and elasticity. It was shown that physiological con-
blasts to secrete collagen type I.3-5Inthecaseofhair,
it is suggested that higher silicon content in the hair
brightness. Nails are also affected by the presence of
composition.4,5 For these benecial effects, there is
growing interest in scientic studies to examine the
of this element and hence lead to improvements in the
skin and its annexes. There are different forms of sili-
con supplements available and to select the most suit-
made are regarding safety and bioavailability. In some
although there is great variation in silicon bioavail-
However, it is observed that there is still no
consensus among researchers about the statement
that silicon is an essential element for man or about
critically evaluate the information published so far
used in complementary supplements to the diet. That
was the aim of this study.
An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-5.
SKIN AGING PROCESS
The aging process occurs by two main mecha-
nisms: intrinsic and extrinsic. The intrinsic aging is un-
the accumulation of irreversible degenerative changes
associated with aging.4,8,9 The extrinsic aging primar-
ily results from damage caused by ultraviolet radia-
tion. Other factors related to this type of aging include
smoking, pollution and inadequate nutrition. These
are described,8,9 in addition to a reduction of silicon
levels and hyaluronic acid in the connective tissues.10
it to act as an organ of protection from external trau-
ma. They present as essential components of structur-
al integrity of the connective tissue and are present in
largequantities intheskin,bonesandjoints.9,11A re-
duction in the amount of collagen in the skin of about
rectly related to the wrinkles depth.11,12
Changes occurring after menopause are even
lageninthe rst 5 years and annual loss of 0.55% of
elastin.13,14 The biosynthesis process of collagen after the
collagen that has been lost as part of the degradation
processes associated with age.9 The decrease of collagen
that occurs after menopause especially correlates with
decreased bone mineral density associated with age.14
protein is as a potential tool for improving and pre-
venting skin aging.
SILICON: A UBIQUITOUS ELEMENT
Considering the abundance of silicon in the hu-
in men and women.15
groups showed that silicon was an essential element
in chickens and mice.16,17 These experiments demon-
strated that nutritional deciencies of silicon led to
skeletal deformities such as abnormal skull and long
associated with higher concentrations of this element
or not silicon is an essential nutrient for humans and
remainstobeclearlydened.15,18-20 Most of the silicon
excretion and that levels of silicon in blood correlate
with the levels present in urine.21Forthisreason,var-
ious studies evaluate the serum concentration as well
as the one present in urine in order to study the bio-
availability of silicon and its derivatives.
Silicon occurs naturally in foods in the form of
siliconoxideandsilicates, whicharepresentin water
and in plant and animal sources and are found in high
concentrations especially in cereals.18,22 The main sourc-
es of silicon from the diet in the Western Hemisphere
provide about 75% of the total silicon ingested by man.23
However, there are studies that question the
low solubility of some compounds, especially those
that are polymerized.15,24 Thus, although signicant
times it is presented in an insoluble form and cannot
be directly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract. The
can then be absorbed. It is described in the literature
that the aging process is associated with an increase in
gastricpH,which decreasesthe conversion capacity
of this silicon found in foods in the bioavailable form.5
it is considered the most readily available form of sili-
con to humans.19 It is stable when diluted (<10-4M)but
polymerizesinhigher concentrationsinapH closeto
Questions on the bioavailability of silicon from the min-
eral water are reported in the literature. In a study con-
ducted with rats that received supplementation with
icant differences in the concentration of silicon present
in bones in relation to baseline.1Inbeer,itdemonstrated
that about 80% of the total silicon found corresponds
332 Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PMBGM
An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-5.
a reduced bioavailability.10Forthisreason,silicon-con-
concentrateOSAandstabilizeit inawayto makeit
FOOD SUPPLEMENTS CONTAINING SILI-
Different consumptions patterns of supple-
ments containing silicon are observed around the
world. As an example, the organic silicon – com-
consumedinFrance, whileinGermanythe colloidal
meric while other silicates show different degrees of
icon absorption values in experiments with rats and in
some preliminary studies in humans.25,27 Some studies
have shown that it is readily absorbed after digestion
and observed no adverse events with its use. Never-
Jugdaohsingh et al,in2013,conductedastudy
the maximum recommended dose of 10.5 mg/Si/day.
The authors concluded that MMST intake is safe and
that it was absorbed. They also presented data to prove
that,afteringestion, thereisconversionof MMSRin
claiming that studies of longer duration in humans
and toxicological tests in vitro and in animals are need-
ed in order to prove the safety of using the supplement
studieswerenotpresentedin the article in question
and they are also scarce in the available literature on
the subject. The statement on MMST conversion in
The authors of the original study published a
They argued that they used rigorous methodology and
that,intheadoptedconditions, they could conclude
it was safe to use the supplement containing MMST.
er numbers of volunteers and greater length of time
would be needed for the continuation of research in-
volving this supplement.30
MMST has been used as a silicon source for a
long time around the world, especially in Europe.28
the safety have been reported.31,32 However, the Eu-
ropean Food Safety Authority (EFSA) considers that
The greatest number of studies in the literature
addition to representing the most bioavailable form of
and choline chloride. Given the lack of data about ad-
ious silicates are classied as substances “generally
line has important characteristics that place it in the
positionofan idealstabilizerforOSA, inadditionto
highconcentrations,cholineavoids extensive polym-
present in the compound may have a synergistic effect
withOSA, since it is well known its participation in
many basic biological processes.33 Choline is a precur-
protection against the collagen breakdown mediated
the Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources
Added to Food concerning ch-OSA safety. The only
objective was to evaluate ch-OSA as a silicon source
in terms of daily amounts that can be consumed and
Based on different studies conducted in animals
and in humans, the Panel concluded that the silicon
present in ch-OSA is bioavailable and that its use in
Studies were analyzed both in animals and in
humans so the conclusion on bioavailability and safe-
ceivedsupplementcontainingch-OSA or placebofor
23 weeks evaluated the evolution of serum silicon con-
334 Araújo LA, Addor F, Campos PMBGM
An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-5.
centration. There was a 4.9% increase at this concen-
tration in the group of animals receiving silicon.36 In
anotherstudy, VandenBergheassessed the bioavail-
the gestation (16 weeks) and lactation (four weeks)
period. In the offspring of pigs that received supple-
ment containing silicon, signicantly higher silicon
offspring of the control group. The authors attributed
this result to the bioavailability of silicon in the sup-
transfer capability of absorbed silicon.37 The silicon ab-
sessed in a study of 14 healthy volunteers aged 22-34
years. Each volunteer received successive oral doses
in serum concentration of silica compared to baseline
wasobservedforch-OSA.6,19 This study demonstrated
that the bioavailability of silicon is to a great extent
dependent on the chemical form of the compound.
in vivo absorption of silicon by evaluating its serum
absorption for the different sources used were found.
healthy volunteer. It was observed that a diet rich in sil-
when compared with the period in which the volunteer
silicon urinary excretion was observed when the eval-
uated supplementation consisted of tablets containing
dry extract of horsetail. However, the silicon serum
levels remained constant. Only the biologically active
silicon present in solution at 2% silicon in a matrix of
by its chemical form and matrix.
Sripanyakorn et al measured silicon uptake
centration of silicon. The results conrmed that the
tional to intestinal absorption.7
SILICON AND ITS RELATION WITH SKIN,
HAIR AND NAILS
important for optimal synthesis of collagen and for ac-
tivating the hydroxylation enzymes, important in the
and elasticity. Silicon is also associated with the synthesis
of glycosaminoglycans. Concerning the hair, it is sug-
gested that strands with higher silicon content tend to
have lower falling rate and higher brightness. Nails are
is one of the predominant mineral in their composition.
The presence of soft and brittle nails can indicate system-
there is an increased protection against nail infections.4,5
tween 40 and 65 years and with clear clinical signs of
facialphotoaging, the effect of the intake of supple-
OSAtaken daily.Also, serumconcentrationsofvari-
ous components in the blood were evaluated in order
to verify safety of oral treatment. The silicon intake
under these experimental conditions was considered
this treatment. This study, according to the authors,
trolled trial that showed positive results in the skin
microtopography and anisotropy after the intake of
istics and in its mechanical properties.
improvement in the fragility of nails and hair in the
before the start and after the end of the study.
teers had thin hairs and were divided into 2 groups:
ch-OSA and placebo. The rst group received daily
dosesof10mgof silicon, for a periodof9months.4
Morphology and mechanical properties of hair were
evaluated at the beginning and at the end of the study.
loss of hair tensile strength suggests that it has a struc-
turaleffecton hair bers.Accordingto the authors,an
is the chemical form of silicon prevalent in physiological
to form complexes with amino acids and peptides.4,38,39
An Bras Dermatol. 2016;91(3):331-5.
The analysis of the scientic literature on the
use of supplements containing silicon shows great
different conditions of human health and presents aes-
form that presents greater bioavailability; other forms
have absorption inversely proportional to the degree
of polymerization. We also observed that ch-OSA is
and bioavailability of the different existing chemical
of volunteers and long follow-up period.q
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Patrícia Maria Berardo Gonçalves Maia Campos
Avenida do Café, S/N
14040-903 - Ribeirão Preto - SP - Brazil
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