Silicon is one of the most abundant elements on earth. It is also found in significant amounts in the human body. Silicon and its alloys (made by combining it with other metals) are used extensively in various fields such as electronics, aviation, construction, and healthcare. Research suggests that silicon is essential for various health benefits such as a healthy heart, brain, skin, hair, nails, and digestion. The mechanism through which silicon provides these health benefits is not well understood. However, silicon may have a role in the formation of the bone and synthesis of the protein collagen in the body.
The word silicon is often considered a synonym for silicone. They both are, however, not the same substances. Silicone is a substance made from several chemicals such as silicon, oxygen, carbon, and hydrogen. It is generally manufactured as a flexible material resembling plastic. Silicone is used for making several household products, breast implants, and medical devices such as medical tubes.
Silicon is used for several purposes:
- Healthcare: Various types of silicon supplements are available for medicinal purposes. There is, however, limited evidence to support the health benefits of these supplements. You must not consume any of the silicon supplements without consulting your doctor. Some of the proposed health benefits of silicon may include:
- Promoting bone health: Silicon can promote bone formation in both men and women. Studies have suggested that premenopausal women and men who took a higher amount of silicon in their diet had stronger bones. Silicon, however, does not seem to reduce the bone cell breakdown. Thus, it does not provide any significant benefit in postmenopausal women.
- Healthy skin: Silicon supplements may make the skin healthier and firmer.
- Healthy heart: Silicon may protect against heart diseases.
- Healthy brain: Some studies have suggested that silicon supplementation can protect against brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- Healthy hair and nails: Silicon may promote the growth of healthy hair and nails.
- Manage digestive issues: Silicon supplements may be given to promote healthy digestion and gut health.
- Treatment of sprains and strains: Some studies have suggested that silicon may provide quicker recovery from sprains and strains.
Silicon is used in the production of silicone that may be used for making
- Breast implants.
- Topical medications.
- Drug delivery systems.
- Heart pacemakers.
- Lubricants to ease the insertion of needles and devices.
- Electronics: Silicon has various uses in electronic manufacturing. It is used for making highly sensitive circuits, keyboards, keypads microprocessors, and semiconductors.
- Aviation and aerospace: Silicon and its derived compounds are used in the manufacturing and maintenance of aircraft and spacecraft.
- Construction: Silicon may be used for the manufacture of various sealants, adhesives, and coatings in the construction.
- Household products: Several durable cookware and food containers can be made using silicon.
- Cosmetics and personal care products: Silicon is used in the manufacture of various personal care products including shampoos, conditioners, lotions, sunscreens, antiperspirants, deodorants, and make-up products such as skin foundations and nail paints.