Think of where qualities like strength and flexibility are needed in the body, and you are probably thinking of tissue containing the mineral silica. It is found in the bones, cartilage, artery walls, hair, nails and skin.

Deficiencies will show in all of the above. Hair and nails may become brittle and the skin will lose some of its ability to heal, as well as its moisture and elasticity. Arterial walls will weaken and bone and cartilage development may be hindered. There is now some evidence to suggest that the silica may help shield the body against the harmful effects of aluminium and may provide some degree of protection against the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Silica is available in most fibrous fruits and vegetables like celery, rhubarb, mango, asparagus and particularly lettuce. It is a major component of many of the vegetable skins and husks we often throw away. To take better advantage of the silica in our food, therefore, choose wholegrain foods and eat vegetables and fruit with their skins when possible.

Herbal sources include horsetail, which contains not only high levels of silica, but also the minerals necessary for its absorption by the body. Take it with care, in conjunction with herbs containing a mucilage such as slippery elm or marshmallow, as it can be harsh and scarring to the kidneys. A supplement of silica in tablet form is probably preferable for the treatment of deficiencies. Limit your daily intake to about 30-40mg/day.

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