Silicon, the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, is required for life on earth even though it is not incorporated into proteins or nucleic acids that are the building blocks of life. Silicon’s lifesaving role is to protect life from aluminum, the third most common element in the earth’s crust. Aluminum ions (i.e. Al3+) in water are toxic to algae, fish, and human cells, such as neurons. In each of these cases a dissolved oxide of silicon, called silica, has been shown to provide protection from aluminum toxicity.
A small dose of aluminum resulting in only 63 micrograms per liter of aluminum in a person’s cerebrospinal fluid causes unconsciousness. It is estimated from aluminum’s accumulation rate in the body that even after 50 years, 4% of the aluminum ingested today will still be in the body. On average a lifetime of aluminum accumulation results in 1 microgram of aluminum per gram dry weight of brain tissue or approximately 300 micrograms of aluminum in an average 70 year old human brain. More than twice the average rate of aluminum accumulation can cause memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease (Exley, C and Vickers, T; J. Med. Case Rep.; (2014) 8:41). Aluminum also increases homocysteine in the blood causing plaque to build up on the endothelium of arteries resulting in hardening of the arteries (a.k.a. atherosclerosis).
Silica can assume a variety of chemical compositions, an example of which is water soluble orthosilicic acid (a.k.a. OSA). Thirty years ago it was discovered that elderly rats fed OSA in their diet did not accumulate aluminum in their brains as opposed to elderly rats fed a low soluble silicon diet (Carlisle, EM, and Curran, MJ; Alzheimer Dis. Assoc. Disord. (1987) 1(2):83-9). Also 960 micrograms of OSA (10ppm) in 100cc of orange juice taken orally with 30 micrograms of aluminum was found to lower the amount of aluminum in the blood of humans by 85% as compared with controls fed aluminum without OSA (Edwardson, JA, et al.; Lancet (1993) 342(8865):211-12). This is due to OSA facilitating the elimination of aluminum in urine and perspiration (Bellia, JP, et al.; Ann. Clin. Lab. Sci. (1996) 26(3):227-33 and Exley, C; Alzheimer’s and Dementia Summit; 27.18 to 29.12 min. Hosted by J. Landsman (2016)). Therefore OSA taken orally is readily absorbed, enhances the elimination of aluminum, and thereby prevents aluminum accumulation in the body and brain.
Occupational exposure to aluminum can not only increases the level of aluminum in the blood 10 fold (24mcg/liter versus 2.6mcg/liter), it also increases the frequency of high blood pressure, arrhythmias, and ischemic heart disease in those that are exposed (Gaballa, IF, et al.; Egyptian J. Occup. Med. (2013) 37(1):33-46). By inhibiting the methylation of homocysteine to methionine, aluminum ions cause elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood. Acutely elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood increase blood pressure and chronically elevated levels of homocysteine damage the endothelium of arteries resulting in atherosclerosis. OSA keeps homocysteine at low levels by facilitating aluminum elimination. Daily OSA supplementation lowers blood pressure and prevents atherosclerosis.
It is widely accepted that aluminum is a neurotoxin. All seven of the largest epidemiology studies comparing aluminum in drinking water with increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease found a significant dose dependent correlation. In addition, brain autopsy of Alzheimer’s patients revealed elevated aluminum levels in brain regions suffering the most neuronal loss. Two large epidemiology studies found less risk of Alzheimer’s disease when OSA levels in drinking water were greater than 10ppm in spite of elevated aluminum levels (Gillette-Guyonnet, S, et al.; Am. J. Clin. Nutr.; (2005) 81:897-902 and Rondeau, V, et al.; Am. J. Epidemiol.; (2009) 169(4):489-96). Daily 100ppm OSA supplementation taken by Alzheimer’s patients has been shown in some cases to improve cognition (Davenward, S et al.; J. Azheimer’s Dis.; (2013) 33(2):423-30).
The primary sources of OSA in our diet are the skins and husks of seeds, such as green beans, and products made with unprocessed plants, such as beer. In spite of these sources there is a deficiency of OSA in our diet due to the removal of skins and husks during the processing of seeds, such as oats and wheat. This becomes critical both as we age and for pregnant mothers and their fetus. As we age the OSA level in our blood steadily declines. Also, the OSA level in the blood of pregnant mothers drops to near zero as we have evolved to supply our own OSA for protection of the fetus from the neurotoxicity of aluminum (Van Dyke, K; Biol. Trace Element Res.; (2000) 77:25-32). Once the baby is born we have also evolved to supply OSA in mother’s milk in order to keep protecting the baby’s brain. As explained in my recent book there is currently ample evidence to suggest that an OSA deficiency in either the mother or baby formula increases the risk of autism in the child.
OSA is absorbed by the gut and crosses the blood brain barrier. OSA is 3 to 50 times more bioavailable in drinking water than other sources, such as food and colloidal silica supplements. Toxicology studies indicate a No Observed Adverse Effects Level (NOAEL) of daily silica ingestion of 50,000ppm. Silica in drinking water up to 100ppm is Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS). Water departments are encouraged to add OSA to drinking water for corrosion protection. Unfortunately most drinking water in the U.S. contains less than 5ppm of OSA. There are countries with naturally occurring high levels of OSA in their drinking water, such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Fiji. Not surprisingly these countries have a much lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and autism than the U.S.
Bottled drinking water is commercially available from both Malaysia (i.e. Spritzer) and Fiji that contains approximately 100ppm of OSA. Also, in my book “Prevent Alzheimer’s, Autism, and Stroke – With Seven Supplements, Seven Lifestyle Choices, and a Dissolved Mineral” there is a recipe for quickly making 100ppm OSA drinking water, called Silicade, from tap water using readily available and inexpensive ingredients.