08 July, 2011
Benefits of Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
People use food grade diatomaceous earth as a dietary source of silica -- its main component. Proponents claim silica helps lower cholesterol, promote healthy blood pressure and help keep bones strong. Data supports the role of silica for bone health. However, evidence for other benefits is lacking. Food grade diatomaceous earth is purified and the only form safe for human consumption. It has GRAS status as an additive with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which stands for generally recognized as safe. However, still speak to your health care provider before supplementing with diatomaceous earth.
Promotes Bone Health
You may know that nutrients like vitamin D and C are needed for bone health. It may surprise you to know that silica is also necessary for healthy bones. Clinical data show silica intake is linked to higher bone mineral density, according to the JNHA review. The increase in bone mineral density is seen in men, premenopausal women and post-menopausal women on hormone replacement therapy, according to the authors. Animal data show that silica deficiency results in thin bones and skeletal abnormalities, and in humans silica supplementation appears to help fight osteoporosis, according to the review.
Potential Cholesterol Benefits
Proponents claim that diatomaceous earth helps lower cholesterol due to its rich silica content. The problem is that the limited evidence that exists is outdated. A few studies were published in the late 1990s, such as one published in the European Journal of Medical Research in April 1998. The study involved males and females with moderately elevated cholesterol who supplemented with diatomaceous earth for four weeks, resulting in a significant decrease in cholesterol and triglycerides. Scientists need to conduct current research to confirm this potential benefit.
May Benefit Heart Health
Silica may benefit heart heath, but scientists have yet to test the effects in humans. The main artery in your body, the aorta, contains significant levels of silica, which decreases as you age and as the artery hardens. Given this, researchers evaluated the effect of silica in animals with high blood pressure. They found that silica had anti-inflammatory effects that benefited the heart and had properties that lowered blood pressure through stimulating an increase in cellular magnesium. The study was published in a 2011 issue of the journal Nutrition Research.
Supplementation May Not Be Necessary
No side effects of supplementing with diatomaceous earth have been reported. Keep in mind it has not been adequately evaluated for toxicity in humans. Additionally, it may not be necessary to take food grade diatomaceous earth supplements. The average diet supplies enough silica for health benefits, according to a review published in the Volume 13, 2013 issue of Metal Ions in Life Sciences. The richest sources of silica in your diet are whole grains such as oats, rice bran, wheat bran and barley.
- Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging: Silicon and Bone Health
- European Journal of Medical Research: Diatomaceous Earth Lowers Blood Cholesterol Concentrations
- Nutrition Research: Soluble Silica and Coral Sand Suppress High Blood Pressure and Improve the Related Aortic Gene Expressions in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Select Committee on GRAS Substances (SCOGS) Opinion: Diatomaceous Earth (Filter Aid)
- Metal Ions in Life Sciences: Silicon -- The Health Benefits of a Metalloid
- Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images