Silica has been shown to increase nail thickness. (Photo by James Jordan)
It's time for another update on my experiment with orthosilicic acid, the bioavailable form of silica.
For the past four and a half months I've been taking BioSil, a supplement that contains silica in a more absorbarble form known as choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid (ch-OSA). In one study, this form of silica improved skin, hair and nail quality in women after 20 weeks, so I decided to see whether it would affect my nail and hair growth too.
During the first two and a half months, I took 5 mg of BioSil daily to see whether a lower dose would be effective. I concluded that it might have increased nail thickness slightly, but that the rate of growth was unchanged. I also saw no increase in hair growth speed or thickness.
As the study on women used 10 mg instead of 5 mg daily, I doubled my dose after the 10 week mark. For the past two months, I've been on the 10 mg dose. The total time of my experiment is therefore very close to the duration of the study on women. The difference is that until about halfway through, I was taking half a dose.
To evaluate the effectiveness of BioSil, I've been cutting my nails every 14 days and trying to measure the speed of my nail growth. I've also looked at variation in the thickness of roots and tips of shed hairs. Based on my subjective evaluation, there's been no significant change. My nails are thicker than they were some years ago, but I suspect the change is due to a healthier lifestyle in general rather than supplementing with silica. During these past months, I've seen no further improvement.
I also took a two-week break from BioSil to see if my nail growth speed would come to a decline. Again, based on subjective evaluation, there's been no change. Nevertheless, I'm continuing the experiment at least until I've taken 10 mg of orthosilicic acid daily for 20 weeks. That way comparisons between my own experiment and the published study are more comparable.
However, from this point on, I'm switching from BioSil to JarroSil. Both are silica supplements that contain orthosilicic acid in a stabilized form, but the method of stabilization is different: JarroSil uses PEG and a boron compound, while BioSil uses choline.
If you've used BioSil before, then you might be aware that Jarrow used to sell BioSil. Currently, the Belgian supplier of BioSil has sold the rights to Natrol, so Jarrow decided to make their own form of stabilized orthosilicic acid and give it a different name.
What about price? Well, one 1 oz (30 ml) bottle of Natrol's BioSil costs $23.99 at iHerb and contains 120 servings of 5 mg orthosilicic acid. A 2 oz (60 ml) bottle of Jarrow's JarroSil costs $17.99 and contains 120 servings of 4 mg of orthosilicic acid. So a month of daily 10 mg doses will cost you $12 with BioSil and $11.25 with JarroSil. Not much of a difference.
Jarrow claims that their product is 2.5 more bioavailable than other formulations, but as of yet, there are no studies showing that this is true. Also, quite a few of the studies have used the (ch-OSA found in BioSil, while other formulations have been studied less. At this point, we just don't know which one is better. Maybe this experiment will shed more light on the issue.
For more information on hair, skin and nails, see these posts:
Topical Vitamin C for Skin: Re-examining the Case
Lutein for Skin Elasticity, Hydration and Photo-Protection – Experiment Begins
Do Flax Lignans Reduce Hair Loss from MPB?
Coconut Oil Is Better than Olive Oil for Atopic Dermatitis