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Open Access Research

Absorption of silicon from artesian aquifer water and its impact on bone health in postmenopausal women: a 12 week pilot study

Zhaoping Li*, Hannah Karp, Alona Zerlin, Tsz Ying Amy Lee, Catherine Carpenter and David Heber

Author Affiliations

Center for Human Nutrition, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:44  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-44

Published: 14 October 2010

Abstract

Background

Decreased bone mineral density and osteoporosis in postmenopausal women represents a growing source of physical limitations and financial concerns in our aging population. While appropriate medical treatments such as bisphosphonate drugs and hormone replacement therapy exist, they are associated with serious side effects such as osteonecrosis of the jaw or increased cardiovascular risk. In addition to calcium and vitamin D supplementation, previous studies have demonstrated a beneficial effect of dietary silicon on bone health. This study evaluated the absorption of silicon from bottled artesian aquifer water and its effect on markers of bone metabolism.

Methods

Seventeen postmenopausal women with low bone mass, but without osteopenia or osteoporosis as determined by dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) were randomized to drink one liter daily of either purified water of low-silicon content (PW) or silicon-rich artesian aquifer water (SW) (86 mg/L silica) for 12 weeks. Urinary silicon and serum markers of bone metabolism were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks and analyzed with two-sided t-tests with p < 0.05 defined as significant.

Results

The urinary silicon level increased significantly from 0.016 ± 0.010 mg/mg creatinine at baseline to 0.037 ± 0.014 mg/mg creatinine at week 12 in the SW group (p = 0.003), but there was no change for the PW group (0.010 ± 0.004 mg/mg creatinine at baseline vs. 0.009 ± 0.006 mg/mg creatinine at week 12, p = 0.679). The urinary silicon for the SW group was significantly higher in the silicon-rich water group compared to the purified water group (p < 0.01). NTx, a urinary marker of bone resorption did not change during the study and was not affected by the silicon water supplementation. No significant change was observed in the serum markers of bone formation compared to baseline measurements for either group.

Conclusions

These findings indicate that bottled water from artesian aquifers is a safe and effective way of providing easily absorbed dietary silicon to the body. Although the silicon did not affect bone turnover markers in the short-term, the mineral's potential as an alternative prevention or treatment to drug therapy for osteoporosis warrants further longer-term investigation in the future.

Trial Registration

ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01067508