During a recent salon visit, I was talking to my colorist about everything and anything—the usual chatter—and something came up about supplements. While I was going on about apple cider vinegar concoctions and collagen peptides (my go-tos), he was talking about something totally different: drinking silver.
Though not a new product, colloidal silver supplements are still pretty much under the radar. So needless to say, I was eager to investigate. My colorist said he purchases his bottles at a local medspa (you can also find them online and in some health food stores), where the liquid is touted as an immune-booster that helps keep people from getting sick. He said he’s been taking it every day and he’s hardly been sick since. To say he was raving about the benefits would be an understatement.
I’ll admit I was intrigued, but I couldn’t help but wonder, is ingesting silver safe? Why not just up your daily dose of vitamin C?
According to New York nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin, founder of BZ Nutrition, colloidal silver is made up of tiny silver particles in liquid. “We’re talking the same type of precious metal silver that makes up your jewelry,” she says. “You might see it being sold in medspas because it claims to be an alternative medicine to help fight off and treat a variety of infections—an antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial remedy. It also claims to be a diet aid to help you lose weight. However, the key word here is CLAIM, as the FDA has taken legal action against various colloidal silver product companies touting these benefits.”
Celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson agrees. “Historically, colloidal silver was used to treat infection (before antibiotics). Because of antibiotic resistance, there has been renewed interest for its use, but it is not recognized as a safe ingredient by the FDA, and the FDA actually pulled many types of these silver products off the market in 1999.”
Even the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published that “silver is not a nutritionally essential mineral or useful dietary supplement. Scientific evidence doesn’t support the use of colloidal silver dietary supplements for any disease or condition, and it has no known function or benefits in the body when taken by mouth.”
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So what makes it so unsafe? “Silver has no place in the human body and can be dangerous to consume,” says Zeitlin. “In fact, if you are taking colloidal silver, it can build up in your body’s tissues, causing a bluish-grey discoloration of your skin, known as argyria, that does not reverse itself after you stop taking the colloidal silver (i.e. permanent). Colloidal silver can also interfere with some common medications, such as those for thyroid issues.”
Although many experts advise against taking silver supplements, there are still health care professionals who continue to promote the benefits of them and sell the products through their medspas and other channels (as I learned from my colorist and through research).
To err on the side of caution, there are other “safer” alternatives to help boost your immune system. “The best and healthiest way to do this is to eat a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables, so that you are getting a variety of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals,” says Zeitlin. “A general multivitamin can help you get a variety of these micronutrients, but whole, fresh foods, fruits and veggies are always the first line of defense to fighting off colds, illnesses and chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and inflammation. Additionally, a probiotic can be helpful to boost immunity (and probiotic foods such as Greek yogurt, kombucha and fermented veggies) because your gut houses about 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system, so keeping you gut healthy will help to boost those immune cells.”
Before taking any supplement, make sure you do your research before taking someone’s word for it (even a professional at a medspa). Ask your doctor if it’s a good option for you and make sure it won’t conflict with any existing supplements or medications you’re taking. And regarding silver specifically, as Zeitlin points out, “If you wouldn’t eat your silver necklace, why would you drink it?”
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