Some vitamin companies sell items with questionable health benefits. You may see advertisements for colloidal, ionic, or nano silver products, which are basically silver particles in a liquid. Silver ions have proven useful in coatings of medical devices; water filters; catheters, respirators, bone cement; and wound dressings to name a few.
Silver is an antiseptic and is toxic to cells so it does kill certain pathogens, and has many useful applications, but it does not the cure all for the diseases and health conditions they claim. The truth is that there are no high quality long term studies on the health benefits of ingesting any form of silver products, yet there is evidence of its potential danger.
Colloidal silver has been reported to cause argyria, a bluish-gray discoloration of the skin, that can affect internal organs, eyes, nails and gums which is usually permanent. Exposure to soluble silver compounds may produce toxic effects like liver, kidney and heart damage; eye, skin, respiratory, and intestinal tract irritations; and changes in blood cells.
Silver can also cause poor absorption or interact with certain antibiotics and thyroxine (used to treat thyroid deficiency). Even back in 1999 the FDA warned that that colloidal silver isn’t safe or effective for treating any disease or condition, yet companies still sell these potentially dangerous products today.
Silver is not a nutritionally essential mineral or a useful dietary supplement. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that colloidal silver is NOT safe or effective for treating any disease or condition. The FDA and the Federal Trade Commission have taken action against a number of companies for making misleading claims about colloidal and other silver products. It’s not clear how much colloidal or nano silver may be harmful, especially in the elderly. According to Mayo Clinic, silver can build up in your body’s tissues over months or years. Although cases are rare, excessive doses may cause serious side effects, irreversible kidney damage, cardiac stress and neurological problems, including seizures, and death.
NOTE: If you have had a serious adverse effect from silver or another product sold as a dietary supplement report it to www.safetyreporting.hhs.gov.