What does hyaluronic do for the body?
Did you know that hyaluronic acid is not just for keeping your skin looking young and fresh? This amazing substance does so much more for the body, and today we're going to explore some of its lesser known benefits.
You'll be surprised at how hyaluronic acid can improve your overall health!
So, let's get started.
What is hyaluronic acid?
"Hyaluronic acid, or in its short version HA, is a sugar molecule found naturally in our skin that binds to water to help hydrate and smooth the skin," says Vancouver dermatologist Katie Belezney. It is also found in our joints, eyes and tissues, helping to keep them toned (aka hydrated/lubricated AF).
So, if our bodies naturally produce HA, why do we need supplements? As we age, the supply of hyaluronic acid in our body decreases. Beleznay says, "Our skin naturally loses hyaluronic acid in its outer layer, which makes it difficult to retain moisture".
What does this mean for our skin? It can become drier, less supple and begin to form fine lines, which is where HA supplementation comes into play.
The most convenient and non-invasive way to utilize hyaluronic acid is through skin treatments. Beleznay says, "When applied topically, HA can act as a moisturizer. The moisturizer is essentially the skin's gatekeeper, helping to absorb water and prevent it from getting out".
It is also possible to add more HA to the skin with fillers, which are injected under the skin to add volume and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid
Let's chat about what you really want to know. What effects does it have on your body.
Promotes healthier and more elastic skin
Hyaluronic acid supplements can help skin look and feel firmer.
About half of the hyaluronic acid in your body is found in your skin, where it binds water to help retain moisture.
But the natural aging process and exposure to factors like ultraviolet light from the sun, tobacco smoke and pollution can reduce the amount in your skin.
Taking hyaluronic acid supplements can prevent this reduction by giving the body extra hyaluronic acid to incorporate into the skin.
120-240 mg doses per day for at least a month significantly increase skin moisture and reduce dry skin in adults.
Moisturized skin also reduces the appearance of wrinkles, which may explain why some studies show that supplementation can make skin more smooth.
Hyaluronic acid serums reduces wrinkles, redness and dermatitis when applied to the surface of the skin
Hyaluronic acid fillers are injected by some dermatologists to make skin look firm and youthful.
Speeds wound healing
Hyaluronic acid also heals wounds.
Hyaluronic acid is present in the skin, but its concentration increases when the injury needs to be repaired.
It does this by regulating levels of inflammation and giving the body a signal to create more blood vessels in the injured area.
Its application to wounds has been shown to reduce wound size and reduce pain faster than a placebo or no treatment.
Hyaluronic acid also has antibacterial properties, so may help reduce the risk of infection when applied directly to open wounds.
While research on hyaluronic acid serums and gels is promising, no studies have been conducted to determine whether supplements with hyaluronic acid can provide the same benefits.
However, since oral supplements increase the level of hyaluronic acid contained in the skin, it can be assumed that they may provide some benefit.
Lubricates bones thus relieving joint pain.
Hyaluronic acid also makes its home in your joints, where it keeps the space between the bones in a lubricated state.
When joints are lubricated, bones are less likely to rub against each other and cause unpleasant pain.
Hyaluronic acid supplements are very useful for people suffering from osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease caused by wear and tear over time.
Taking 80-200 mg daily for at least two months has been shown to significantly reduce knee pain in people with osteoarthritis, especially those aged 40 to 70.
Pain relief is also achieved when hyaluronic acid is injected directly into the joints. However, a review of more than 12,000 adults showed only a slight reduction in pain and an increased risk of side effects.
Some studies suggest that combining oral hyaluronic acid supplements with injections may prolong the pain-relieving effects and increase the time between injections.
Relieves acid reflux symptoms
New research shows that hyaluronic acid supplements can help reduce acid reflux symptoms.
When acid reflux occurs, stomach contents erupt into the throat, causing pain and damage to the mucous membrane of the esophagus.
Hyaluronic acid can help soothe damaged esophageal lining and speed up the recovery process.
An in vitro study found that applying a mixture of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulphate to acid-damaged throat tissue promoted healing much faster than if no treatment was applied.
Human studies have also shown positive results.
One study showed that taking hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulphate supplements together with an acid suppressant reduced reflux symptoms by 60% compared to taking the acid suppressant alone.
A second study showed that supplements of the same type were five times more effective in reducing acid reflux symptoms than placebo.
We do stress that research in this area is still relatively new and more data and research is needed to replicate these results. However, these results are promising.
Relieves dry eyes and discomfort
Approximately 1 in 7 seniors suffer from dry eye symptoms due to decreased tear production or tears evaporating too quickly.
Because hyaluronic acid is an excellent moisture retainer, it is often used to treat dry eyes.
0.2-0.4% hyaluronic acid in eye drops has been shown to reduce dry eye symptoms and improve eye health.
Contact lenses containing slow-release hyaluronic acid are also being developed as a possible treatment for dry eye.
In addition, hyaluronic acid eye drops are commonly used during eye surgery to reduce inflammation and accelerate wound healing.
Direct application to the eyes with hyaluronic acid helps to reduce dry eye symptoms and improve overall eye health. But the jury is still out on whether oral supplements have the same effect. Consult your doctor before applying hyaluronic acid to your eyes.
To date, there are no studies examining the effects of hyaluronic acid supplements on dry eyes, but this may be a future area of research.
Keep your bones strong.
New animal studies have begun to examine the effects of hyaluronic acid supplements on bone health.
Two studies have shown that hyaluronic acid supplements can help slow the rate of bone mass loss in rats with osteopenia, an early stage of bone mass loss that precedes osteoporosis.
In vitro studies have also shown that high doses of hyaluronic acid can increase the activity of osteoblasts. Osteoblasts are the worker cells responsible for forming new bone tissue.
Although its effects on human bone health have not yet been studied, early animal and in vitro studies are encouraging.
Can prevent bladder pain.
About 3-6% of women suffer from a condition called interstitial cystitis, or painful bladder syndrome.
This condition causes abdominal pain and tenderness as well as a strong and frequent need to urinate. The causes of interstitial cystitis are unknown to this day.
Fortunately, hyaluronic acid has been found to help relieve the pain and urinary frequency associated with this condition when injected directly into the bladder through a catheter.
It is unclear why hyaluronic acid helps relieve these symptoms, but researchers suggest that it helps repair tissue damage to the bladder. This leads to the bladder being less sensitive to pain.
Similar to the eye issue that we mentioned previous, studies have not yet determined whether oral hyaluronic acid supplements can have the same effect.
Is hyaluronic acid worth all the excitement?
How can one substance have so many magical effects? And are the claims of "organic liquid facelift" or "joint solution" justified?
Hyaluronic acid plays an important, albeit varied, role in the body. It is a major part of epithelial tissue and appears to play a role in cell division and movement.
It is also a key ingredient of synovial fluid, the fluid inside synovial joints, such as the hip or wrist joint in humans, and acts as a lubricant.
Hyaluronic acid is also found in articular cartilage, which covers all cells and it is involved in the body's innate immune system (high levels of hyaluronic acid can be a marker for prostate and breast cancer). 15 grams of hyaluronic acid is found in the average body, and about 1/3 of it is broken down every day.
In short, hyaluronic acid serves many functions, from skin repair to joint lubrication, so it makes sense for promoters to use it as a possible treatment for a variety of health problems, from osteoarthritis to sunburns. But what does science say about its healing properties?
Studies have shown that for people with osteoarthritis, intra-articular injections (joint shots) of hyaluronic acid are just as effective as NSAIDs or placebos and often have fewer side effects. Similarly, studies have shown that artificial tears containing hyaluronic acid used to treat chronic dry eyes are a safe and effective option.
This also applies to dry skin. However, the oral use of hyaluronic acid needs to be studied.
Oral hyaluronic acid treatments studies seem to have very positive results.
One study showed that daily oral hyaluronic acid supplementation improved several quality of life indicators in adults who had osteoarthritis of the knee, and this study concluded that oral highly purified hyaluronic acid is effective in treating American patients with osteoarthritis of the knee.
Some studies, such as this one in which oral hyaluronic acid administration was combined with exercise, have also yielded positive results.
These results seem promising, and if we hadn't spent some time reading the methodological sections of these studies, we would have joined the others and gotten right on the hype train. Each study used a daily dose of hyaluronic acid ranging from 60-200 mg.
Most supplements recommend hyaluronic acid in the 100-200 mg range, but Novisyn, perhaps one of the best-known supplements, contains only 17 mg of hyaluronic acid per package per day.
There is good evidence to suggest that hyaluronic acid taken orally is absorbed in the digestive tract and migrates to the appropriate connective tissue. Some evidence shows that it has biological effects even without being absorbed.
However, these functions depend on having enough hyaluronic acid molecules to interact with the appropriate receptors, and at the 17 mg dose, this is probably not the case.
So ask your doctor about hyaluronic acid for osteoarthritis or chronic dry eye, but be sure to read the package before you buy the pills.