Hyaluronic acid – it sounds a bit like something out of a chemistry class, and actually, trying to describe exactly what it is can get a bit scientific. Naturally produced by your body, hyaluronic acid is a sort of clear substance, gooey in texture.
You’ll find the majority of hyaluronic acid in your skin, as well as in your connective tissues and your eyes. It’s essential for keeping important parts of your body moist and lubricated for optimum functioning.
If you’ve heard of hyaluronic acid, you’ve most likely seen it being sold in supplement form in health stores or noticed it being used in “face lift” non-surgical procedures. There’s been a recent craze with hyaluronic acid because scientific research suggests that many of us don’t have enough of it in our bodies, which can lead to a number of different health issues. Stay tuned to learn exactly how hyaluronic acid works, the benefits it can provide, how to use it, and any side effects to be aware of.
Why we might not produce enough hyaluronic acid naturally
As you age, it’s natural for your body to produce fewer vitamins and other compounds that promote youthful skin, like hyaluronic acid. This is a natural aging process, and there’s no way that we can ever stop it from happening.
However, there are a few things you can do to reduce the depletion of hyaluronic acid and retain what’s left in your skin. Your diet and lifestyle can have a big impact on how much hyaluronic acid you naturally produce.
A decrease in hyaluronic acid is usually down to two different factors: those that occur inside the body, and the external factors that are generally out of our control. Our hormones are one of the biggest internal factors that affect hyaluronic acid production.
Research shows that when we get older, our oestrogen levels and testosterone both reduce, which leads to a loss of hyaluronic acid and skin moisture. One of the biggest external factors, on the other hand, is caused by exposure to the sun. It’s thought that our hyaluronic acid levels can begin to decline after just five minutes of exposure to the sun’s UV rays.
So if we’re not making enough hyaluronic acid, where else can we find it? There are certain foods that we can try to include more in our diets for an increased intake of hyaluronic acid, including:
1. Magnesium rich foods
A lack of magnesium in the diet, known as a magnesium deficiency, is directly linked to low levels of hyaluronic acid. It's vital that you get enough magnesium every day if you want to maintain your hyaluronic acid levels.
Only about 30 percent of the magnesium you eat is absorbed, so you’ll need to take in a lot of the mineral to get the amount you need. You can find magnesium in nuts like peanuts and almonds, as well as spinach, white potatoes, brown rice, yogurt, and salmon. Magnesium supplements are also an option if you don’t get enough in your diet.
2. Bone broth
It might not sound the most unappealing, but bone broth is one of the best foods to consume for maintaining high levels of hyaluronic acid. You’ll struggle to get direct sources of hyaluronic acid from meat alone, but because bone broth is simmered in water over a period of up to twenty-four hours, it draws out the essential nutrients, including hyaluronic acid, from the bones and adds them to the broth.
3. Zinc rich foods
Evidence suggests that a diet low in zinc is also linked to lower levels of hyaluronic acid, so make sure to up your zinc intake if you think you might be lacking. You can choose from a number of natural food sources of zinc, including oysters, beef, pork, chicken, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, and cashews, which can all help to boost your levels of hyaluronic acid.
It’s worth mentioning that even though you’ll find beans, whole-grain bread, and some fortified cereals a good source of zinc, they also contain something called phytates, which prevent the best absorption of the mineral.
4. Soy-Based Foods
We’ve already mentioned that we need high levels of oestrogen for a sufficient production of hyaluronic acid by the body, and soy-based foods like tofu, tempeh and edamame are all some of the best natural sources oestrogen to include in your diet. If you’re a vegetarian looking to up your hyaluronic acid intake, soy foods are a realluy great source of plant-based proteins and will fill you up, as well as being packed full of vitamins and minerals.
5. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits all contain something called naringenin, which prevents hyaluronic acid from breaking down in the body. Aim to include more fruits like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, in your diet. You can also obtain naringenin from fruit juices, or if citrus isn’t your thing, tomatoes and bananas contain naringenin as well.
Aside from attaining hyaluronic acid from your diet, you can also choose to use hyaluronic acid supplements.
You can supplement with hyaluronic acid in a number of different ways, depending on what it is you’re wanting to treat. Most people will take hyaluronic acid by mouth, in tablet or soluble powder form, if they’re looking to treat skin issues or slow down ageing.
It can also be applied directly to the skin, injected into skin wrinkles in a “face lift” style procedure, or delivered by catheter to treat urinary tract infections.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Now we know where to find it, why exactly do we need hyaluronic acid?
You might not know that even though a full 50 percent of hyaluronic acid is located in your skin, it can be found inside every cell and tissue in your body. It has a wide range of functions that go beyond skincare, including the following benefits:
1. Speeds up wound healing
Hyaluronic acid is incredibly important for wound healing. While it’s naturally present in the skin, more hyaluronic acid is produced when there’s damage that needs to be repaired.
Hyaluronic acid speeds up wound healing by regulating inflammation levels and telling the body to produce more blood vessels in the damaged area. It’s thought that directly applying it to skin wounds can reduce the size of wounds and effectively reduce pain, and its antibacterial properties reduce the risk of infection when applied directly to open wounds.
2. Healthier skin
This is probably what you know hyaluronic acid the best for: it helps your skin to be healthier and more supple. The hyaluronic acid in our skin binds to water to help retain moisture, and taking hyaluronic acid supplements may prevent a natural decline by providing your body with extra amounts to incorporate into the skin.
Studies have shown that regular dosages of hyaluronic acid are effective in increasing skin moisture and reducing dry skin, which in turn can reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Other studies have found that hyaluronic acid may reduce redness, as well as treat skin conditions like dermatitis.
3. Relieves joint pain
Hyaluronic acid is also found in the joints. It’s necessary for lubricating the space between your bones, making them less likely to grind against each other and cause pain and discomfort.
This is why people with osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative joint disease caused by stress on the joints over time, can really benefit from taking hyaluronic acid supplements on a daily basis.
4. May help with acid reflux
Some particularly interesting new research shows that hyaluronic acid supplements may be able to help alleviate symptoms of acid reflux. Acid reflux causes the contents of the stomach to regurgitate up into the throat, which can damage the lining of the oesophagus.
It’s thought that hyaluronic acid might be able to alleviate damage in the oesophagus and help acid reflux sufferers to recover more quickly. One study found that applying a hyaluronic acid to throat tissue helped it heal more effectively than with no treatment.
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5. Relieves pain from cystitis
A small percentage of women suffer from a condition called interstitial cystitis, which causes abdominal pain and the frequent need to urinate. We’re still largely unsure about the exact causes of interstitial cystitis, but hyaluronic acid has been discovered to be effective in relieving the pain and frequency of urination that’s associated with interstitial cystitis when it’s inserted directly by catheter into the bladder.
Hyaluronic acid can also be used in a similar way to treat urinary tract infections.
6. Prevents dry eyes
It’s thought that an increasing number of people suffer from dry eye symptoms because of reduced tear production, and hyaluronic acid is an excellent treatment for this, thanks to its ability to retain moisture. Eye drops containing a small amount of hyaluronic acid have been shown to reduce dry eye symptoms and improve eye health over a shorter and longer-term basis.
It’s unclear yet whether oral supplements have quite the same effect.
7. Improves bone health
We don’t know too much about this yet, but new research has been carried out that links hyaluronic acid supplements with bone health. A number of studies have found that hyaluronic acid supplements are effective in reducing the rate of bone loss in rodents with osteopenia, the beginning stage of bone loss that eventually leads to osteoporosis.
It’s also thought that an increased amount of hyaluronic acid can have a positive effect on cells called osteoblasts, which we need to build new bone tissue.
Possible side effects of hyaluronic acid
Little research has been carried out when it comes to the long-term safety of hyaluronic acid supplements. However, a number of clinical trials have found that hyaluronic acid generally has no lasting effect in either men or women who have increased their intake of the acid.
The specific side effects of hyaluronic acid depend on how it’s being administered. For example, reports suggest that when it’s injected into the skin, hyaluronic acid can sometimes cause temporary headaches, dizziness, itching, tingling, or swelling. The same could occur with hyaluronic acid that’s taken orally, although you generally take a much lower dose with oral supplements.
On rare occasions, you may find that you’re allergic to hyaluronic acid. It all depends on where your hyaluronic acid supplement has been derived from. For example, if you’re allergic to chicken feathers, protein, or eggs, you might want to read the ingredients in your supplement carefully before administering.
If you thought that hyaluronic acid could only be used to diminish your skin wrinkles, this video has probably surprised you. There is so much more that can be done with hyaluronic acid than simply injecting it into your skin as an anti-wrinkle solution – and actually, it’s good for maintaining all-round physical health in general.Before you get started with hyaluronic acid, think about exactly what you want to achieve from it. Discussing with your doctor or dermatologist might be a good idea if you want to make sure you’re making the most out of the supplement, or even whether the supplement is for you. And if you’re considering hyaluronic acid injections, make sure you do your research and find the most trusted source to carry out the job.