Hyaluronic acid is involved in several physiological processes. For example, it plays a key role in the healing of wounds, cell regeneration, joint lubrication and the connective system.
- 1. What is Hyaluronic Acid?
- 2. What are the sources of Hyaluronic Acid?
- 3. Properties of Hyaluronic Acid
- 4. Hyaluronic acid deficiency
- 5. Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the skin
- 6. Collagen with Hyaluronic acid
- 7. Properties of collagen and hyaluronic acid
- 8. Foods rich in hyaluronic acid
- 9. Hyaluronic Acid in capsules
- 10. Hyaluronic acid in cream
- 11. Side effects of hyaluronic acid
- 12. Bibliography
- 13. Related Entries
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
HA is a glycosaminoglycan (GAG) present in the entire body. However, its highest concentrations are in the synovial fluid, vitreous humor, cartilage, blood vessels, and umbilical chord. This substance should not be underestimated, since it is present in all the tissues of the body.
It is also abundant in the skin, in fact, HA is one of the main elements of the extracellular matrix. This is a key component in all the connective tissues, including collagen and cartilage.
In terms of sports, HA can improve the recovery from certain injuries when compared to a placebo.
Moreover, it is the substance responsible for the elasticity and beauty of the skin. This organ is nourished from the inside out, and the connective tissue has hyaluronic acid.
What are the sources of Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is a gelatinous substance that is naturally produced in the body, specially in the soft connective tissue. Occasionally, its levels drop, leading to health problems like arthrosis. We need this substance to bind the collagen fibers and elastin, which is also important for a healthy skin.
Moreover, it is a basic component of the synovial fluid which lubricates the joint capsules.
Passing of time
For instance, the liver is both a great source of this acid and iron. If we want to use vegetable products, roots and tubers, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, are the two main choices.
Properties of Hyaluronic Acid
It plays an essential role in:
- Keeping the tissues hydrated, specially our skin.
- Working as an antioxidant.
- Lubricating the joint and connective system.
- Producing an anti-inflammatory response.
One of the main properties of HA is its ability to hydrate, due to its hydrophilic molecules. In fact, they can absorb up to 1000 times their own weight in water. The aging process progressively reduces the synthesis of this acid. Consequently, aging hinders our ability to retain water in the cells and tissues.
Hyaluronic acid deficiency
- Dry and weak skin (lack of water)
- Connective tissue problems
- Joint pain
- Difficulty to move
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the skin
The skin is the largest organ of our body and it makes up a 15% of our body weight. Approximately a 50% of this acid in the body is in the skin. HA and collagen are vital to preserve the skin layers and structure:
- Collagen provides firmness to the skin
- Hyaluronic acid nourishes and hydrates collagen
The dermis (our skin) has a network of collagen fibers that move easily inside a viscous substance. Said substance is made of hyaluronic acid, keeping the collagen hydrated. This lubrication process allows the skin to adjust to the changes in its shape and volume when we move the bones and ligaments. The skin will stay young, soft, and elastic as long as it has high concentrations of hyaluronic acid. All of this will help us keep a healthy skin, which is why it is often used in beauty treatments and esthetic medicine.
From the age of 25, the natural production of hyaluronic acid starts to drop. Consequently, the skin becomes more flaccid gradually.
Then, it starts losing its elasticity, which is when the first wrinkles appear. When we reach the age of 40, a hyaluronic acid deficiency produces more or less deep winkles.
Factors that reduce the Hyaluronic Acid
- The passing of time
- UV radiation
- Environmental contaminants
These factors are related to a decrease of the amount of this acid in the skin and the cells lose their ability to produce it gradually. Moreover, the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid also drops which means that it will not store the water like it did before. What happens then? The skin becomes dry and it loses its ability to stay hydrated, which results in the onset of wrinkles.
There is no other biological substance that can retain as much water as HA and keep such level of hydration. The result is more softness and less wrinkles. Moreover, it also inhibits the activity of strange particles, like bacteria. Therefore, it supports our defenses and skin cleansing, since it creates a barrier against harmful agents.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the joints (elbows and knees)
Our joints (like the elbows and the knees) are surrounded by a membrane called the synovial membrane, which forms a capsule around the ends of the bones. This membrane releases a liquid called synovial fluid. Basically, the synovial fluid is found in the joint cavities.
Some of its many functions consists of lubricating, buffering, and transporting nutrients
Those who suffer arthritis have less hyaluronic acid in the joints. In these cases, one of the most frequent treatments consists of applying hyaluronic acid injections on the joint capsule.
What is the Synovial Liquid and what is its use?
Hyaluronic acid is the most active form of GAG (glycosaminoglycan, a type of polysaccharide) and it works as a buffer, helping to absorb impacts. Similarly, it keeps the joints lubricated. The synovial liquid is made of hyaluronic acid, a viscous substance that protects the joints and bones. Said fluid soaks the cartilage, a fibrous connective tissue. The cartilage is avascular, which means that it does not have blood vessels, so the synovial liquid will be the only way to transport the nutrients to said cartilage.
The synovial liquid also eliminates waste products, usually acid, which result from the destruction of the cartilage matrix. Therefore, it means that it also helps to relieve joint pain; working as a powerful antioxidant agent by neutralizing the harmful effects of the free radicals on the joint
As we grow old, the viscosity of the liquids drops and we start to experience joint problems: pain, stiffness, lack of mobility, injuries, infections, arthritis, arthrosis, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, tendinitis, etc. Taking a hyaluronic acid supplement can help to avoid or prevent this problems, since it is an essential element for the synovial fluid. Moreover, it works as a buffer for the joints and helps to transport nutrients for the cartilage.
Benefits of the treatments:
- Lubricating the joints
- Using glucose and amino acids to nourish the joint cartilage
- Helping to get rid of toxins and waste products
- Contributing to buffer the friction between joints
It allows our body to keep our backbone straight and support weight
This substance works on the backbone due to its ability to retain water. Said property is very important for all the tissues, specially the inter-vertebral disks of the backbone. Thanks to this substance, the body can keep the backbone straight and support any kind of weight.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the lips
The lips are a muscle covered by epithelial tissue. The dermal layer of the lips mainly consists of connective tissues, collagen and hyaluronic acid. These elements shape the structure and roundness to the lips.
HA mixes with water in order to create a gelatinous tissue that hydrates the surrounding tissue, keeping the collagen hydrated (responsible for the firmness of the skin).
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the hair
Structurally speaking, the scalp is identical to the skin tissue from the whole body. However, it also has around 100000 follicles that make up the hair. In fact, the hair and the follicle are a derivative of the skin tissue. We can mainly distinguish two layers of skin, the epidermis (external layer) which creates a protective screen for the body. On the other hand, we have the dermal layer (deeper layer), which makes up most of the skin and where we can find the hair follicle.
This dermal layer is a connective tissue that nourishes and hydrates the deepest layers of the scalp with its gelatinous liquid. The result is a healthy and bright hair and a hydrated scalp. Again, all of this is possible thanks to the presence of HA in the scalp.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for the gums
The properties of HA to preserve the mouth health are not that well-known. The gums are a dense and fibrous connective tissue (ligaments) that binds to the alveolar bone (jaw bone). Once again, the tissue is made of a fibrous tissue that is surrounded by hyaluronic acid (extracellular matrix).
Without HA, the gum tissue deteriorates. On the contrary, it will provide resistance to the traction of the ligaments that hold the teeth, providing hydration and nutrients. Consequently, our gums will be strong and healthy.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for eye health
There is a high percentage of HA inside the ocular globe. The liquid inside the eyes is called vitreous humor and it is made almost completely of hyaluronic acid. HA is like a viscous gel inside the eyes that buffers and also transports nutrients to the eyes.
Collagen with Hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid and collagen are two substances that are truly important for the organism. Actually, combining hem can be really beneficial. Collagen and hyaluronic acid have anti-aging properties that help to regenerate the cartilage and the bones. The microscopic fibers of collagen with hyaluronic acid provide the structure that gives strength and flexibility to the connective tissues of the body.
Taking collagen with hyaluronic acid is a great choice because both substances are in charge of providing hydration. In fact, they provide nutrients and help to regenerate the tissues.
Properties of collagen and hyaluronic acid
- Hydrating the skin
- Preventing/reducing the wrinkles and lines of expression
- Supporting the regeneration of joints and bone tissue
- Increasing the strength and flexibility of bones and soft tissues
Foods rich in hyaluronic acid
Some of the most popular foods that are rich in hyaluronic acid are:
- Chicken, turkey and duck are the meats (protein) with the highest hyaluronic acid content
- Salmon, sardines and tuna are the best fish sources of this acid
- Foods rich in magnesium, like vegetables: broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts or green beans
Hyaluronic Acid in capsules
There are many ways of taking this product (capsules, tablets, powder…). The hyaluronic acid supplements will allow you to preserve your joint and bone health, apart from improving the aspect of the skin, nails, and hair. It is advisable to combine it with hydrolyzed Collagen.
Hyaluronic acid in cream
The first signs of skin aging appear in our face, but it also affects the rest of the body.
To keep a young looking skin, people tend to use products, creams or gels that contain hyaluronic acid. There are also beauty treatments that consist of injecting the hyaluronic acid directly under the skin. However, this procedure only works on the area it has been applied and it can entail some risks. That is why creams are so successful, both in herbalist’s shops or beauty stores.
Side effects of hyaluronic acid
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- Moreno A, Martínez A, Olmedillas S, Bello S, de Miguel F. Hyaluronic acid effect on adipose-derived stem cells. Biological in vitro evaluation. Rev Esp Cir Ortop Traumatol. 2015 Jul-Aug;59(4):215-21. doi: 10.1016/j.recot.2014.10.004. Epub 2014 Dec 4.
- Figueroa D, Espinosa M, Calvo R, Scheu M, Valderrama JJ, Gallegos M, Conget P. [Treatment of acute full-thickness chondral defects with high molecular weight hyaluronic acid; an experimental model]. Rev Esp Cir Ortop Traumatol. 2014 Sep-Oct;58(5):261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.recot.2014.03.001. Epub 2014 Apr 13.