Hyaluronic acid. Its benefits for the skin and joints
Hyaluronic Acid is becoming increasingly popular in beauty and wellness treatments.
It is a component that is naturally present in your body, and that participates in the hydration of organs such as the skin and the lubrication of joints, bones and cartilage.
However, the passage of time and external factors affect us. Ultraviolet radiation and environmental pollutants reduce the percentage of hyaluronic acid in your body.
Because it is one of nature's most hydrophilic molecules, with numerous benefits to the human body, it is described as a "natural moisturizer".
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is a polysaccharide with a viscous texture. It plays a prominent role in the hydration and elasticity of tissues (especially our skin). It has the capacity to retain water in a percentage equivalent to thousands of times the weight of your body.
Despite being distributed throughout the body, it is most abundant in the skin, where 50% of the body's total hyaluronic acid is concentrated. Also in the cartilages and the joints, where it helps to maintain its functional properties.
It is also most concentrated in the fluids of the eyes. Its medical use is related to cataract removal, corneal transplantation, retinal detachment repair or other eye injuries.
What is Hyaluronic Acid good for?
It is a natural component that lubricates the joints and is widely distributed throughout the tissues and fluids of the body.
It plays a major role in the healing, cell regeneration and lubrication of joints and connective tissue. Having a good level of hyaluronic acid is important for keeping the tissues lubricated and moist throughout your body, especially in the skin and connective tissues of the joints.
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that also regulates tissue repair, including regulating the immune response. In addition, it also plays an important role in the formation of blood vessels.
Benefits and properties of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid acts as a shock absorber and lubricant in the joints and other tissues. Its presence, therefore, is essential to the molecular mechanisms as its production increases during tissue injury and wound healing. Irregular levels of this substance in the body can affect the way the body responds to injury.
Its properties are visible on the skin, hair and nails in terms of hydration, skin barrier structure and skin elasticity. Also in the lubrication of bones and joints.
For the skin
Almost half of the body's hyaluronic acid concentration is found in the skin layers, both deep and visible. Young skin is smooth and elastic and contains large amounts of hyaluronic acid that helps keep it visibly healthy, providing continuous moisture.
As we age, the production of key substances in the skin, including hyaluronic acid, which is the predominant component along with collagen and elastin, decreases. As a result, skin aging occurs. Our skin loses moisture and volume, and wrinkles of greater or lesser depth, expression lines, nasolabial folds or spots on the skin begin to appear.
Therefore, increasing the levels of hyaluronic acid through supplements or in creams and serums can contribute to the flexibility of the skin and improve its hydration, improving its capacity to attract and retain water molecules.
For the hair
Because of its moisturizing properties, hyaluronic acid can also help to improve the appearance of frizzy, dry and lackluster hair.
In its structure, the scalp is identical to the skin tissue located throughout the body, except that it contains hair follicles that give rise to hair.
The dermis (outer layer) and the epidermis (deeper layer) make up the layers of the skin, the latter being where the hair follicle is located. It is in this layer that hyaluronic acid plays a fundamental role, providing nutrition and hydration to the scalp, giving rise to shiny and healthy hair.
For bones and joints
Hyaluronic acid has two main functions in the joints, which are the nutrition of their structure along with the cushioning and lubrication of them. This is why one of its most common uses is in patients with osteoarthritis, with the management of osteoarthritis or knee arthrosis.
Therefore, increasing the levels of hyaluronic acid maintains the lubrication between bones and cartilage, decreasing the chances of stiffness and discomfort in the joints. When the joints are lubricated, the bones are less likely to rub against each other.
Other uses of Hyaluronic Acid
In addition to its benefits for the skin, hair or joints, hyaluronic acid, due to its presence in the body, can be used for other more localized parts:
It is useful for cataracts, mouth sores, or to relieve dry eyes, due to the body's ability to reabsorb them. It can also be useful in nasal surgeries, contributing to their proper healing.
Its use is very common in the aesthetic treatment of lip enlargement or the filling of wrinkles in the face, which should always performed by a specialist. These procedures provide an increased hydration in the desired area. The results are not permanent, after a few months, the effect will disappear because the skin will absorb the hyaluronic acid.
Increase their levels in your body
Hyaluronic Acid has a half-life of less than 3 days, and then it breaks down. For this reason, it is essential that the body replenishes it continuously.
In addition, the levels of this molecule decrease as one ages. Therefore, it can be beneficial to increase your intake through a good diet and with the help of supplements. In this way it benefits the lubrication of bones and joints, as well as the hydration of the skin.
How to get Hyaluronic Acid?
It is possible to increase the levels of this molecule in your body by incorporating it in the form of a food supplement to accompany your diet.
There are also serums and cosmetic creams that incorporate it because of its benefits for the skin and that are usually applied, mainly, to the skin of the face.
Are there any side effects?
As it is a naturally occurring component in the body, its use usually has no side effects if it is used correctly and in a controlled manner.
Therefore, it can be ingested either as a food supplement or applied to the skin in creams or serums and will rarely cause allergic reactions.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor as to whether or not to take it orally or apply it to the skin. Although it is mostly safe, its use should be monitored and you should always consult a professional.
Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen
As we see, as we age, the body loses the ability to retain water in the skin. Therefore, the skin becomes drier and more dehydrated, resulting in the appearance of wrinkles that are also caused by the breaking down of the collagen present in the body.
This means that the combination of hyaluronic acid and collagen incorporated into the diet can be particularly beneficial. Both hyaluronic acid, because of its high concentration in the skin, and collagen are vital for maintaining the skin's structure. It is the collagen that provides firmness to the skin, but it is the hyaluronic acid that nourishes and moisturizes the collagen, keeping it elastic and moist.
- Wong C., Verywell Health. The Health Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Supplements. Ene, 2020.
- WebMD. Hyaluronic Acid: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning.
- Papakonstantinou E., Roth M., and Karakiulakis G., Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Jul, 2012.