Hyaluronic acid, otherwise known as Hyaluronan or Hyaluronate, is available in a wide range of health products, from capsules and injectables, to skin creams and other skin care cosmetics. It’s a gel-like molecule that is exceptional at retaining water, helping to keep the skin moisturised, as well as a cushioning agent and space filler, helping to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles.
It was originally discovered by Karl Meyer in 1934 and began to become mainstream when a reporter visited a Japanese village to investigate why the elderly residents of the village had smooth, wrinkle free skin, flexible joints and full heads of hair, despite their age.
After investigating, it was found that their heavily soya and tofu based diet contained high numbers of oestrogen-like molecules that worked to send signals to the brain, inducing heightened Hyalouronic acid in their bodies.
Our bodies contain around 15 grams of Hyalouronic acid on average and this is distributed throughout the entire body, with Hyalouronic acid being found in almost every part. Studies into the substance have revealed the wide range of benefits it brings, including acting as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, maintaining skin elasticity, cushions of joints and nerve tissues, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, maintaining eye tissue fluids, along with numerous others.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Skin: Approximately half of the body’s naturally occurring Hyaluronic acid can be found in the skin. Its main action here is to retain moisture in the skin, as it’s capable of holding as much as 1000 times its own weight in water.
In fact, there is no other biological substance than comes close to retaining as much water as Hyaluronic acid, making it one of the useful ingredients for skin smoothing, skin softening and for decreasing wrinkles. Another equally important function of Hyaluronic acid is to help in the removal of waste matter from skin cells as well as to make shedding dead skin cells easier.
When it comes to anti-ageing, Hyaluronic acid is now widely considered to be as important, if not more so, than Collagen.
Joints: Most people have heard of glucosamine supplements, and their use in treating the symptoms of arthritic conditions. Glucosamine is one of a family of compounds known as glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs. These compounds work to make your joints stronger, healthier and more flexible.
Hyaluronic acid is one of these GAGs, in fact it is the most active, working like a shock absorber, lubricating the join tissues and stabilising their breakdown. In addition to this action, it also helps to efficiently remove waste products from the joints that form with the destruction of the cartilage matrix.
It also works as an antioxidant, contributing further to joint health by protecting them from free radicals within the body.
Eyes: Hyaluronic acid is found within the vitreous fluid of the eyes, and helps to give the eyes their shape and characteristics. The first medical product to contain hyaluronic acid was developed for eye surgery, helping to speed up the healing process following cataract surgery and as part of treatment for glaucoma. It’s also used to treat dry eyes, as hyaluronic acid lubricates eye tissue. Hyaluronic acid can also be found in a number of supplements designed to help with eyesight, working to restore the hyaluronic acid that is lost from the eye tissues as we age.
Gum Disease: Gum disease is a common problem, affecting as many as 3 out of 4 adults over the age of 35 and is the single biggest cause of tooth loss, even more so than tooth decay. Hyaluronic acid is a key component of the connective tissues found in the gum and is essential to the regeneration of these tissues. It also acts as an important anti-inflammatory for the gums, helping to reduce any bleeding and other indicators of gum disease.
In addition to the benefits Hyaluronic acid brings to these specific areas of the body, it’s also been attributed with more general benefits and properties, including wound healing, increased energy, relief from dry skin, improved muscular strength and increased mental alertness.