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Introduction

Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that naturally occurs in every connective tissue and organ in the body, providing structural and biochemical support for surrounding cells.

In particular, the skin has the largest quantity of hyaluronic acid in the body, with 50% of all stores found in this tissue.

It is for this reason that hyaluronic acid is consistently linked to skin health, wrinkles, and is even used in cosmetic procedures such as dermal “fillers”.

This substance has now even been termed “nature’s moisturizer”, due to its large presence of hydrophilic molecules – attracted and absorbed by water.

In recent years, the intake of oral hyaluronic acid supplements has skyrocketed, due to consumers attempting to find a cutaneous anti-aging treatment without the need for surgery.

Health Benefits

Below is a list of all the health benefits we’ve confirmed that are backed by science:

1. May Act as an Anti-Wrinkle Treatment

Skin changes seen with aging are mainly due to a loss of hydration, elasticity, and rigidity.

Hyaluronic acid has been studied as an anti-wrinkle treatment as it is highly present in skin cells and can bind up to 6000 times its volume in water, thus potentially influencing skin hydration.

This is especially important as during the aging process there is a constant decline in hyaluronic acid content in the body. A 75 year old has just 25% of the hyaluronic acid in their skin compared to a 19-year-old! [1].

However, initial speculation assumed that hyaluronic acid could not be efficiently absorbed in the gut.

Despite this, experimental and clinical trials state that hyaluronic acid is able to be decomposed by intestinal bacteria and actively absorbed in the body to various tissues, including the skin [2].

These same studies report that hyaluronic acid supplementation can significantly improve the appearance of crow’s feet wrinkles after 8 weeks in people over 30 years old. This length of time has also shown in other studies to significantly decrease maximum wrinkle depth in multiple wrinkle ‘spots’ [3].

By use of replica image analysis, and through subjective questionnaires, hyaluronic acid supplementation can even improve skin suppleness and glow [4].

The mechanism in which oral hyaluronic acid supplementation works is not exactly known. However, the main suggestion is that this substance can increase the number of cells within skin connective tissue, as well as promote the synthesis of hyaluronic acid within these cells [5].

As hyaluronic acid also has a high water retention, it is thought to suppress the appearance of wrinkles by retaining great amounts of moisture in these problem areas [6].

Potentially, this substance may also counteract aging processes by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent that scavenges free radicals scavenging and stops them having a harmful effect of the skin from chronic levels of inflammation. This area needs to be examined further for clarification.

2. May Reduce UV Damage

In animal studies, supplementation of hyaluronic acid for 6 weeks is able to decrease the damage caused from UV irradiation [7].

This is important for skin health as wrinkles are often formed under the influence of great amounts of UV damage [8].

Keep in mind that this supplement should not replace the use of sunscreen.

3. May Relieve Joint Pain

Despite nearly all hyaluronic acid research being focused on the skin, studies have also investigated its effects on the joints where it is naturally present to keep the space between the bones well lubricated.

As it has this physiological role, hyaluronic acid within the body is helpful for preventing bones from grinding against each other and cause pain.

In addition, studies show that additional hyaluronic acid supplementation can be helpful for people suffering from osteoarthritis – a type of degenerative joint disease caused by wear and tear on the joints.

Supplementation for only 2 months seems to reduce pain in problematic joints, especially in individuals over the age of 40 [9].

Further, not only can it reduce pain, but scientific reviews state that it may relieve joint inflammation, increase joint lubrication, and protect cartilage cells [10]. These benefits are likely able to improve the muscular strength of a joint [11], and may be related to why hyaluronic acid supplementation is able to improve bone density [12].

How to Take?

Based on the fact that the rate at which the skin produces new cells is said to be ~28 days, it is logical to assume that for the oral ingestion of hyaluronic acid needs to be continual to see continuous benefits [13].

Based on human studies that have seen significant results for skin and joint health, and considering the safety range for the supplement, it is advised to consume 50-200mg daily.

Users may need to wait 1-2 months to notice any visible or physical improvements.

In addition, some evidence, although very limited, suggests that hyaluronic acid may have enhanced effects when combined with other compounds such as zinc, copper, biotin, and vitamin C.

Safety and Side Effects

Hyaluronic acid supplementation is considered safe for humans when the dosage is at 200mg per day or less – at least for 12 months [14] [15].

Allergic reactions and side effects are rare, although some reports side effects are:

  • Joint pain, stiffness, or swelling
  • Itching, numbness, or tingling
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Back pain

The only real safety concern noted in the scientific literature is that it may accelerate cancer growth, as cancer cells are sensitive to the presence of hyaluronic acid [16]. However, this data is by no means conclusive and is only speculated at this point.

It is advised that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid hyaluronic acid supplementation as there is no research in this population to guarantee its safety. A cautious approach in this scenario is recommended.

Conclusion

Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that naturally occurs in every connective tissue and organ in the body, providing structural and biochemical support for surrounding cells.

In particular, the skin has the largest quantity of hyaluronic acid in the body, with 50% of all stores found in this tissue.

Hyaluronic acids main benefit is to reduce the appearance of wrinkles that are common with aging by aiding normal skin function and retaining great amounts of moisture within connective tissues.

Another key benefit is that it may reduce joint pain in those that suffer with osteoarthritis, likely because it can increase joint lubrication and protect cartilage cells.

It is advised to consume 50-200mg daily. Hyaluronic acid is considered safe for humans when the dosage is at 200mg per day or less.

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This article has been reviewed and fact-checked by a certified nutritionist, and only uses information from credible academic sources.