Last Updated: January 31st 2019
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is a molecule found in the body with a gel like structure which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. We each have around 15g in our bodies and approximately one third of this is used up and synthesized every day. Just as with other protective parts of the body, e.g. cartilage, our ability to synthesize Hyaluronic Acid from our food declines with age. It is estimated that by our late 40s our ability to synthesize it effectively halves therefore we are not able to produce enough to satisfy the body's needs.
The Japanese Village of Long Life
While Hyaluronic Acid was discovered in 1934, it was a Japanese village called Yuzurihara which brought it to the forefront of research.
The World Health Organization conducted research of 990 villages and towns in Japan. Of those villages and town surveyed by The World Health Organization, it was found that there were 10 times more people living beyond the age of 85 in Yuzurihara, than there were in North America.
Both men and women in their 80s and 90s have smooth wrinkle free skin, flexible joints, full heads of hair and activity levels that defy their age. 80-year-olds can look as young as 50; and reportedly one 93-year-old resident has worked in the sun for 50 years sans sunblock or moisturiser and yet still has a soft, smooth, healthy complexion.
Unlike most regions of Japan that grow rice, the hilly terrain is better suited to growing different carbohydrates. The reason for the amazing physical attributes of the people in this village was traced to oestrogen-like molecules obtained from their diet, which send signals to their cells to make more Hyaluronic Acid.
Hyaluronic Acid belongs to a group of compounds known as glycosaminoglycans of which glucosamine is the most well known. These compounds help you build stronger, healthier and more flexible joints. It is one of the most active of these compounds. It is a major component of synovial fluid, the purpose of which is to reduce friction between the joint cartilages, it works as a shock absorber lubricating the fluid in the joint tissues as well as stabilising its breakdown.
Almost half of the body’s Hyaluronic Acid is located in the collagen of skin. No other biological substance can retain as much water as Hyaluronic Acid which means it is an excellent moisturiser which results smooth, soft skin and fewer wrinkles. As a skin care treatment it is now considered equally important, if not more important, than collagen.
When your skin becomes sunburnt its cells stop producing as much Hyaluronic Acid and increases its rate of ageing.
Most plastic surgery filler procedures involve the use of Hyaluronic Acid but they are expensive and don't last as the body breaks down the Hyaluronic Acid therefore the procedure needs to be repeated in order to remain effective.
The first Hyaluronic Acid medical product was manufactured for use in eye surgery to speed up the healing process following surgery. It is found in the vitreous fluid in the eyes and helps to give them their shape. Since Hyaluronic Acid lubricates the eye tissues, it is considered to be beneficial for people suffering from dry eyes.
Hyaluronic Acid is an important connective tissue component in the gums. It helps to regenerate fresh and healthy gum tissue as well as reducing any inflammation that leads to bleeding gums.
Where can I get Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is now often included in many facial creams, but it can also be purchased as a hyaluronic acid supplement.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.