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What is Hyaluronic Acid and Why Do We Need It?

What is hyaluronic acid?

Promoted as the “fountain of youth”,  hyaluronic acid (also referred to as hyaluronan and hyaluronate) is found in every cell of the body and in the highest concentrations in the fluid in the eyes and joints. Some people take hyaluronic acid orally to help with joint disorders or have it injected directly into the joints as its main function is to cushion and lubricate. It is extracted from rooster combs or synthesized in a laboratory.

Why is it used in dermal fillers?

Roughly 50% of the Hyaluronic Acid in our body is found in the skin. Hyaluronic acid is a gel-like water-holding molecule that can carry 500-1000 times its weight in water and has been scientifically proven to improve skin hydration, stimulate collagen production, act as an antioxidant and maintain elasticity in the skin. HA pulls water through the gaps in our skin cells where it combines with protein to form protein gels. Many dermal fillers such as Restylane ® and Juvederm ® products are made from HA as the body accepts it readily and it has this ability to hold water and replace lost volume in the skin naturally. The skin noticeably improves where Hyaluronic acid fillers have been injected into it and under it.

An analogy of the function of HA and collagen in the skin

“Imagine the collagen as the stretchy fibers that restore the skin back to shape when stretched. Collagen is like a rubber band but stretch that rubber band a million times, like what we do with our skin and without any moisture. Eventually that rubber band gets overstretched (saggy) and dried out and will most likely break. This is much the same way the collagen in our skin reacts leaving our skin in need of moisture. Now imagine that same rubber band stretched a million times while under water the whole time. Chances of that rubber band drying out and breaking are minimal. Consider the Hyaluronic Acid as the water that keeps the collagen moist and elastic. Collagen is continuously surrounded and nourished by the gelatinous HA substance. Young skin is smooth and highly elastic because it contains high concentrations of Hyaluronic Acid, which helps skin stay healthy.” (Source: http://www.hyalogic.com/main/about_hyaluronic_acid)

Most people have roughly 15 grams of hyaluronic acid in their body, however, with the aging process we steadily lose HA and by the time we reach our mid-forties we are left with about half of what is required by the body. Women going through menopause notice a decline in the quality of their skin thickness and hydration because reduced estrogen levels also mean decreasing HA.

restylane-before-after-margie

(Results vary by individual patient and  results cannot be guaranteed)

So why don’t we all just load up on HA?

Why not indeed? The internet is full of reviews praising the results of taking HA orally. However, just as with taking any new supplement, you should talk to your doctor first, particularly if you have been prescribed diuretics for high blood pressure or medications for blood thinning.  If you do get the go-ahead, it is reported that an average adult should take 50-60mg of hyaluronic acid once or twice per day with meals.

Are there any foods that contain HA?

Yes, organ meats such as liver and gizzards, starchy root vegetables, including Satsumaimo (a type of sweet potato), Konyaku (a type of gletanious root), Satoima (a type of sticky potato), are known to stimulate the body’s natural production of HA.

Soy is a good non-meat option, too, as it raises the level of estrogen which also raises the level of HA. Fruit, seeds, nuts and foods rich in magnesium will assist in the synthesis of HA.

You may have seen this report on a Japanese village who ate a diet rich in these foods, exercised  and who enjoyed excellent health and radiant skin well into their 90s:


What about skincare containing HA?

The general consensus is that using topical hyaluronic acid in skincare products and make up can have significant moisturizing effects and will certainly plump your skin while you are using it. If you are looking for age-reversing ingredients, retinols, antioxidants such as vitamins C&E and growth factors still need to be included in your regime. The advantage to skin care with HA is that it is suited for every skin type. If you have oily skin, a Hyaluronic acid serum may be all the moisturizer you need!

View a list of excellent skin care products containing HA.

 

by M. Wally

Age is a state of mind. Aging is a treatable condition.

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