Hyaluronic Acid, What you need to know
An ESSENTIAL for Younger, Healthier looking skin
I don’t know about you, but Hyaluronic Acid is one of those ingredients that seems to have sprung up in everything to do with skin care and anti-ageing, but no one seems to tell us why we might need it and how best to get it.
The HA Lowdown
HA is actually a kind of sugar and works mostly in the body as a kind of lubricant. Think of it as engine oil for the joints and cartilage…. It forms a sort of coat around cells which cushions them and helps them slide over each other.
HA is also a major ingredient of healthy skin, where it helps with wound healing and repairing tissue.
Like all sugars, HA absorbs water, and this is where the magic happens. Each molecule of Hyaluronic Acid can absorb up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, plumping itself up and becoming a lovely protective cushion. That plumpness under the skin, resulting in reduced fine lines and wrinkles and a youthful looking face.
It is mostly found at the base of the epidermis (the thin outer layer of the skin) where it props up the skin and also helps fight off those damaging free-radicals.
Like so many other nutrients, our body produces less HA as we age. Similarly to collagen, the decrease in production doesn’t affect us too much while we’re young, but speeds up significantly during middle age and menopause.
SO WHAT CAN WE DO…
There are 5 main ways to support HA in the body.
Hyaluronic acid is a very large molecule.
This means that it is virtually impossible for HA to be absorbed through the skin to any great depth. Products containing HA can help with increasing moisture on the top of the epidermis. If the product contains HA with smaller molecules, then it might penetrate a bit further, but it cannot get any deeper than the outer epidermis levels. However, they can still capture hydration on the surface of the skin and give you an appearance of plumpness, but obviously that will only last as long as you keep using the product.
Hyaluronic acid is commonly used for both fillers and newer injectables such as Profhilo. The main difference is whether the HA is cross-linked or not. Cross-linked HA is more solid and used for fillers. Non cross-linked HA is more liquid and will spread out to form a cushioning layer underneath the skin. Both procedures can last for between 6 to 12 months, depending on how fast you degrade the HA.
Foods that actually contain HA can only come from animal foods. One of the best sources is bone broth, where bones have been boiled down for several hours. If you are interested in learning more about bone broth, I highly recommend the book ‘Brodo’ by Marco Canora to get you started or give you ideas for flavours. And of course, you need to make sure any bones you are using must be from organic, grass-fed animals to avoid any antibiotics or other nasties creeping in. As well as broth though, another way to support your hyaluronic acid levels is to consume foods that decrease the activity of the enzymes that break down HA. That way it stays in the body longer. These are foods that contain magnesium or something called naringenin. Several foods contain magnesium and many people are deficient in it. Think about including dark green vegetables such as kale and broccoli; nuts and seeds and hip, hip, hooray… dark chocolate, which is chock full of magnesium. Naringenin is probably something you haven’t heard of before, but it’s contained in oranges, other citrus fruits and tomatoes so all in all it’s a good reason to include lots of colour on your plate.
Hyaluronic acid supplements exist in several forms – capsules, soft gels and tablets. If you are using them for osteoarthritis or joint problems, you might want to look for one that also contains chondroitin and glucosamine. If it’s for anti-ageing, then you might want to look for ones with added vitamin C, biotin, copper and zinc.
Look at the amounts. Most studies where hyaluronic acid had a noticeably positive result use between 100-200 mg of HA per daily dose. Whereas most supplements contain a lot less than that.
Finally, you want to look at the source of the HA. There are vegan or vegetarian ones out there, so make sure you get one that is appropriate for you.
When the skin is exposed to too much UVB radiation, it becomes inflamed, stops producing hyaluronic acid and actually accelerates its breakdown.
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