I wrote several blogs about supplements, herbs, and natural remedies that I take or experiment with. I am interesting in slowing down aging and want to live a long, fulfilling life devoid of illnesses, diseases, and health problems. The blogs are:
- The Power of Herbs, Supplements, and Natural Remedies – explains which herbs I take and why I take them.
- Everything You Wanted To Know About Hyaluronic Acid
- The Power of Grape Seeds
- The Health Benefits of Resveratrol
- The Ancient Chinese Mushroom – Lingzhi
- The Super Antioxidant – Astaxanthin
- The Super Nutrient – Spirulina
Hyaluronic acid is also called Glycoaminoglycan, Glycoaminoglycane, Hyaluran, Hyaluronan, Hyaluronate Sodium, Hylan, and Sodium Hyaluronate.
I wrote this blog, so people have access to comprehensive, nontechnical information about hyaluronic acid. I believe hyaluronic acid provides many health benefits to users. I am not a medical expert, and information in the blog does not replace or supersede care from a doctor or medical expert. Please consult your doctor If you are taking prescription medication. Hyaluronic acid may interfere with your prescription medicine.
Meyer and Palmer discovered hyaluronic acid (HA) in 1934. Our human bodies produce hyaluronic acid naturally. It holds water and forms a gel-like substance. Before the 1980's, scientists referred to hyaluronic acid as the "goo" molecule. Hyaluronic acid hydrates the skin and hair, and fills the eyes. Even tissues around our nerves and the synovial fluid between our joints contain hyaluronic acid. This fluid lubricates and cushions the joints, thus reducing friction. Furthermore, hyaluronic acid acts as a shock absorber in our joint tissues. Finally, hyaluronic acid helps the body create new cells and removes wastes from cells including cells with little blood circulation.
Every person has roughly 15 grams of hyaluronic acid with the highest concentrations in the fluids in the eyes and joints. Every day, 1/3 of our hyaluronic acid degrades that the body synthesizes and replaces. By the time we reach our mid-40s, our bodies are producing half the hyaluronic acid that we require.
Our skin, the largest organ in the body, comprises roughly 15% of our body weight. We find almost half the body's hyaluronic acid in the collagen of the skin. Both hyaluronic acid and collagen are important because they maintain the skin's layers and structure. Collagen firms the skin while hyaluronic acid nourishes and hydrates the collagen. Thus, hyaluronic acid retains the water, keeping the collagen moist and elastic. Moreover, hyaluronic acid makes an excellent moisturizer because it retains 1,000 times its weight in water within the skin's cells. Thus, no other biological substance can retain as much water as hyaluronic acid making our skin smooth and soft with few wrinkles.
Young people possess plump, smooth, and highly elastic skin because they have high concentrations of hyaluronic acid that maintains healthy skin. As we grow older, the body produces less hyaluronic acid, causing the hyaluronic acid concentration in the skin to fall. Thus, the skin retains and holds less water while the membranes covering our internal organs and joints shrink. Moreover, the skin becomes drier and thinner while it loses its hydration. After age 40, aging becomes visible as our skin loses elasticity, forming lines and wrinkles.
We can use hyaluronic acid to slow down the aging process, or at least hide the direct effects of aging. Hyaluronic acid fills the space by binding with water, maintaining wrinkle-free skin. When taken as oral supplements, the hyaluronic acid can improve collagen production, slowing down (possibly) the aging process.
Companies making skin moisturizers, creams, and lotions recently added hyaluronic acid as an ingredient. Then we apply the cream or lotion to our most wrinkle prone areas, such as under our eyes, smile lines, and forehead. Hyaluronic acid freely penetrates the skin and can carry other ingredients deep into the bottom layer of the skin. Hyaluronic acid as an active ingredient in cosmestic products hydrates the skin making it smoother, more radiant, and relieve dryness. Although the skin may feel softer and look smoother with regular use, the majority of wrinkles and deep folds will remain regardless how often a person applies the cream to the face.
When applied to the skin, hyaluronic acid may not be as potent and may not yield the same results as an injection. Creams and lotion work best for fine lines around the eyes and on the forehead. After applying hyaluronic acid to the skin, stay out of direct sunlight for at least one hour. People can use creams and lotions at night before going to bed. The company Hylunia produces pure hyaluronic acid and sells it to exclusive spas and internet customers.
The most effective use for hyaluronic acid on the face is injecting it into deep wrinkles. Dermatologists, doctors, and cosmetic surgeons can inject hyaluronic acid into the skin to plump up severe wrinkles or eliminate skin imperfections. It binds with water molecules in the cells and adds volume to lift and smooth wrinkles.
Doctors use Restylane that contains hyaluronic acid, and it is the only FDA-approved wrinkle filler on the market. Although treatment can be expensive, the procedure is noninvasive with a quick recovery time. After the initial injection, the body assimilates and consumes the hyaluronic acid within six months. Subsequently, patients need repeated injections to keep wrinkles at bay.
Plastic surgeons can use hyaluronic acid to fill and thicken the lips. The lips are skeletal muscle covered by skin tissue. The lips are composed of connective tissue with hyaluronic acid and collagen giving the lips their shape and plumpness. The hyaluronic acid holds water forming a gelatinous fluid that moisturizes the surrounding tissue and keeps the collagen nourished and healthy. Hyaluronic acid protects our lips from the environment, giving us healthy, well-hydrated, and plump lips.
We find hyaluronic acid in our body joints. It improves bone density, strengthens muscle, and reduces fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a common form of arthritis that does not involve the joints. Sufferers experience achy pain, tenderness, and stiffness of their muscles. Many use glucosamine supplements to treat arthritis and treat minor joint disorders.
Researchers include glucosamine into a group of chemical substances known as glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). These substances build healthier and stronger joints that are more flexible. One of the most active GAGs is hyaluronic acid, and it also lubricates the fluid in the joint tissues, prevents the fluid from breaking down, and absorbs shocks. We expose our joints such as the knees and spinal column to stress and pressure on a regular basis. Hyaluronic acid forms protective mesh-like molecules around cells, giving connective tissue rigidity, viscosity and elasticity. Furthermore, it removes waste products, often acidic in nature, arising from the destruction of the cartilage and hence easing joint pain. As an antioxidant, it supports joint health by protecting joint destruction from free radicals. Free radicals are charged, oxygen molecules that damages body tissue. Thus, antioxidants neutralize the free radicals.
Some doctors use hyaluronic acid to treat arthritis and osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the cartilage chronically breaks down in the joints with the most common being arthritis that begins in middle age. Hyaluronic acid reduces inflammation, restore joint fluids, relieves pain, and defends the cartilage from breaking down in osteoarthritis patients. Patients can take hyaluronic acid orally and/or the doctors inject hyaluronic directly in the affected knees and joints. Although treatment can be expensive, the patient must return to the doctor for repeated injections because the body breaks down and absorbs the hyaluronic acid.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved hyaluronic acid for treating osteoarthritis, but patients experience different results. Some patients report a moderate improvement in joint stiffness and reduced pain with hyaluronic acid treatment while others feel no pain relief. Unfortunately, no one knows whether hyaluronic acid might delay or lessen progressive joint damage with the long-term use.
Hyaluronic acid does not cure everything. It may not help patients who are recovering from knee arthroscopy. Arthroscopy is a doctor examines and repairs a joint by cutting a small incision into it. Through a study, hyaluronic acid failed to reduce pain or improve the functioning in the patients when compared to a control. Thus, researchers do not recommend patients take hyaluronic acid after knee arthroscopy.
Eyes contain hyaluronic acid in the vitreous fluid, giving them their shape and characteristics. Since hyaluronic acid lubricates the eye tissues, people can take oral supplements of hyaluronic acid to relieve dry eyes and improve their eyesight. As we age, the eye tissues lose hyaluronic acid even though hyaluronic acid supports the eye structures.
Doctors inject hyaluronic acid into the eye during eye surgery such as removing cataracts, treating glaucoma, transplanting corneas, repairing detached retinas, or operating on other eye injuries. Moreover, hyaluronic acid hastens the healing process after surgery.
Dense fibrous connective tissues form our gums, and thus, these tissues secure the teeth to the jawbone. Of course, this tissue contains hyaluronic acid that helps regenerate fresh healthy gum tissue, nourishes the tissues, provides hydration, and reduces inflammation. Without hyaluronic acid, our gum tissue would become unhealthy and could bleed.
Largest cause of tooth loss originates from gum disease and not tooth decay. Gum disease strikes every 3 out of 4 adults in the United Kingdom over the age of 35. Several studies show people applying hyaluronic acid as a gel, called Gengigel helps reduce bleeding gums and other problems of gum disease.
People have claimed hyaluronic acid supplements can treat the following health problems or improve their quality of life:
- Boost energy and reduce chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Increase mental alertness.
- Reduces chronic pain.
- Alleviate insomnia.
- Enhances sexual function.
- Repairs joints.
- Accelerates wound healing, reduces scarring, and heals ulcers when applied directly to the skin.
- Heal mouth sores, when applied directly to the sores as a gel.
People with large amounts of hyaluronic acid in their bodies look younger and live longer. Some believe hyaluronic acid slows the effects of aging, and they promote it as the "fountain of youth." However, we do not know whether taking it by mouth or applying it on the skin can slow down aging.
Connie Chung in an episode of ABC News (Youtube clip) showed people in the village of Yuzurihara, Japan - a village two hours away from Tokyo. She investigated why men and women in their 80's and 90's had full heads of hair, flexible joints, smooth, and wrinkle-free skin, who participated in activities that defied their age. Some smoked cigarettes heavily while others labored outside in the fields for years under the sun without sunscreen. They possessed skin that looked as smooth as a baby's behind.
Doctors could not explain the good health and youthful appearance of the villagers with good genetics or living the perfect lifestyle. Their sons and daughters moved to America and adopted a Westernized diet. Then they became obese, appeared older, developed obesity and other chronic health problems that proves they did not inherit good genes.
The locals in Yuzurihara, of course, consume different foods than other areas of Japan. Some scientists believe villagers eat unique foods that enhance their body's production of hyaluronic acid. They consume a rich diet in potatoes such as satoimo (sticky potatoes), satsumaimo, the root vegetable konnyaku, and the potato root imoji. They also consumed little meat.
Progeria, also called Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome, causes premature aging in infants. Although extremely rare, it strikes about one in ten million individuals. Scientists do not believe parents pass this disease genetically from the parents to the offspring. Currently, genetic and biochemical causes of progeria remain unknown.
Children suffering from progeria experience hair loss, reduce fat in the skin, skin wrinkling, severe atherosclerosis, and skeletal abnormalities including osteoporosis. Osteoporosis occurs as the bones lose tissue causing fragile and porous bones while atherosclerosis is fat deposits collect and buildup in the artery walls of the blood system. The afflicted also suffer from growth retardation and other problems not associated with aging, but their mental development appears normal. Patients' cells appear to have trouble replicating. Progeria patients usually succumb by their early teens from complications of atherosclerosis.
Researchers have noticed a physiological abnormality associated of progeria - patients excrete high levels of hyaluronic acid in the urine. As we become older, we expel more hyaluronic acid in our urine, although not the large levels we observe in progeria patients. They suffer from a defect in their hyaluronic acid metabolism that disrupts many developmental pathways.
Boosting Hyaluronic Acid Production
I do not want to depend entirely on supplements and pills for hyaluronic acid. I wanted to know whether some foods contain hyaluronic acid or whether some foods can encourage the body to produce more hyaluronic acid naturally. According to the researchers, vegetables do not contain hyaluronic acid, but several vitamins and minerals help the body boost production of hyaluronic acid. The vegetables are the same ones that nutritionists have always recommended we eat.
Connective Tissues and Chicken Combs
Since we find hyaluronic acid in the connective tissues of animals, we can eat the connective tissues of animals to provide our bodies with hyaluronic acid. The chicken's skin, whether attached or in a broth, contains a high source of hyaluronic acid. If people do not want chicken broth, then they can utilize tendons, bones, or skin of most animals to make a broth. They just boil the parts in water and drink the broth for the hyaluronic acid.
Chicken combs contain 60 to 70% hyaluronic acid. In central Asia, the Soviet Koreans make a delicacy from the chicken combs. Unfortunately, the molecules for hyaluronic acid become too long for the body to absorb in the intestinal tract. However, the Japanese developed a process to reduce the molecular weight so the body can absorb it.
Our bodies need magnesium to synthesize hyaluronic acid. Thus, we must eat foods rich in magnesium. Vegetable sources include asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, green lettuce, peanuts, potatoes, soy, spinach, and carrots. We talk about carrots further under retinoids. Some fruits are rich in magnesium, including apples, bananas, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, and pears, pineapples, strawberries, and tomatoes. Finally, several beans and nuts are good sources for magnesium, such as kidney beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, peanuts, and almonds.
Grape skins and red wine contain resveratrol – a phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogens behave like estrogen in our bodies, helping to produce more hyaluronic acid. Resveratrol can boost the body's production of hyaluronic acid.
Vitamin A refers to a number of related compounds that we call retinoids. They include retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. Some researchers view retinoids as potential anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds. Furthermore, retinoic acid encourages the body to produce more hyaluronic acid, potentially doubling the hyaluronic acid in the skin's epidermis.
Although people can take synthetic and supplemental forms, experts think getting essential nutrients through a daily diet is the best way to meet the body's needs. We can easily obtain retinoids through a well-balanced diet because they occur naturally in several animal and plant sources. Retinoids aid proper vision, resist infection, regulate gene expression, and facilitate bone growth and red blood cell production. On the other hand, people deficient in retinoid can suffer from night blindness, skin problems, and a weakened immune system. Dieticians recommend adults age 19 and older take 3,000 international units for men and 2,333 international units for women.
Scientists and experts are studying the role of retinoids in preventing cancer. For example, several research studies show retinoids can prevent normal cells from becoming cancer cells. However, people taking vitamin A supplements may not reduce their risk of cancer. Researchers believe the consumption of foods rich in vitamin A reduces the risk of several cancers and prevent diseases because the retinoids work with other nutrients in fruits and vegetables.
Animal and Dairy Sources of Retinoids
Several animal sources can provide a substantial amount of retinoids with the richest sources being beef liver. Other sources having considerably less include eggs, cod liver oil, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese. For instance, 100 grams of pan-fired beef liver contains 26,088 international units of vitamin A, which exceeds the daily requirement greatly. On the other hand, one large egg provides 303 international units of vitamin A.
Plant Sources for Retinoids
The body can convert carotenoids, such as beta-carotene into retinoids. For example, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, pumpkins, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, and mangoes contain significant amounts of beta-carotene, thus retinoids. Dark leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, and spinach also contain significant sources of beta-carotene even though the green chlorophyll masks the orange and yellow from the beta-carotene. For instance, one-half cup of canned sweet potatoes provides 1,848 international units of vitamin A. A one-half cup of cooked spinach provides 1,572 international units of vitamin A, while the same serving of broccoli provides 200 international units.
Soybeans contain high levels of phytoestrogens. (Did you notice estrogen in the name?) Soybean products include soybean curd, soy cheese, soy ice cream, soymilk, soy yogurt, tempeh, and tofu.
The Yuzurihara Diet
The villagers ate a rich diet in satsumaimo (a type of sweet potato), satoimo (a sticky white potato), konnyaku root (gelatinous concoction of root vegetable), and imoji (a potato root).
People with zinc deficiencies produce low levels of hyaluronic acid. Foods rich in zinc include beans, brown rice, peanuts, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, and yeasts.
Since hyaluronic acid is one of the most water-loving molecules in nature, they refer to it as "nature's moisturizer." Hyaluronic acid can absorb over 1,000 times it weight in water letting it hydrate the skin and other cell tissues that it contacts. Furthermore, water carries waste away from your cells. Consequently, we should drink from eight to ten glasses of pure water every day because hyaluronic acid functions better if we fully hydrate our bodies. Hyaluronic acid in the correct quantities raises the fluid between the cells, creating a smoother, moisturized skin, by binding with the water molecules.
Just remember, coffee acts as a minor diuretic, helping the body eliminate excess fluids through the urine. Consequently, drinking coffee does not count towards the eight to ten glasses of water.
Avoiding the sun
Exposing oneself to the sun, the ultraviolet radiation from the sun's rays may destroy the hyaluronic acid in the skin. During the aging process coupled with excessive sun exposure, our skin cells slow down the production of hyaluronic acid, or simply change how it functions in the body.
As the video shows in Yuzurhara, Japan, many residents retained smooth wrinkled-free skin even those working in the fields under the sun. The hyaluronic acid may scavenge the oxidants and free radicals caused by ultraviolet radiation. Oxidants and free radicals are charged molecules that damage tissues and cells.
Since we do not know whether sun exposure destroys hyaluronic acid, people can cover exposed body parts or wear sunscreen containing zinc or Mexoryl SX daily. Both zinc and Mexoryl SX block the entire spectrum of ultraviolet rays. Even on cloudy days, ultraviolet rays penetrate through the clouds.
Do not forget to wear good sunglasses with the label "100% UV absorption." The sunglasses protect the eyes and prevent damaged and wrinkled skin around the eyes. People may also want to avoid the ultraviolet tanners.
Cortisol or Hydrocortisone
Many people use cortisol or hydrocortisone to reduce inflammation and inhibit cell growth. They prevent the breakdown of hyaluronic acid at low doses and stop the body from producing hyaluronic acid at large doses. If people are taking large doses of hyaluronic acid, they may want to avoid products containing cortisol and hydrocortisone.
Dosage Level and Warnings
People can buy supplements and take hyaluronic acid orally. Our bodies can absorb the small molecule chains in the intestinal tract. Hyaluronic acid forms no covalent bonds to proteins or sulfates, so the body does not mount an immune response against it. Either the pharmaceutical companies extract hyaluronic acid from rooster combs or they utilize bacteria in the laboratory to produce it.
Most people can take hyaluronic acid safely, but we do not know enough about the long term use of hyaluronic acid. People who are allergic to poultry or poultry products, such as eggs should avoid hyaluronic acid and its products. Hyaluronic acid rarely causes allergic reactions except some patients experienced a skin rash, pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site. Moreover, some patients felt increased pressure in their eyes after eye surgery. These reactions usually clear in several days. Nevertheless, you may want to stop using hyaluronic acid and see a doctor if you experience any serious side effects.
Pregnant women should not take hyaluronic acid. It may be safe, but we do not know enough about the safety of hyaluronic acid when pregnant women take it by mouth or apply it to their skin. If women are breast-feeding, they should not use hyaluronic acid, even by injection. Researchers do not know whether it can get into breast milk, and the effects it would have on an infant.
I started taking 100 mg pills of hyaluronic acid daily in December 2008. Unfortunately, few pharmacies carry concentrated hyaluronic acid. If a store or pharmacy sells hyaluronic acid, then the concentration was small and usually part of joint supplements.
At this dosage level, I had to buy it from the internet from iHerb. My favorite brand is the 100 mg caps of hyaluronic acid produced by Now Foods. They also add 50 mg of alpha lipoic acid and 25 mg of grape seed extract. Since I travel a lot, I went on a quest to find a stable source of hyaluronic acid. I also found hyaluronic acid supplements in Manila, Philippines, specifically in Mercury Pharmacies in Makati City, the affluent suburb of Manila, Philippines. They sell 70 mg of soft gels called A! Life Restore.
Before taking hyaluronic acid, I never had any serious medical problems. I did experience frequent digestive problems with diarrhea, lower back pain, tired for half the day, and a little dizziness after standing up quickly. After taking hyaluronic acid, these problems disappeared, but I developed an occasional dry cough and a ravenous appetite. I slept better, felt better, and possessed more energy. The crow's feet around my eyes and wrinkles on my forehead softened and almost disappeared.
Then two years later, I upped my dosage to 200 mg. I lost that dry cough long ago and the ravenous appetite. I had no need to raise my dosage. I was teaching in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and I wanted to use up my hyaluronic acid before returning home to the United States.
Since February 2014, I still have no serious medical problems nor do not take any prescription drugs, even though U.S. doctors put everyone over the age of thirty on expensive medications. My legs started hurting more and the crow's feet around the eyes and the wrinkles across my forehead started deepening. Consequently, I raised my daily dosage to 300 mg, but I want my body to boost hyaluronic acid naturally without relying on supplements. That is why I want to eat better foods. Of course, the problems with my legs could be related to my activities. I still jog 30 minutes three times a week, and I walk a lot. (I can still keep up with people in their twenties). After a month, I reduced my hyaluronic acid to 200 mg daily because I started taking astaxanthin, which reduced the pains in my legs.
I am rarely sick, and when I do become sick, boy, it hits me hard. However, once the sickness leaves, my energy returns, and I am running at full efficiency. I have noticed a small lump on the left side of my chest. The lump must be pressing against a nerve because I feel pain occasionally. However, I had the lump for seven years, way before I started taking hyaluronic acid, which brings me to my last point.
Researchers associate certain tumors with high levels of hyaluronic acid. They do not know if hyaluronic acid causes the tumor or becomes a byproduct of the tumor. However, people lowering their levels of hyaluronic acid can reduce or slow the growth of breast and colon cancer cells.
Een if high levels of hyaluronic acid can encourage growth in breast and colon cancer, I would never stop taking hyaluronic acid. I view the quality of life more importantly than living the maximum number of years being sick. Most days, I feel well and possess loads of energy. Of course, I pay $200 per year to take 200 mg of hyaluronic acid daily, which is far cheaper than many prescription drugs.