A wonder substance known as hyaluronan or hyaluronate is being used to win the battle against time. It has been researched since 1942 as a potential replacement for Botox and other such anti-ageing agents. It is also being called ‘The fountain of youth’.
It is basically a mucopolysaccharide, a long chain of sugars strung together. It occurs naturally in the human body. An optimally functioning human contains about 15 grams of Hyaluronic Acid in the first quartile of life. It performs a number of functions in our body. It is present in your joints, skin, gums, eyes and on the scalp.
This carbohydrate is a hydrophilic molecule. Due to its water-binding ability, it can carry 1000 times its weight of water when it is not bound to other molecules. Thus, it has earned the name of ‘nature’s moisturizer’.
Hyaluronic acid is also extremely tissue friendly and is responsible for small but important functions in mostly every body system. It has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Another interesting characteristic of this sugar is that it is a ‘smart nutrient’ which means it regulates itself based on the temperatures in the environment and bases its moisture absorption rate on humidity.
As with anything in the human body, production of Hyaluronic Acid declines with age. The minor setback is that Hyaluronic Acid has a half-life, and the amount being used doesn’t correspond to the amount being produced. Therefore, by the fourth or the fifth decade of life, wrinkles and fine lines start to appear, reflecting the reduced production of HA. We are constantly exposed to pollutants and free radicals that aid in premature aging and make skin vulnerable to damage. Decreased level hyaluronic acid also causes pain in the joints, hair loss, and eye problems.
Skin: 50% of the Hyaluronic Acid is synthesized and present in the skin. HA can retain 1000 times its weight in water, therefore retaining moisture in the skin. This plumps up the skin and makes it tight, thus reducing sagging and fine lines. It also is the hydrant that is essential for collagen that maintains the elasticity of the skin. Hair: It is present in the follicles of the hair that contain the hair shaft. It is essential to provide nutrition and maintain the optimal moisture required to keep conditions like dry or oily scalp at bay. Its deficiency in the follicles causes hair fall and dry scalp. Lips: It is the substance that makes lips plump. Supplements can enhance the appearance of lips.
Joints: It is very important in maintaining healthy joints, as the absence of it leads to conditions like Arthritis and Osteoporosis. It acts as a cushioning agent and well as a shock absorber. A decrease in HA levels in the synovial fluid causes it to thicken thus increasing the friction between two articulating joints, leading to immense pain and reduction in mobility and therefore quality of life.
Eyes: HA makes up most of the fluid that maintains the intra-ocular pressure in the eye called vitreous humor. A shift in pressure can lead to vision errors, a detachment of the retina and other such problems.
Researchers argue that taking HA orally is ineffective because it is too big a molecule to be digested, and hence has to be broken down to be absorbed into the gut. But the plus point is that the broken down molecules activate the synthesis of the HA production in the body signaling natural production of HA in the body.
It can be taken orally, topically or by injections. The oral route is the most common and most commonly recommended. Topical application has good applications when it comes to healing burns or in treating scarring. Injections are the most effective pain relief in joint conditions like Arthritis and Osteoarthritis.
There are specific supplements that cater to particular needs. The Glucosamine Hyaluronic Acid Chondro is extremely effective in joint problems. The other supplements can be used as anti-ageing tablets. Consult your medical practitioner and make purchases that suit your specific needs.