This is a mucopolysaccharide (sugar molecule) also known as hyaluronan or hyaluronate. Discovered in 1934 by Karl Meyers, but patented in 1942 by EndreBalazswho proposed to use this substance as a replacement for egg whites in the bakery. Since then, researchers have been looking at this substance and its possible benefits to the human body. It is now being called the ‘fountain of youth’ and is being heavily researched in medicine today due to its efficacy in treatment procedures in the fields of orthopedics and eye surgery. What is so special about this carbohydrate is that it is a hydrophilic molecule. Due to its water-binding ability, it can carry 1000 times its weight in water when it is not bound to other molecules. Thus, it has earned the name ‘nature’s moisturizer’.
Hyaluronic acid is also extremely tissue friendly and is responsible for small but important functions in mostly every body system. It is synthesized naturally in the body in all the body systems, but it is present in highest concentrations (50%) in the skin. 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 of humidity.
Hyaluronic acid though naturally synthesized in the body, has a half-life. This means that 1/3rd of the 15 grams present in the body is used up on a daily basis. With the decline in age, the capacity of the body to produce HA also falls. By the 4th decade there is a considerable reduction in HA production in the skin and by 5th decade of life, the human eyes stop producing this substance. Genetic factors, smoking, deficiencies in Zinc and Magnesium accelerates the decrease in Hyaluronic Acid production and thus, making it necessary to take hyaluronic acid pills.
Reduced production leads to conditions like Arthritis, Osteoarthritis and eye problems. Less severe problems like a decline in gum health, hair fall, wrinkles and fine lines are seen as well.
Oral intake of Hyaluronic Acid pills is a controversial matter as experts argue that it too big a molecule to be easily absorbed by the gut cavity. But absorption of the broken down sugar triggers the enzymes responsible for the natural production of Hyaluronic acid thus serving the purpose of oral supplementation in the form of hyaluronic acid pills.
The complete benefits of taking Hyaluronic Acid supplements to aid in its functions are as follows.
• Provides joint cushioning and protects the articular surfaces of the joint bones from wear and tear.
• It is present in bones and cartilages (hyaline cartilage) and provides elasticity and aids in flexibility.
• It is present in synovial fluid (fluid in between two bones in a joint) that is responsible for shock absorption during movement, as well as acts as a medium to deliver nutrition to the joint.
• Commercially produced pills are mostly prepared from a derivative of the comb of chickens or is extracted from sternal protein. It might cause hypersensitivity reactions in people who are allergic to eggs or feathers. Hyaluronic acid may increase the risk of bleeding when taken orally.
• It is not a viable option for individuals who are on blood thinners as it increases the risk of bleeding. Not advisable for individuals who take medications like Warfarin or aspirin, therefore medical consultation is required.
• It is generally not a safe supplement for pregnant or breast-feeding women to take orally or through injections.
• Topical forms of Hyaluronic Acid:
It is generally available in the form of skin creams and various ointments.This method of the application said to be effective because the molecules are able to penetrate the surface of the skin, which collagen is not capable of. These are said to reduce scarring, promote wound healing and aid in burn treatments apart from reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It is also a useful agent that blocks UVB rays and prevents sun spots.
Injections are highly useful in treating arthritis and osteoarthritis as it provides instant pain relief. These are injected in the joint capsule weekly and may relieve pain for several months. Though it is proven to be extremely effective, injections are avoided because it is an invasive procedure. Injections are also used for cosmetic procedures like cheek enhancement, lip enhancement, and wrinkle reduction.
• Surgical applications:
Used in procedures like cataract surgeries, corneal transplantations, detached the retina, plastic surgery, burns, and ulcers.
Oral pills are the most commonly used route of Hyaluronic Acid intake as it is non-invasive and the least expensive. It is also the safest method according to experts, and it increases the body’s natural production of Hyaluronic Acid.
In adults above the age of 18 years- 50mg, twice a day/once with meals is the accepted dosage.
In adults over 40 years: 80mg twice a day/meals.
In adults suffering from Arthritis/Osteoarthritis – 200mg injections/ dosage according to the practitioner is generally the recommended dosage.