Hyaluronic acid is essentially a very large sugar which naturally occurs in connective tissue throughout our bodies.
Half of it is found in our skin, where it has the important role of retaining moisture.
And it does a great job – one molecule can hold up to a thousand times its own weight in water. Which makes it an excellent moisturiser.
HA acts like a sponge, holding vast amounts of water in the skin, effectively plumping it out - and by doing so it can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as improving the skin's hydration and texture.
No other biological substance can retain as much water as HA, resulting in increased smoothness, softening and decreased wrinkles.
Equally important is its ability to remove waste matter from cells where there is little blood circulation.
HA is equally, if not more important, than collagen.
Although originally discovered in 1934 by Karl Meyer, people really sat up to take notice of HA after a reporter visited the Japanese village of Yuzuri Hara where people in their 80s and 90s had smooth wrinkle-free skin, flexible joints, full heads of hair and activity levels which defied their age.
This was found to be related to oestrogen-like molecules in their diet from soya and tofu, which sent signals to the cells to make more hyaluronic acid.
Our bodies contain around 15 grams of HA and it is in virtually every part of the body. But a third of it is degraded on a daily basis, so by the time we reach our mid 40s our bodies are producing roughly half of the HA we need.
Scientific studies have proved HA boosts skin hydration, stimulates production of collagen, works as an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, maintains skin elasticity, cushions joints and nerve tissues, has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity and maintains fluid in the eye tissues, protecting against eye diseases.
As well as the skin, here are some of the other parts of the body which benefit from HA.
HA works as a shock absorber lubricating the fluid in the joint tissues and stabilising their breakdown. As an antioxidant, it protects against joint destruction due to free radicals.
HA is found in the vitreous fluid in the eyes, giving them their shape and characteristics. It benefits people suffering from dry eyes. Oral supplements of HA may help eyesight because as we age, less HA is found in the eye tissues and it is needed to support the eye’s structure.
Gum disease affects 3 out of 4 UK adults over the age of 35, and it’s the single biggest cause of tooth loss. HA helps with the regeneration of fresh healthy gum tissue and reduces inflammation leading to bleeding gums.