It's the ingredient for healthier, glowing and youthful appearing skin everyone talks about, but what is hyaluronic acid, does it actually work, how much do you need, and what does it do? Our expert nutritionists explain.
What actually is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid, also known as 'hyaluronan', is a type of sugar found naturally in our body, and abundantly in the skin. Hyaluronic acid holds onto water which supports the moisturisation of our skin and helps to bind that water to collagen, which forms the main structural and elastic component of our skin.
In short, hyaluronic acid is the most powerful skin moisturiser in your body and an integral part of your skin health.
What does hyaluronic acid do?
Provides moisture to skin
Hyaluronic acid is the water-holding molecule in the skin which is bound to collagen and holds up to 1000 times its own weight in water. An abundance of hyaluronic acid in the skin makes a major difference to the hydration, plumpness and bounce of our skin. Skin that is dry or cracked may need more hyaluronic acid than your body produces.
Does your diet feed your skin? Find out here.
The level of hyaluronic acid in our skin decreases as we age, making our skin drier and more prone to moisture loss and loss of plumpness. Studies show that when taken orally, hyaluronic acid improves the moisturisation of our skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and and improving the appearance of youthfulness.
Some studies have shown hyaluronic acid can also help to improve wound healing by helping the skin to maintain moisture which is needed for regeneration of tissues and healing of wounds. Studies show hyaluronic acid may also relieve some of the inflammation associated with wounds.
Absorbs water from the air
Due to its water-grabbing nature, hyaluronic acid absorbs water from the air around us and pulls it into our skin. This property of hyaluronic acid is known as a 'humectant'.
Improves collagen synthesis
The loss of hyaluronic acids also affects the level of collagen that is produced in our skin. Collagen relies on an adequate level of hyaluronic acid in the skin for its synthesis - if your routine focuses only on collagen, then you are missing a big piece of the puzzle!
How do I increase collagen?
The most effective way to increase collagen is by increasing your body's own collagen production.
If you're considering a collagen supplement, think again. Collagen supplements are made from boiling the skin and bones of cows, or the shells of marine life (learn more in 'The truth about collagen'), and they're not as effective as increasing collagen from within your body. This is because collagen from supplements is broken down into individual amino acids before it can be used, whereas collagen produced by your body goes directly to your skin.
Skin Saviour™ is a unique plant-based formula of clinically studied ingredients that combats blemishes and outbreaks, and fuels your body's natural collagen production for glowing, healthier and plumper skin. Learn more about Skin Saviour here.
How important is hyaluronic acid for skin?
The proper function of our skin relies on hyaluronic acid, so having the right level is very important. Hyaluronic acid levels are typically lower in individuals with eczema, dermatitis and other dry skin conditions, and levels drop as we age, leading to a loss of collagen, an ageing appearance and decreased skin function.
How much hyaluronic acid do I need?
Most studies involving hyaluronic acid use a range from 60mg to 150mg daily. The amount you need daily depends on multiple factors including age, if you have or you're susceptible to skin conditions such as acne or eczema, or if you have joint conditions.
Hyaluronic acid supports joint lubrication and providing a protective fluid around your joints. If you suffer joint stiffness or aches and your body requires hyaluronic acid for your joints, you may need a higher intake of hyaluronic acid to see benefits in your skin.
Hyaluronic acid in your diet
Hyaluronic acid is not found in any plant-based foods. The only foods that contain a good source are meat-based broths. However there are plant-based foods that encourage your body’s natural production of hyaluronic acid.
Soya beans, tofu and tempeh
Soya-based foods are rich in phytoestrogens, an oestrogen-like substance found in some plants. Learn more in 'The proven health benefits of soya'.
Oestrogen naturally increases hyaluronic acid production and the loss of oestrogen during the menopause is one contributing factor to ageing skin in women. Find out more in '12 common symptoms of menopause'.
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Tomatoes, oranges & figs
These foods contain a flavonoid called 'naringenin' which helps to prevent the breakdown of hyaluronic acid in the skin, leading to higher active levels of hyaluronic acid to support your skin's moisture levels and glowing appearance.
Wholegrains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and wholemeal bread provide a good amount of magnesium. Magnesium increases the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin. Learn more in 'How do I know if I'm deficient in magnesium?'.
You may also enjoy: 'Best foods and vitamins for glowing skin'.
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