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5 Reasons to use Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid is important to your skin, hair, nails, joints, tendons and so much more!
1. Healthy lifestyle 2. Hydration for skin, joints, hair, tendons, eye and bones 3. Healthy Mobility 4. Youthful skin appearance 5. Healthy eyesight
Hyaluronic Acid, live a healthier lifestyle
In late 2002, the ABC News show Primetime sent correspondent Connie Chung to the small farming village of Yuzuri Hara, located in a hilly region just two hours outside of Tokyo, Japan. Curiously, the townspeople of Yuzuri Hara were living well into their 90s without the usual signs of aging. When Chung introduced the world to this small town and the remarkable longevity and health its people were experiencing, of course, the world wanted to know the town’s age-defying secret.
In Yuzuri Hara, roughly ten percent of the villagers are aged 85 or older. That figure might not sound like much, but if you compare it to the national average here in the United States, where it is one percent, it is indeed curiously high.
Even more remarkable, the elderly population of Yuzuri Hara enjoys unusually good health compared to what one observes elsewhere in the world. Even those who have a lifetime of unhealthy habits, such as smoking or unprotected sun exposure, are in good health. Men and women well into their 80’s and 90’s still have smooth, beautiful skin. They are active, oftentimes able to perform physically demanding work in the fields that requires strength and flexibility. They also demonstrate excellent eyesight and seldom get sick. Doctors, farmers, innkeepers, all routinely practice their professions into their 80’s.
Japanese researchers believe that one major factor in the health and longevity of the villagers is their diet. Because the village is in a particularly hilly region, they rely on a variety of starchy root vegetables rather than rice cultivation. Staple foods include satsumaimo, a type of sweet potato; satoimo, a sticky white potato; konyaku, a gelatinous root vegetable concoction; and imoji, a potato root.
These particular vegetables contain nutrients that stimulate Hyaluronic Acid (HA) production in the body, which normally slows as the body ages. Comparatively, the people of Yuzuri Hara have higher levels of HA in their body than most. The increased levels of HA may ward off the aging process by helping the cells of the body thrive and retain moisture, keeping joints lubricated, protecting the retina in eyes, and keeping skin smooth and elastic.
Dr. Toyosuke Komori, the town doctor who has studied and written books on longevity in Yuzuri Hara, is interviewed in the Primetime segment and attributes the diet and increased HA production in the body as a probable factor. Komori, 80, who himself follows the local diet of very little meat and a lot of homegrown sticky starches, tells Chung, “I feel very strongly that if I had not come here to Yuzuri Hara, I would not have lived this long and healthy of a life.
I probably would have died from some adult disease.” Sadly, Komori also mentions statistics showing that since Western-style processed food infiltrated the village, heart disease doubled. With the younger generation falling prey to unhealthy foods, an upside-down death pyramid has emerged in which adults die before their elderly parents.
Regardless of the more recent statistical changes in Yuzuri Hara, the story of the Village of Long Life triggered widespread interest in hyaluronic acid and its age-defying effects.
Improve levels of Hydration in Body
Hyaluronic Acid, also known as hyaluronan or hyaluronate, is a hydrophilic (waterloving) carbohydrate found naturally throughout the human body. First isolated by Karl Meyer in 1934, HA is comprised of the molecules N-acetyl glucosamine and glucuronic acid. Its linear, rope-like structure allows it to bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water. As
HA seeks out and binds to water, it becomes a viscous, Jell-O-like substance that serves as the body’s natural lubricant and provider of cushioning and elasticity. Hyaluronic Acid is found in our bodies’ connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, ground substance/matrix or extra cellular matrix fluid) and synovial fluid between the joints and eyes.
Hyaluronic Acid’s Molecular Structure
Hyaluronic Acid’s Rope Structure
Hyaluronic Acid was first used commercially in 1942 when Endre Balazs applied for a patent to use it as a substitute for egg whites in baked goods. Its discovery was very unique. No other molecule had ever been examined with such unusual properties in the human body. Balazs went on to be-come the leading expert on Hyaluronic Acid, and made the majority of findings concerning hyaluronic acid benefits. However, Hyaluronic Acid was not commonly used medically until the 1990’s.
Hyaluronic Acid in the body
Today, thousands of clinical trials exist that examine the use of Hyaluronic Acid mostly in the fields of eye surgery and orthopedics. Orthopedic injections are now commonly used to support healthy joint movement. HA oral supplementation is used for eye and joint health support. HA is often used to support the eye during eye surgery. Since the airing of Prime time’s segment on Yuzuri Hara in 2002, Hyaluronic Acid has been widely studied for its age-defying properties for beautiful, youthful-looking skin. Cosmetic injections under the skin have become increasingly popular for smoothing wrinkles. HA is also applied topically to hydrate, moisturize and enliven aging skin.
HA and Aging
The human body degrades about one-third of its Hyaluronic Acid stores each day. Normally, this Hyaluronic Acid is simply replaced with new Hyaluronic Acid that the body synthesizes, but beginning as early as young adulthood, our production of HA begins to decrease, and this decrease accelerates with age. By middle age, our bodies can no longer make up the amount of HA they lose, and the telltale signs of aging become apparent. Joints lose their ability to maintain proper cushion, and there is a need to support healthy movement. The collagen in our skin loses its moisture, and the skin sags and wrinkles. Around age 50, it’s estimated that we can have as little as half the amount of Hyaluronic Acid in our skin that we did in our 20’s. Put simply: without enough Hyaluronic Acid, we look and feel old!
Better Mobility with improved levels of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid plays a critical role in healthy movement throughout our lifetime. As we grow older, discomfort begins and the joints experience limitations in movement. Maintaining healthy levels of Hyaluronic Acid in our joints and bodies is one way to ensure healthy joints and flexibility as we age.
Our joints are surrounded by a synovial membrane, which forms a capsule around the ends of two articulating bones, and Hyaluronic Acid is a major component of the synovial fluid that lubricates this joint capsule and provides cushion.
Hyaluronic Acid is to our joints what motor oil is to a car’s engine: it provides lubrication to keep the parts running smoothly without grinding against each other. Similarly, as we age, the viscosity of synovial joint fluid lessens. We need to maintain healthy levels of HA in the body, just as we might top off our car’s oil pan.
This long complex molecule forms a ball shape, which resists compression and provides cushion. However, with inflammation or other conditions the complex hyaluronic acid molecule breaks down to smaller pieces and is unable to maintain a ball shape. In this broken down state, HA can no longer provide cushioning in the joint. The fluid becomes water like and unable to cushion the joints.
Hyaluronic Acid in Cartilage
In addition to Hyaluronic Acid’s rich synovial fluid’s elastic, shock-absorbing and lubricating properties, it carries nutrients to the cartilage and removes waste from the joint capsule. As cartilage is without blood flow, the synovial fluid’s HA helps perform these functions in the body.
Since we lose Hyaluronic Acid as we age, it’s not surprising that research has shown that the joint fluid of consumers with joint health issues have reduced levels of HA. Stimulating the body’s production of Hyaluronic Acid or increasing the presence of Hyaluronic Acid through injection or supplementation appears to be a logical means to support joint health. Multiple studies show that those with joint health concerns benefit from Hyaluronic Acid as it supports proper joint cushioning. Fortunately, Hyaluronic Acid is available to everyone who wishes to support joint health.
Individuals wishing to maintain healthy joints can do so easily, conveniently and afford-ably by supplementing with HA. Findings have shown that after a single oral dose of HA, ample HA may find its way to the joints.
Glucosamine and Hyaluronic Acid
Glucosamine is a well-known joint health supplement. Interestingly, studies have found that the effectiveness of glucosamine supplementation may be largely due to its ability to boost synthesis of HA in the joint fluid. Glucosamine is only a piece of the joint-health puzzle, and in fact, a molecular component in HA. Glucosamine is a modified sugar, whereas HA is a complex molecule that, when broken down, releases a glucosamine molecule. There are proper-ties related to Hyaluronic Acid’s complexity that aren’t present in glucosamine—mainly that HA is the key ingredient in joint fluid lubrication. Supplementing with Hyaluronic Acid and glucosamine together is a great strategy for overall joint health support.
Hyaluronic Acid and the Connective Tissue Connection
Connective tissue is found everywhere in the body. It does much more than connect body parts; it has many forms and functions. Its major functions include binding, support, protection, and insulation. One such example of connective tissue is the cord-like structures that connect muscle to bone (tendons) and bone to bone (ligaments). In all connective tissue there are three structural elements. They are ground substance (Hyaluronic Acid), stretchy fibers (collagen and elastin) and a fundamental cell type.
Whereas all other primary tissues in the body are composed mainly of living cells, connective tissues are composed largely of a nonliving ground substance (HA), which separates and cushions the living cells of the connective tissue.
The separation and cushioning allow the tissue to bear weight, withstand great tension and endure abuses that no other body tissue could. All of this is made possible because of the presence of the Hyaluronic Acid and its ability to form the gelatinous ground substance fluid.
Ultimately, Hyaluronic Acid serves to keep tendons and ligaments hydrated and nourished—and the presence of Hyaluronic Acid helps lessen friction and is an important component in maintaining healthy mobility.
Methods of Increasing Hyaluronic Acid in the Body
To promote healthy aging, it makes perfect sense to do all we can to maintain adequate amounts of HA in the body. There are nutritional ways of supporting the body’s production of HA. While our western diet may not resemble that of the people of Yuzuri Hara, we can incorporate foods that are rich in magnesium, zinc, copper and silicon into our diet. These minerals are helpers in the preparation of HA.
Another nutritional strategy is to favor foods and herbs such as grape seed extract, horse chestnut and resveratrol may help the body prevent hyaluronidase, the enzyme that breaks down HA, from getting out of control and attacking our own increasingly scarce supplies.
HA skin injections to improve skin appearance and knee injections for joint health are com-mon procedures provided by medical doctors.
One of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase the amount of HA in our bodies is to supplement with HA orally or used topically in shampoos, conditioners, skin se-rums, scrubs, moisturizers, and other preparations. High molecular weight (HMW) HA is roughly the size of the body’s naturally formed HA, which may make it more beneficial as a supplement.
More youthful skin appearance with Hyaluronic Acid
When you understand how integral HA is to healthy, youthful skin, you’ll wonder why HA’s age-defying effects were not discovered sooner! Although HA can be found naturally in most every cell in the body, it is found in the greatest concentrations in the skin tissue and collagen. Roughly half our body’s HA is found in the skin, which is the largest organ in the body comprising about 15 percent of our body weight. While the half-life of HA in the body is estimated to be less than three days, it can be as little as one day in the skin.
Smooth, elastic young skin is naturally loaded with HA—as our young bodies produce HA abundantly and easily replace the HA that is lost. The HA provides continuous moisture to the skin by binding up to 1,000 times its weight in water. Unfortunately, the ability of our skin to produce HA decreases as we age and consequently, the amount of HA in our skin drops significantly. In addition to our body producing less water-loving HA as we age, over time free radicals, produced mostly through exposure to pollutants and sunlight, destroy the HA in the skin. Without enough HA in the skin, the skin loses its ability to hold water leaving a drier, thinner and wrinkled appearance. It’s similar to what happens to drying plums and grapes—as they lose moisture, they become dried and wrinkled. The skin consists of three main layers: the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis.
Less than a millimeter thick, the epidermis protects our bodies from heat and cold. The condition of the epidermis determines how the skin looks and also how well the skin absorbs and holds moisture.
The dermis is the middle layer of the skin and the skin’s support structure. It is the thickest layer and comprises a network of collagen and elastin fibers. The dermis represents the majority of the thickness of the skin (the epidermis above it makes up only a small percentage of the skin. The dermis gives the skin its elasticity and resilience.
At the very bottom layer of our skin is the subcutaneous tissue or hypodermis. This tissue consists mainly of fat that keeps the body warm, stores energy, and protects inner organs. The subcutaneous tissue houses sweat glands as well as a system of tiny muscles connected to our hair follicles. As we age and the subcutaneous tissue thins, our skin begins to sag and the epidermis contracts, causing wrinkles to appear.
Hyaluronic Acid and the Dermis
HA of the skin is found in both the deep underlying dermal areas as well as the visible epidermal top layers. The dermal layer of the skin and lips is composed of collagen and HA, which contribute to the structure and shape. While collagen makes up the majority of the dry weight of the dermis, HA provides the moisture. It hydrates the dermis, which is roughly 70 percent water.
HA’s affinity to water is akin to a sponge. HA binds to water creating a viscous fluid that hydrates the surrounding tissue and keeps the collagen nourished and healthy. HA allows the skin to retain its supple and firm tone and youthful appearance.
Hyaluronic Acid and the Lips
The lips are a core of skeletal muscle covered by skin tissue. The dermal layer of the lips is composed primarily of connective tissue (made up of HA and collagen), which gives the lips structure (shape) and plumpness. The HA binds to water creating a gelatinous fluid that hydrates the surrounding tissue and keeps the collagen (the rubber bands responsible for keeping the skin tight) nourished and healthy.
The result is healthy, well-hydrated and plump lips that are protected from the environment.
Hyaluronic Acid and the Scalp
Structurally the scalp is identical to the skin tissue located throughout the body except it also contains about 100,000 hair follicles that give rise to hair. The hair and the hair follicle are a derivative of skin tissue. The dermis is where the hair follicle is located. The dermal layer is composed of connective tissue and is rich with HA. It nourishes and hydrates as well as supports the deep layers of the scalp. The result is healthy lustrous hair and a moisturized scalp. Again, all of this is made possible because of the presence of HA in the scalp.
HHyaluronic Acid for Gorgeous Skin
Today, Hyaluronic Acid injections are a common cosmetic procedure to safely enliven, plump and smooth wrinkles and improve elasticity of aging skin. HA is also used topically to hydrate and smooth skin in serums and moisturizers. Additionally, its used in shampoos and conditions for lustrous hair and lip balms for shapely, smooth lips.
Topical Hyaluronic Acid provides a great convenient and affordable way to provide HA to the skin.
Findings shows that topical HA makes its way to the dermis where it hydrates and nourishes the collagen and helps to smooth and plump the skin. In a study published in 1999 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, HA made its way to the dermis of test subjects within a relatively short period after application.
The best news about Hyaluronic Acid is that it really can work. In a study published in the May 2008 issue of Dermatologic Surgery, researchers made note of HA’s ability to rejuvenate facial skin.
Hyaluronic Acid for better eyesight
The very substance that nourishes the collagen in our Eye Diagram skin and provides the cushion in our joints, also makes up a large percentage of our eyes’ vitreous humor gel fluid. We need an abundance of HA for healthy eye function.
The vitreous humor is the clear substrate that light shines through until hitting the back of the eye to form an image on the retina. The HA in the vitreous humor cushions the structures of the eye and helps maintain its shape as we play contact sports, run, or just move about throughout the day. Think of how different it feels to walk or run barefoot on a hard surface—you can feel the shock in your legs and hips—versus walking with soft shoes or cushioned insoles.
Most of this skeletal shock from our movement is transferred up the vertebral column to the skull and the eyes and brain. In its infinite wisdom, the body supplies an abundance of HA to act as a shock absorber within the eyes to stabilize vision and protect delicate eye tissues.
It has become a common practice for eye surgeons to inject Hyaluronic Acid directly into the eye in order to maintain the shape of the eye during surgery. The hydrating, viscous properties of HA support not only eye shape and resilience, but also transport nutrients into the eye. Thus, HA helps play a major role in maintaining the health of other ocular tissues like the cornea and retina. It is believed that after the fifth decade of life, our eyes may stop producing Hyaluronic Acid which may result in various eye problems such as poor vision, dry eyes and floaters. Healthy levels of HA in the eyes is important to their proper functioning and longevity.
Hyaluronic Acid and Gum Health
Our bodies’ connective tissue is composed of fibrous tissue surrounded by HA. HA is also known as the extra-cellular matrix, acting much like mortar between the bricks.
The gums (gingivae) are composed of dense fibrous connective tissue (ligaments), which secure the teeth to the alveolar bone (jaw bone). Without enough hyaluronic acid, the gums connective tissue becomes unhealthy. When an abundance of HA is present, it helps to provide the tensile strength of the ligaments that secure the tooth in place by providing hydration and nourishment. Having adequate amounts of HA in the connective tissue is integral to maintaining the health and longevity of your gums.
Of course, as we age and our bodies are not able to produce enough HA to replace what is bro-ken down. Our gum health is at risk too. An overall HA supplement or toothpaste may help bring needed HA to the gums as well as to the joints, skin, eyes and other areas of the body.
Types of Hyaluronic Acid
It’s important for consumers and health care professionals to know that there are three major types of HA materials used in dietary supplements and skin care products—each with varying results.
The three major source materials of Hyaluronic Acid are natural microbial fermentation, rooster combs and hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage. Natural microbial fermentation creates Hyaluronic Acid that is vegan-friendly and closely similar to that of the HA naturally produced by the body. This Hyaluronic Acid has a long residual life in the anatomy. It has high viscosity for buffering and lubrication. And best of all, usually only a small amount is needed to receive benefits.
Rooster combs and hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage yield smaller pieces of the HA molecule, which the body must reassemble. Aging reduces healthy HA into smaller pieces as HA deteriorates. Hence, these sources may not produce the most efficient or beneficial Hyaluronic Acid.
Low Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid vs. High Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid.
We all know that a human joint lacking proper lubrication or with minimal joint fluid will invariably allow articulating (joint) bones to rub directly on top of each other causing long-term damage to the cartilage. In the body, HA most commonly presents itself as a large, high molecular weight molecule. It is critical to its function to be a large molecule. As we discussed earlier, the molecule is made up of a repetitive sequence of two modified simple sugars—glucuronic acid and N acetyl glucosamine. When these compounds come together, they are both negatively charged and repel, causing the long molecule to stretch out naturally. A long, rope-like molecule has far more water binding capacity. Molecules that are long and stretched out often give a high viscosity, which can resist compression of the joint. HMW Hyaluronic Acid is a common type of Hyaluronic Acid used in research as it closely resembles the majority of naturally occurring Hyaluronic Acid in the joint structure. When the HA molecule breaks into small pieces, the short rope like pieces lose their ability to bind to water and create the cushiony joint fluid.
LMW Hyaluronic Acid does not typically have the surface area for binding to water and thus proper lubrication is harder to achieve. HMW Hyaluronic Acid typically weighs up to 5 times that of LMW Hyaluronic Acid —a significant difference. LMW Hyaluronic Acid in the body is generally compromised and is not as successful at providing cushion, hydration and transfer of nutrients.
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