What You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid and The Way It Works
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a carbohydrate, referred to as hyaluronate, and is found naturally in every cell of the human body. HA is often bound in the body with other molecules, but when it is not, it will be bound with water to produce a viscous fluid with a consistency of jello.
This viscous gel-like substance lubricates and protects our joints and muscles and acts as a moisturizer for the skin. Overtime, the viscosity of HA becomes thinner and less able to provide the protection it once did to our joints and muscles.
Where is Hyaluronic Acid found?
The body must continuously replenish its supply of HA because its half-life, (its life-span) varies from 1 day to 3 days. While HA is found everywhere in the body, it plays different roles depending on its location.
In the joints. HA makes up the hyaline cartilage layer that covers the articulation surfaces of bones in a joint. It provides cushioning and makes the joint resistance to wear and tear. Hyaline cartilage is also located in the breast bone, at the tip of the nose and in the bones of the windpipe and bronchial tubes.
In Synovial fluid. This fluid is found in the joint cavity where it acts as a shock absorber, provides nutrients for the cartilage and removes waste. Synovial fluid is made from HA.
In connective tissue. Connective tissue, which includes ligaments and tendons, contains a ground substance made from HA which provides a cushion for the connective tissue allowing it to bear weight that is placed on it by the bones they support.
In Gum Tissue. Hyaluronic Acid surrounds the connective tissue which holds teeth in position in the bone of the jaw, and reinforces the ligaments that hold the teeth in place.
In the scalp. Because of its presence in the scalp, HA helps add moisture to the scalp and aids in the nourishment of the hair.
In the lips. The presence of HA in the connective tissue of the dermal layer of the lips give the lips their plumpness and their shape. HA binds with water and helps keep the area surrounding the lips, healthy, hydrated and tight.
In the eyes. The vitreous humor of the eye is composed entirely of HA, it serves as a shock absorber and assists in the transportation of nutrients. Often HA is injected into the eye to maintain its shape during eye surgery.
In the skin. 50% of all Hyaluronic Acid in the body is located in the deeper dermis layer of the skin. Young skin has a high concentration of HA and as a result it is elastic and smooth. Hyaluronic Acid binds up to 1000 times its weight with water and that contributes to the skin’s softness and suppleness. As skin ages however, HA in the skin become less viscous, it decreases in volume and the skin loses its tightness and smoothness.
How does Hyaluronic Acid work?
A gel-like substance known as extra-cellular matrix or ECM, provides the structure in which the cells, tendons, bones, cartilage, ligaments of the body exist. HA in the ECM prevents the overstretching of fibers, prevents the drying out of the tissues and it maintains a nutrient rich water-based fluid that surrounds all the tissue within.
The fluid also transports nutrients and waste to and from the cells. An environment such as this is possible only because hyaluronic acid can bind 1000 times its weight with water.