Hyaluronic Acid Prized for Skin, Joints, Dental and Body Repair

By Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

May 3, 2021

Hyaluronic Acid Prized for Skin, Joints, Dental and Body Repair
Hyaluronic acid is a highly sought-after compound for its anti-aging effects for skin and shock absorption support for joints. As research continues to investigate its effects, we see that hyaluronic acid supports more than just outward appearances. Its anti-aging effects go from skin surfaces to deep within and throughout your body. But, take note that the type of hyaluronic acid you take matters!

Hyaluronic Acid and Skin

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a clear, gooey substance made up of glucuronic acid and N-acetyl-d-glucosamine, naturally produced by the body. Hyaluronic acid’s molecular structure allows it to attract water. It is highly concentrated in the skin which helps maintain supple skin. It is also present in connective tissues and joints and acts as a cushioning.

With age, the surface layers of your skin produce less hyaluronic acid, which makes them lose moisture content and leads to wrinkles. The presence of hyaluronic acid helps firm skin tone and reduces fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, hyaluronic acid’s hydrated matrix helps the natural flow of nutrients into skin cells and removal of metabolic waste from the skin. This supports connective tissue repair and aids in maintaining younger-looking skin.

Dehydrated Cartilage and Height

Aging also causes loss of height within the spinal column. It is not necessarily from bone loss; rather it happens as the cartilaginous discs between the spinal vertebrae shrink and dehydrate. A normal spine contains 23 intervertebral discs which make up about 25 percent of your spinal column height. As you age or experience disc herniations, the cartilaginous cushioning declines more like a compressed jelly donut. Cartilage cells in your hips, knees, hands, shoulders, and other joints also dehydrate with age.

Synovial Fluid Production

Diminished synovial fluid production with age also contributes to dehydration of cartilage cells. This loss of lubrication puts greater load and more mechanical and oxidative stress on cartilage cells which causes further damage, loss of height, and tears within cartilage.

The cartilage in spinal intervertebral discs and other joints can be likened somewhat to a kitchen sponge. When the sponge is wet, it is soft yet amazingly durable and strong, bounces easily, and is plump. When the sponge dries out, it is shriveled, rigid, and bounces hard.

Healthy cartilage allows incredible shock absorption and ease of movement within joints. When cartilage loses its gelatinous composition and synovial fluid from dehydration, age, stress, or injury, it becomes hard, less pliable, and more easily torn.

Hyaluronic acid helps bathe joints in synovial fluid that gives moisture to the outer parts of cartilage. It provides lubrication and shock absorbing effects to the cartilaginous material inside joint capsules.

Beyond Synovial Fluid and Joint Hydration

The impact of hyaluronic acid on cartilage cells goes beyond synovial fluid and joint hydration. Ongoing research on joint breakdown points to mitochondrial distress that precedes cartilage cell distress and breakdown. I wrote about this in 2015 in the article Mitochondria and Osteoarthritis: An Exciting New Frontier.

Mitochondria are cellular engines found everywhere in the body except red blood cells. Inside cartilage cells, mitochondria provide sustenance and energy for these cells. Mitochondria are highly sensitive to free radical stress and injury. In joints, mitochondrial stress and breakdown provokes distress on cartilage cells. As a result, cartilage cells break down over time.

Cell studies demonstrated that when human cartilage cells were exposed to pro-inflammatory oxidative stress with cytokines like IL-1beta and TNF-alpha, a disturbance occurred within the mitochondria before cartilage cells were damaged. Results showed damaged mitochondria DNA and loss of energy production. This damage subsequently led to apoptosis of chondrocytes or cartilage cell death.

This is where it gets interesting about hyaluronic acid’s effect on cartilage cells and mitochondria. In 2009, cell studies showed that hyaluronic acid helped protect mitochondrial DNA repair capacity and preserved ATP levels inside cartilage cells. This protective mechanism enhanced cartilage cell survival.

Subsequent studies such as a December 2020 cell study demonstrated hyaluronic acid’s protective effect on cartilage cells mitochondria-dependent pathways from proinflammatory compounds. Hyaluronic acid provided antioxidant protection by modulating the cell survival mechanism phospho-AKT. Oxidative stress markers 8-OhDG and other signals that led to cartilage cell death were markedly reduced in cartilage cells exposed to hyaluronic acid.

Cartilage Cells, Lidocaine and Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid’s supportive effects to mitochondria within cartilage cells can be expanded into other arenas of joint distress. Joint pain has often been treated with lidocaine and other local anesthetics. While the anesthetics may initially provide pain numbing relief, they come with a cost. Local anesthetics kill cartilage cells as these drugs injure the mitochondria inside.

However, when anesthetics were combined with hyaluronic acid, cartilage cells were much more likely to survive. Hyaluronic acid protected the mitochondria from the destructive pathway induced by local anesthetic. Other recent animal studies confirm hyaluronic acid’s positive effect on synovial fluid and cartilage cells after the trauma of joint injections such as triamcinolone.

You may read more about the concerns of joint injections in the article Injections for Joint Pain May Damage Cartilage

Hyaluronic Acid and Dental Health

Hyaluronic acid supports dental and jaw bone health as well. Several studies have explored hyaluronic acid use for the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) support. A 2017 randomized control trial showed hyaluronic acid modulated myeloperoxidase levels within the synovial fluid of the jaw joint which reflected improved joint comfort. A 2019 randomized control trial showed that those who received hyaluronic acid versus the placebo group experienced improved jaw joint comfort and increased ability to open their mouth.

Recent studies showed jaw bone density and integrity improved with hyaluronic acid used with either bone grafts and/or dental procedures like extractions or implants. Other research shows hyaluronic acid supported dental tissue structure after wisdom tooth extraction.

A 2020 randomized controlled trial in adults with dental implants showed another benefit of hyaluronic acid use. It helped protect the natural microbiome of the surrounding dental tissue and reduced other germs from colonization.

Future Exploration

Other exciting new research delved into hyaluronic acid’s effect within the central nervous system. Developing research shows hyaluronic acid’s promising biological activity in the brain that affects the cellular matrix, structural support material, nerve insulation, oxidative stress management, and much more. Different molecular weights and size of hyaluronic acid is thought to impact cells and nervous system in various ways. There is still much to learn. We have found that use of oral hyaluronic acid at bedtime helps support more restful sleep.

Creaky joints, wrinkles, and loss of height are sure signs of aging. Gone are the days of baby soft skin, easy recovery, joint flexibility and so forth seen in youth. However, healthy lifestyle choices and the aid of nutritional science allow us to support healthy aging. Replenishment of hyaluronic acid to more optimal levels aids in restoring of glycosaminoglycans levels to cartilage and skin cells. This supports lubrication, moisture, and elasticity.

Hyaluronic acid hydrated matrix helps movement of nutrients in and waste product out. It supports shock absorption and synovial fluid in joints. Remarkably, it provides essential protection to mitochondria inside cartilage cells. Healthy mitochondria are essential for aging well.

Hyaluronic Acid Supplementation

Wellness Resources offers low molecular weight hyaluronic acid that bypasses absorption difficulties that occur with high molecular weight hyaluronic acid. Our hyaluronic acid is naturally-sourced from rooster comb. We avoid synthetic sodium hyaluronate, which is difficult for the body to absorb as a nutritional supplement.

Hyaluronic acid may be used with other nutrients such as curcumin, boswellia, omega-3 fish oils, PQQ, and grape seed extract commonly used to support joint and skin health as well as mitochondrial health.

Many customers over the years have referred to hyaluronic acid as their hydraulic fluid or WD40 for their joints or have found it helpful for skin health. As research continues to uncover its benefits, it is evident that hyaluronic acid provides more than just superficial support for aging skin and joints. It provides the foundation as well as protection of structures.

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