What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that gives the synovial fluid its viscous consistency. Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in high concentrations in articular cartilage, synovial fluid, umbilical cord and in the eye in animals and humans, and normally in the connective tissue under the skin throughout the body.
In the articular cartilage, HA is produced by the cartilage cells and in the synovial fluid by the joint capsule cells, where it is an important component for the normal function of the joint.
How does hyaluronic acid work?
Hyaluronic acid can bind a large number of water molecules and is an important component of normal joint fluid. It is viscous in consistency which appears lubricating on the trail. It also has a high viscosity which makes it appear shock-absorbing under load. Hyaluronic acid also helps to transport nutrients to the cartilage and to remove waste products from the cartilage.
In a healthy joint, the synovial fluid and cartilage contain a high concentration of hyaluronic acid. It is composed of several sugar units and forms long chains that bind large amounts of water into a complex network. In the healthy joint, hyaluronic acid plays a major role in nutrient exchange and also binds to the joint surface, reducing friction between the joint surfaces. You could say that hyaluronic acid is the plaster of the joint, protecting the surfaces from damage.
Molecular weight is crucial for the effect of hyaluronic acid. Molecular weights from 1 million Daltons upwards have been shown to have positive effects in the joint and can contribute to the production of new hyaluronic acid by the joint capsule cells. Daily supplementation with high molecular weight hyaluronic acid can help maintain the joint's content of high quality synovial fluid.
How is hyaluronic acid absorbed from the intestine?
There are specific receptors (CD44 receptors) in the intestine that take up hyaluronic acid into the blood.
How does hyaluronic acid reach the joints?
The hyaluronic acid molecule reaches the joint via the blood and attaches to specific CD 44 receptors in the joint capsule.
This makes it possible to administer hyaluronic acid orally with good effect. On the one hand, HA reaches more joints than if it is given locally by injection and, on the other, it avoids the risk of infection that is always present when injected into the joint.
How does hyaluronic acid affect the skin?
Hyaluronic acid is normally found in the connective tissue under the skin throughout the body. It contributes to smooth and elastic skin. When hyaluronic acid breaks down, it loses its water-carrying capacity and the skin becomes drier. By the time we are around 45-50 years old, the body can no longer replenish hyaluronic acid at the same rate as it is broken down. It can then be helpful to take HA supplements to combat dryness and wrinkles. Many people take the supplement much earlier to maintain a youthful complexion. It is individual from person to person when the skin starts to age. It depends on your genes, how much you sunbathe and smoke, what food you eat and how much you exercise. It is therefore not possible to say a specific age when the body starts to need hyaluronic acid supplements.