Hyaluronic Acid: The Youth Molecule
Plump, elastic, hydrated skin is youthful skin, and youthful skin is plump, elastic, and hydrated because of hyaluronic acid (HA). HA is the component of connective tissue that provides cushion and lubrication. It’s the partner to collagen that binds the protein structure to elastin. Hyaluronic acid is like a sponge, capable of holding up to 1000 times its weight in water. Known as the beauty molecule or the fountain of youth, HA is abundant in our skin when we’re young, but with age, the molecules are less plentiful and smaller, so they hold less water in the skin.
According to a study published in the Dermato-Endocrinology Journal, “the most dramatic histochemical change observed in aging skin is the marked disappearance of epidermal HA.” Reduced hyaluronic acid means less lubrication in your joints and loss of skin elasticity. That translates to damage to cartilage and loose, wrinkled skin.
Additionally, UV exposure, injury, and nutritional deficiencies can decrease hyaluronic acid and accelerate signs of aging.
It would be nice if replacing skin’s lost HA was as simple as slathering on a cream as so many marketing claims would have you believe, but it’s not. The reason has to do with molecular size. Hyaluronic acid molecules are gigantic (about 3000 nanometers in diameter) relative to the space between skin cells (about 15 to 50 nm). Getting those molecules into the skin where they can effect change is like trying to park a car in a mouse hole. Not happening.
There is promising research into nan-hyaluronic acid, but in the meantime, the most effective way of getting HA past the skin barrier is through microinjection. There are, however, ways to increase your body’s production of HA through diet, supplements, and certain skin care ingredients that stimulate HA synthesis.
In the body, magnesium is required for the synthesis of hyaluronic acid. Eat food rich in magnesium to increase production of HA. Starchy root vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, beans, broccoli and fruits including banana, apple, oranges, pineapple, strawberry, peaches, and papaya all contain magnesium. Almonds and peanuts are also good sources of magnesium.
Foods that contain HA include oysters, shellfish, bone broth, animal liver, eggs, soybeans, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, seaweed, and yeast.
You can also take hyaluronic acid supplements.
In topical skin care, look for products containing oligopeptides, which stimulate HA and collagen production.
A 2017 Dermascope Magazine Aestheticians’ Choice Award winner, this exceptional age-defying serum is formulated with oligopeptides to stimulate the body’s production of hyaluronic acid, plus lactic acid and cell-supporting niacinamide to renew and protect skin radiance.
Protect and promote collagen and elastin production with this deeply therapeutic, HA-enhancing vitamin C & E serum.
Speed cell regeneration, brighten dark circles, reduce puffiness, and smooth fine lines with this antioxidant and nutrient-rich eye cream fortified with HA-stimulating oligopeptides.