Here I’m going over hyaluronic acid supplements for the skin. I’m going to be covering the research behind taking hyaluronic acid in terms of skin benefits.
I’m going to be answering your questions about is it good to take hyaluronic acid.
The nutraceutical field is booming people are now more than ever motivated to take supplements to not only improve their health but also to improve the look of their skin.
There are a ton of them out there. Hyaluronic acid is up there along with many others.
Personally I don’t take hyaluronic acid pills.
Table of Contents
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
It’s a biopolymer and it’s found throughout the body, it’s all throughout your skin but it’s also in your joints, it lubricates the joints, it’s found in the heart valves. I mean pretty much every tissue throughout the body.
It binds onto water so it helps keep your skin hydrated, it gives the skin a bouncy glowy look. Smooths out wrinkles.
We start losing both hyaluronic acid and collagen in our skin as we get older, because it’s not only related to age-related change but due to all of those external environmental stressors that generate those free radicals that damage collagen and weaken the skin overall. That ultimately is what leads to wrinkles and compromised skin barrier function.
For example, at the age of 75, you’re going to have about a quarter of the quantity of hyaluronic acid in your skin that you had when you were 19.
Ingesting vs Topical Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is most well known for its water binding ability. It can bind a thousand times its weight in water.
You will find hyaluronic acid in tons of skin care products. Serums, toners, moisturizing creams, lotions, even sunscreens often will have hyaluronic acid or its salt sodium hyaluronate.
When you apply it to the skin, it holds onto water in the skin and that can have a wrinkle smoothing effect, but it’s temporary. So people are motivated to ingest it in the hopes of enhancing hydration in the skin, smoothing out wrinkles and plumping up the skin.
But how exactly would hyaluronic acid get into the skin? Is that even possible? Wouldn’t it just be completely digested in your stomach?
There actually are some studies that suggest that hyaluronic acid supplementation or dietary hyaluronic acid can be taken up from the digestive tract and localized to the skin.
A lot of these studies however are done in laboratory models and in mouse models, so be aware of that. We’re not cells in a dish, we’re not laboratory animals. We are people.
These lab-based studies suggest that dietary hyaluronic acid absorption may be influenced by its molecular weight.
For example, lab studies looking at monolayers of intestinal cells in a dish show that small molecular weight hyaluronic acid can pass between the cells.
There are some studies in lab animals that are able to label the hyaluronic acid and show that it localizes after ingestion to the deeper layers of the skin where presumably it’s going to help with hydration and plump up the skin.
The studies that we have on dietary hyaluronic acid are not just restricted to cells in a dish and lab animals. There are a few studies in humans that suggest potential benefit of dietary hyaluronic acid supplements.
A lot of these studies have been done in Japan and Korea. Specifically a lot of them have been done with a brand of hyaluronic acid Kewpie.
There’s a study of 52 Korean women age 30 that took 240 milligrams per day of hyaluronic acid with a molecular weight of 75 000. They took it for eight weeks.
The hyaluronic acid group had fewer wrinkles than the control group who didn’t take hyaluronic acid at the end of the eight weeks, suggesting improvement in wrinkles.
There’s also another study looking at 28 Japanese women aged 30 to 49 who had crow’s feet and they took same dose, 240 milligrams per day of hyaluronic acid. This time the hyaluronic acid was smaller. They took it for eight weeks and at the end of the eight weeks they showed a decrease in wrinkle depth of crow’s feet in comparison to the control group, suggesting again
improvement in wrinkles.
Last but not least, there’s a study that actually wanted to look at if there’s any difference between smaller versus larger molecular weight. This time it was 120 milligrams per day for 12 weeks instead of eight.
At the end of the study, while they did show that those taking the hyaluronic acid supplements had an improvement in wrinkles, smoother skin in comparison to placebo, it did not seem as though there was really any difference between the different molecular weights.
There are also some studies of dietary hyaluronic acid supplements that suggest improvement in skin dryness. So if you cope with a lot of dry skin that makes sense. Hyaluronic acid helps with skin hydration.
There’s still a lot of gaps in research though. We don’t really know what the optimal dose is and these studies are pretty small. It’d be nice to have larger randomized control trials of supplements.
But suffice it to say these studies do suggest that dietary hyaluronic acid is safe to ingest. There are no adverse effects associated with it. So if you want to take one, seems low risk.
And it does suggest that there is improvement not only in wrinkles but in dry skin with a hyaluronic acid supplement.
Because hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide, another potential benefit of ingesting hyaluronic acid is that it may help improve the gut microbiome.
There is an intimate connection between the gut microbiome and the cutaneous microbiome and a lot of times skin health is a reflection of gut health.
So part of the benefit of taking hyaluronic acid could potentially be related to the gut microbiome.
One thing about a lot of the hyaluronic acid supplements on the market is that they have other ingredients in them.
These particular studies I’m mentioning are looking just at hyaluronic acid, so we isolate that. But other supplements that you find have other ingredients that could also be beneficial for the skin. Things like vitamin C and collagen.
It’s possible that you see benefits from those supplements that maybe aren’t even related to the hyaluronic acid.
How Long Do You Have to Take Them?
Whatever benefit that you see with the supplement, you’re going to have to continue to take it long term to maintain that.
It’s likely going to take some time before you start noticing results. Nothing works overnight in the skin.
As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, I personally don’t take hyaluronic acid supplements.
I’m just not compelled to take a supplement.
Instead, I think it’s better to get your nutrients, building blocks for healthy skin from whole food sources in your diet.
But at the end of the day, it doesn’t appear to be harmful and it may improve the look of wrinkles, fine lines and improve dry skin.
That’s what I can tell you about hyaluronic acid supplements for the skin. I hope this was helpful to you.
Rebecca is a licensed aesthetician and certified laser technician with almost 15 years experience in the dermatology. Her life-long passion is making people look good and happy.