The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Supplements

What Should I Know About Them?

Hyaluronic acid is a substance found naturally in the human body. Classified as a polysaccharide (a type of carbohydrate molecule), hyaluronic acid occurs in high concentrations in the skin, joints, and eye fluids. A key function of hyaluronic acid is to help lubricate joints, skin, and the eyes.

Hyaluronic acid is also available in dietary supplement form. Since the body's hyaluronic acid levels decrease as you get older, hyaluronic acid supplements are said to treat or prevent age-related health problems.

Why Do People Use Hyaluronic Acid Supplements?

One of the most common uses of hyaluronic acid supplements is for osteoarthritis. In some cases, supplements formulated to treat osteoarthritis contain a combination of hyaluronic acid, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate.

In addition, proponents claim that hyaluronic acid supplements can help with the following health problems:

Hyaluronic acid supplements are also said to improve bone density and protect against osteoporosis, increase muscle strength, and enhance sexual function.

The Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid Supplements: Can They Really Help?

So far, very few studies have tested the effects of taking supplements containing hyaluronic acid. However, there's some evidence that hyaluronic acid supplements may offer certain benefits.

1) Osteoarthritis

In a study published in Rheumatology International in 2015, researchers examined the use of oral hyaluronic acid or a placebo for three months in people with knee osteoarthritis who were overweight.

At the study’s end, those who took the hyaluronic acid had significant improvement in pain, function, and the level of inflammation.

Another study, published in Journal of Medical Food, found that people with knee pain who took oral hyaluronic acid for four weeks had an improvement in knee pain compared to those who took a placebo.

2) Skin Moisture

Said to increase skin moisture content by having an effect on skin cells, hyaluronic acid has grown in popularity in Japan and Korea as a supplement for dry skin. A review published in Nutrition Journal in 2014 examines several Japanese studies that have reported that oral hyaluronic acid could moisturize skin.

Others Forms of Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid can be administered as an injection. Hyaluronic acid injections are most commonly used in the treatment of eye disorders, but there's some evidence that injected hyaluronic acid may also help treat temporomandibular joint disorder (a condition more commonly referred to as "TMJ"). Intra-articular injections, also called viscosupplements, are also used for osteoarthritis.

In addition, hyaluronic acid is used as a lip filler during cosmetic surgery.

Personal-care products containing hyaluronic acid are also sometimes applied to the skin to promote healing of burns and wounds. Some proponents claim that topically applied hyaluronic acid can moisturize skin and slow signs of aging in the skin.

Possible Side Effects and Safety

Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of using hyaluronic acid supplements. In one small 12 month clinical study, no adverse events were attributable to hyaluronic acid supplements.

Theoretically, hyaluronic acid taken orally may promote cell growth, and some researchers believe that oral formulations may be potentially hazardous for people with cancer.

Hyaluronic acid shouldn't be used as a substitute for standard treatment for any condition. Avoiding or delaying care can have serious consequences.

The Takeaway

While it may be tempting to try hyaluronic acid supplements if you have pain (or another condition), there haven't been enough large-scale clinical trials. If you're still considering using them, be sure to talk with your health care provider first to discuss whether it's right for you.

Sources

Jensen GS, Attridge VL, Lenninger MR, Benson KF. Oral intake of a liquid high-molecular-weight hyaluronan associated with relief of chronic pain and reduced use of pain medication: results of a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind pilot study. J Med Food. 2015 Jan;18(1):95-101.

Nelson FR, Zvirbulis RA, Zonca B, et al. The effects of an oral preparation containing hyaluronic acid (Oralvisc®) on obese knee osteoarthritis patients determined by pain, function, bradykinin, leptin, inflammatory cytokines, and heavy water analyses. Rheumatol Int. 2015 Jan;35(1):43-52.

Simone P, Alberto M. Caution should be used in long-term treatment with oral compounds of hyaluronic acid in patients with a history of cancer. Clin Drug Investig. 2015 Nov;35(11):689-92.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstances or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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