Hyaluronic acid supplements are made using artificial forms of a substance found naturally in the body. Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide (a type of carbohydrate) that is found in large amounts in the skin , joints , and eyes , providing lubrication and keeping tissues hydrated.
With age, the level of hyaluronic acid decreases. Therefore, as we age, hyaluronic acid supplements can help treat or prevent aging-related health conditions.
This article explains how hyaluronic acid supplements are used, their side effects, and their dosage.
Using hyaluronic acid supplements
One of the most common uses for hyaluronic acid is in the treatment of osteoarthritis , also known as wasting arthritis.
Some alternative medicine professionals claim that hyaluronic acid supplements can also prevent or treat a variety of other health problems, including:
Besides oral supplements, hyaluronic acid comes in other forms. This includes:
Some believe that oral supplementation has the same benefits as other forms. Research supports some of these claims better than others.
Hyaluronic acid is a liquid that helps hydrate the joints, among other things. An injectable form of hyaluronic acid called hyaluronan can offer short-term relief from pain and stiffness in people with severe knee osteoarthritis .
Although it is sometimes used to treat symptoms, injectable hyaluronic acid is not considered a first-line treatment for knee osteoarthritis.
Also, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons do not recommend hyaluronic acid injections for knee arthritis.
The benefits of oral hyaluronic acid are less obvious. However, several small studies have shown promising results.
A 2015 study published in Rheumatology International reported that a three-month course of an oral hyaluronic supplement called Oralvisc relieved obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. Among those who received Oralvisc, the researchers found:
- A drastic decrease in inflammatory proteins called cytokines .
- Higher concentration of hyaluronic acid in joint fluids.
Additionally, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Medical Food found that an oral formulation of hyaluronan had similar effects. Among 72 adults with knee arthritis who completed the study, those who took oral hyaluronan had:
- Lower pain scores
- Better sleep quality
- Significant reduction in analgesic use compared to placebo .
There is evidence that oral hyaluronic acid has anti-aging properties that improve skin tone and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
According to a 2017 study in clinical, cosmetic and research dermatology , after 12 weeks of oral hyaluronan treatment, 60 people with crow's feet experienced a reduction in the depth and volume of wrinkles. They have also improved the shine and elasticity of the skin.
The study used two different concentrations of hyaluronan, each at 120 milligrams (mg) per day. Interestingly, the results obtained with the highest concentration were similar to the results with the lowest concentration, but for a shorter period of time.
A 2017 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine also reported promising results with hyaluronic acid supplements containing biotin , vitamin C , copper , and zinc . Specifically, the study found that after 40 days, 20 women ages 45 to 60:
- Greater elasticity of the skin.
- Improved texture
- Reduce the depth of wrinkles
- 24% increase in skin hydration.
Possible side effects.
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the long-term safety of hyaluronic acid supplements. However, a 2016 review of studies in Nutrition Journal found that in the 13 reviewed trials of oral hyaluronan supplements, researchers reported no notable side effects in any of the participants.
However, these results should not indicate that hyaluronic acid is completely free from side effects. When injected, hyaluronic acid can cause:
In theory, the same side effects could occur with oral administration of hyaluronic acid. However, due to the lower dose, the symptoms are likely to be milder.
When to avoid
Hyaluronic acid is not for everyone. Some people at high risk for allergies, health problems, and adverse reactions should avoid taking the supplement. This includes:
- People with allergies : Because some forms of hyaluronic acid are derived from cockscomb, people with allergies to chicken feathers, whites, or eggs should use the supplement with caution. (Other forms of hyaluronic acid are made from bacteria.)
- People who have had cancer : You should avoid oral hyaluronic acid supplements if you have a history of cancer . This is because hyaluronic acid can promote cell growth and theoretically increase the risk of cancer recurrence , according to a 2015 study from Clinical Drug Investigation .
- Children and pregnant or lactating people : The safety of hyaluronic supplements for children and pregnant or lactating people has not been established. It is also unknown if hyaluronic acid can interact with other medications or supplements.
Dosage and preparation
Oral hyaluronic acid supplements can be found online and at drug stores, health food stores, and food supplement stores. Unlike injectable hyaluronic acid, no prescription is required to buy them.
Hyaluronic acid supplements are available in the form of tablets, capsules, or soft gels. In addition, there are liquid formulations with and without flavorings. Some OTC arthritis medications also contain a combination of hyaluronic acid, glucosamine , and chondroitin sulfate .
There are no universal recommendations for the correct use of oral hyaluronic acid. Some manufacturers recommend 200 mg a day, while others suggest 1000 mg a day.
Despite claims to the contrary, there is no evidence that higher doses of hyaluronic acid provide better results. Most clinical studies limit the daily intake of hyaluronic acid to no more than 240 mg.
What to look for
Nutritional supplements are not strictly regulated in the United States, so it is difficult to know which brands are reliable and which are not.
A sign of quality is the USP, NSF International, or ConsumerLab seal of approval. These independent certification bodies ensure that the ingredients shown on the product label are correct and clean. Only supplements voluntarily submitted for testing are eligible for certification.
Read the label
Always read ingredient labels to verify which ingredients you may be sensitive to, including gluten and other common allergens . If you don't recognize something on the list, ask your pharmacist.
If you are allergic to poultry or eggs, choose brands labeled "vegan" or "vegan." You'll also want to make sure the softgels are made with plant-based gelatin.
Hyaluronic acid supplements can be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool, dry place. Discard any product that has expired or shows signs of damage or deterioration due to moisture.
Some people use hyaluronic acid supplements to treat osteoarthritis and skin wrinkles. While doctors use injectable hyaluronic acid for short-term pain relief from arthritis, the benefits of oral medications are less well known. However, some small studies have shown promising results.
Get the word of drug information
If you are thinking of trying hyaluronic acid supplements, you may be wondering if they are safe and effective for your condition. Keep in mind that the chemical sometimes comes from men, so if you are allergic to chicken, eggs, or protein, this may not be the best option for you. Read the labels of the supplements you are planning carefully to make sure they are allergen-free.
Frequently asked questions
In general, yes, but you should avoid taking supplements if:
- You have an allergic reaction to chicken feathers, poultry, or eggs. Some forms of hyaluronic acid can come from the rooster's comb.
- You have a history of cancer. Hyaluronic acid promotes cell growth and could theoretically cause cancer to come back.
- You are under 18 years of age, pregnant or breastfeeding. The safety of hyaluronic acid supplements has not been tested for these groups.
Hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide that keeps body tissues hydrated and lubricated. It is a naturally occurring compound that is found in large amounts in the skin, joints, and eyes. With age, the level of hyaluronic acid decreases.