Hyaluronic Acid Supplements

Hyaluronic Acid for Skin and JointsHyaluronic acid (HA) is a highly polar polysaccharide that naturally occurs in the skin and connective tissues and is responsible for an array of physiological actions [1]. Despite having “acid” in its name, it is highly attractive to water.

HA exists pretty much anywhere in the body where there is fluid, such as synovial or joint fluid, cartilage, and the aqueous environment of the eyes. It is secreted by fibroblasts – cells that maintain our connective tissues – and is the main compound found in the extracellular matrix that gives structure to our cells [2].

As our cells age naturally or due to exposure to oxidizing chemicals such as UV rays and alcohol, our bodies produce less hyaluronic acid, leading to multiple signs of ageing – wrinkles, painful joints, vision loss…

Here are some ways that hyaluronic acid works in the body and how additional supplementation may be beneficial:

Hyaluronic Acid for Osteoarthritis & Joint Pain

Hyaluronic acid is an important compound in synovial fluid – this stuff fills the inside of the joints and cartilage where it acts as a protective film around each cartilage cell, or “chondrocyte”. As a major component of this fluid, hyaluronic acid keeps the joints lubricated and enhances shock absorption [3].

In joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, synovial fluid and particularly hyaluronic acid levels are reduced, leading to an increase in stiffness and decreased mobility. Hyaluronic injections arthritic joints have been shown to improve range of movement and even relieve pain – hyaluronic acid may even act as an alternative to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) [3][4].

If a joint injection isn’t your idea of fun, don’t worry – oral hyaluronic acid supplementation has been shown to improve osteoarthritis, too. A double-blind placebo-controlled study showed that a dose of 200mg of hyaluronic acid per day for two months significantly improved osteoarthritis symptoms in people under the age of 70 [17], and a 2016 review concluded that 240mg or less per day can reduce arthritic pain [18].

  • A 2017 study showed that hyaluronic acid treatment may postpone the need for knee replacement in people with osteoarthritis [6].
  • Hyaluronic acid has been shown to improve the outcome of other osteoarthritis treatments. A 2016 study concluded that mesenchymal stromal cell therapy is more effective when hyaluronic acid is included [7].
  • When combined with L-glutathione, hyaluronic acid helps to regulate immune cells in osteoarthritis to relieve symptoms and prevent further destruction of the joint [8].

Hyaluronic acid is featured as an ingredient in many joint supplements in addition to things like MSM, Chondroitin, SAM-e, etc.

Hyaluronic Acid for Skin Healing and Cosmeceuticals

For centuries, humans have been on the lookout for the perfect potion to maintain, sustain and retain our youthful appearance. We mere mortals continue on our quest to find the Eternal Fountain of Youth. Through trial and error, we have applied a plethora of weird and wonderful ingredients onto our skin to avoid wrinkles. Hyaluronic acid is the latest breakthrough.

Hyaluronic acid has the ability to hold up to 1,000x its weight in water (yep – one thousand times!). One gram is reputed to hold six litres of water. It is essential for the hydration of the skin (and a key ingredient in high quality moisturizers) [12]. It is also required for collagen and elastin to do their job in plumping and tightening the skin.

Our skin contains its maximum hyaluronic concentration through our teens and twenties but as our skin ages, there is less production of fibroblasts and less secretion of hyaluronic acid [2]. Topical and oral application may help to restore levels. HA is widely used in the cosmetic industry to treat naturally aged and sun-aged skin, as it helps to lock hydration directly into the skin, making it look soft, plump, dewy and youthful.

Other interesting points on hyaluronic acid for skin:

  • Hyaluronic acid has an antioxidant protective effect against UV radiation, preventing further damage to skin cells and signs of ageing [13]
  • Skin cell inflammation and death occurs in chronic alcohol abuse, and hyaluronic acid supplementation has been shown to be beneficial to reduce the aesthetic symptoms of chronic alcohol abuse [14].
  • Hyaluronic acid is also essential for wound repair, burn healing, and post-surgical recovery.

NOTE: Hyaluronic acid comes in “high molecular weight” and “low molecular weight” formulations. The lower the molecular weight, the easier topical applications can penetrate and retain moisture in the deepest levels of the skin. You’ll find that the lower the molecular weight, the higher the price tag…

Advances in Cancer Therapy

Hyaluronic acid has become a promising intervention regarding cancer therapy. Research has demonstrated that hyaluronic acid binds to a protein called CD44 very easily. This protein sits in the cell membrane and is involved in cell-to-cell signaling and communication – a process that is normally tightly regulated to prevent overgrowth of cells.

CD44 is over-expressed on cancer cells and cancer stem cells, leading to excessive cell communication – the signals sent between cancer cells sound something like “grow! Keep dividing! Grow more!”. By easily binding to CD44, hyaluronic acid prevents the over-expression of the protein, regulates cell communication, and may even help to deliver cancer drugs to their targets [9], [10].

Encapsulating the cancer drug in a hyaluronic acid formula has been shown to improve the drug’s delivery to the cancer cells [11]. Other in vitro/in vivo studies have shown that hyaluronic acid acts as a beneficial drug-carrier to take the cancer drug straight to the cancer cells [10].

Other Uses for Hyaluronic Acid

  • Cataracts and dry eyes
  • All inflammatory conditions
  • Interstitial cystitis and urinary tract infection pain, urgency and frequency in addition to recurrence
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux [15] [16]

How To Take Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is available in a plethora of skincare systems, as well as oral preparations in capsules, powders or tablets. Doctors can administer joint injections, and cosmetic surgeons can plump up the skin with hyaluronic-infused dermal fillers.

NOTE: Most hyaluronic acid is derived from animals, so is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

Oral doses of 100mg – 200mg per day are effective and generally safe.

Time to get our hands on the readily available fountain of youth! We’ll be bounding across fields with our slippery, flexible joints and youthful glow in no time!


Hyaluronic acid may cause some redness and inflammation at the site of injection if being used for osteoarthritis or as dermal fillers. This should only be temporarily.

Overall, hyaluronic acid seems to be well tolerated internally and topically by most adults.

Do NOT take or use hyaluronic acid if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Consult your doctor before using hyaluronic acid if you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Active infections
  • Immune diseases
  • Allergies of any kind, particularly to acids

Speak to a qualified nutritionist or naturopath for personalised advice on dosage and forms of hyaluronic acid for your condition.

Top 5 Hyaluronic Acid Supplements & Formulas

#5 Deva Nutrition Vegan Hyaluronic Acid (100mg, 90 capsules)

Deva Hyaluronic Acid SupplementDeva Nutrition have developed a plant-derived, fermented hyaluronic acid supplement that also happens to be one of the cleanest products we could find – no added nasties, just hyaluronic acid and magnesium stearate in a cellulose capsule. The bacteria used in the fermentation process is non-GMO and non-hemolytic, and the supplement is free from gluten, yeast, soy, and other common allergens. Each capsule contains a therapeutic dose of 100mg of HA – just one capsule will give you a standard therapeutic daily dose.

#4 Hyalogic Chewable Lozenges (60mg, 60 lozenges)

Hyaluronic Acid ChewsThese delicious lozenges deliver a good dose of 60mg of hyaluronic acid – two a day meets a therapeutic dose, and we couldn’t think of an easier, more convenient way to take your daily HA. With xylitol and stevia as sweeteners and all-natural berry flavour, there’s nothing nasty to worry about in these ingredients. Hyalogic use vegetarian-friendly hyaluronic acid and their products are all gluten free.

#3 Baxyl Joint Relief (30mg, 6oz)

Liquid Hyaluronic AcidBaxyl have created a liquid formulation of their patented vegan-friendly MHB3 Hyaluronan. Because of its high molecular weight, the hyaluronic acid in this formula should be more bioavailable than other supplements, meaning that you need to take less for the same effects. Each standard dose only requires ½ teaspoon of liquid. With this liquid formula, Baxyl gives you the option to fine-tune your dose. It’s easy to take, and it doesn’t taste too bad, either.

#2 Amazing Formulas Hyaluronic Acid (100mg, 120 capsules)

Hyaluronic Acid SupplementsThis hyaluronic acid supplement from Amazing Formulas has incredible anecdotal reviews – just keep in mind this one is animal-derived. Each capsule contains 100mg of high quality hyaluronic acid, manufactured under GMP practices in the USA, with no traces of common allergens. Just one capsule a day will deliver a therapeutic dose, or you can take 2 for a higher dose.

View Amazing Formulas Hyaluronic Acid on Amazon

#1 Passport to Organics Vegan Hyaluronic Acid (100% of 1%, 2oz)

Passport Liquid Hyaluronic Acid SyrumPassport to Organics use the highest percentage of hyaluronic acid available in the skincare industry – a 100% pure 1% solution of hyaluronic acid. (Note: any company claiming higher than this is using some marketing spin – anything more than 1% is harmful to the skin and not allowed in cosmetic products). This serum is super pure with limited ingredients – just hyaluronic acid suspended in a nourishing aloe vera juice serum with natural vitamin C as a preservative. Passport to Organics never test on animals, and use organic ingredients that are totally vegan.

If you’re looking for a high concentration hyaluronic acid serum that’s good for you and the planet, you’ve found it.

View Passport Hyaluronic Acid Serum on Amazon

Further Readings:

  • [1] Hu, D., Mezghrani, O., Zhang, L., Chen, Y., Ke, X., & Ci, T. (2016). GE11 peptide modified and reduction-responsive hyaluronic acid-based nanoparticles induced higher efficacy of doxorubicin for breast carcinoma therapy. International Journal Of Nanomedicine115 125-5147. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27785019
  • [2] Prikhnenko, S. (2015). Polycomponent mesotherapy formulations for the treatment of skin aging and improvement of skin quality. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology8, 151–157. http://doi.org/10.2147/CCID.S76721
  • [3] Moreland, L. W. (2003). Intra-articular hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) and hylans for the treatment of osteoarthritis: mechanisms of action. Arthritis Research & Therapy5(2), 54–67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC165033/
  • [4] Smith, M. M., Russell, A. K., Schiavinato, A., & Little, C. B. (2013). A hexadecylamide derivative of hyaluronan (HYMOVIS®) has superior beneficial effects on human osteoarthritic chondrocytes and synoviocytes than unmodified hyaluronan. Journal of Inflammation (London, England)10, 26. http://doi.org/10.1186/1476-9255-10-26
  • [5] Rayahin, J. E., Buhrman, J. S., Zhang, Y., Koh, T. J., & Gemeinhart, R. A. (2015). High and low molecular weight hyaluronic acid differentially influence macrophage activation. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering1(7), 481–493. http://doi.org/10.1021/acsbiomaterials.5b00181
  • [6] Delbarre, A., Amor, B., Bardoulat, I., Tetafort, A., & Pelletier-Fleury, N. (2017). Do intra-articular hyaluronic acid injections delay total knee replacement in patients with osteoarthritis – A Cox model analysis. Plos ONE12(11), 1-19. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0187227
  • [7] Gómez-Aristizábal, A., Kim, K., & Viswanathan, S. (2016). A Systematic Study of the Effect of Different Molecular Weights of Hyaluronic Acid on Mesenchymal Stromal Cell-Mediated Immunomodulation. Plos One11(1), e0147868. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147868
  • [8] Yang, K., Wu, C., Chen, W., Sumi, S., & Huang, T. (2016). l-Glutathione enhances antioxidant capacity of hyaluronic acid and modulates expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in human fibroblast-like synoviocytes. Journal Of Biomedical Materials Research. Part A104(8), 2071-2079. http://doi.org/10.1002/jbm.a.35729
  • [9] Cadete A, Alonso MJ. (2016). Targeting cancer with hyaluronic acid-based nanocarriers: recent advances and translational perspectives. Nanomedicine, (Lond) 11:2341–57. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27526874
  • [10] Hu, D., Mezghrani, O., Zhang, L., Chen, Y., Ke, X., & Ci, T. (2016). GE11 peptide modified and reduction-responsive hyaluronic acid-based nanoparticles induced higher efficacy of doxorubicin for breast carcinoma therapy. International Journal Of Nanomedicine,115, 125-5147. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27785019
  • [11] Zhong, Y., Meng, F., Deng, C., Mao, X., & Zhong, Z. (2017). Targeted inhibition of human hematological cancers in vivo by doxorubicin encapsulated in smart lipoic acid-crosslinked hyaluronic acid nanoparticles. Drug Delivery24(1), 1482-1490. http://doi.org/10.1080/10717544.2017.1384864
  • [12] Baumann, L. (2007), Skin ageing and its treatment. J. Pathol., 211: 241–251. http://doi.org/10.1002/path.2098
  • [13] Avadhani, K. S., Manikkath, J., Tiwari, M., Chandrasekhar, M., Godavarthi, A., Vidya, S. M., & … Mutalik, S. (2017). Skin delivery of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and hyaluronic acid loaded nano-transfersomes for antioxidant and anti-aging effects in UV radiation induced skin damage. Drug Delivery24(1), 61-74. http://doi.org/10.1080/10717544.2016.1228718
  • [14] Donejko, M., Rysiak, E., Galicka, E., Terlikowski, R., Głażewska, E. K., & Przylipiak, A. (2017). Protective influence of hyaluronic acid on focal adhesion kinase activity in human skin fibroblasts exposed to ethanol. Drug Design, Development And Therapy, 11669-676. http://doi.org/10.2147/DDDT.S125843
  • [15] De Vita, D., Antell, H. & Giordano, S. (2013). Effectiveness of intracesical hyaluronic acid with or without chondroitin sulfate for recurrent bacterial cystitis in adult women: a meta-analysis. International Urogynecologyl Journal, 24(4), pp: 545-52. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00192-012-1957-y
  • [16] Palmieri, B., Merighi, A., Corbascio, D., Rottigni, V., Fistetto, G. & Esposito, A. (2013). Fixed combination of hyaluronic acid and chondroitin-sulphate oral formulation in a randomized double blind, placebo controlled study for the treatment of symptoms in patients with non-erosive gastroesophageal reflux. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 17(24), pp: 3272-8. Retrieved from http://www.europeanreview.org/article/6160
  • [17] Tashiro, T., et al. (2012) Oral Administration of Polymer Hyaluronic Acid Alleviates Symptoms of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study over a 12-Month Period. ScientificWorldJournal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512263/
  • [18] Oe, M., et al. (2016) Oral hyaluronan relieves knee pain: a review. Nutr J., 15:11, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4729158/
About James Lyons

James Lyons (BHSc Nutritional Medicine) is a clinical nutritionist, medical writer, and educator. He specialises in plant-based nutrition and is passionate about improving public access to reliable and accurate health information.

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