Breaking Down the Hyaluronic Acid Molecule
Recently, hyaluronic acid (HA) has leapt into the national consciousness. Its many applications in the health and beauty industries have people from all ages and walks of life truly excited.
But a century ago, this miracle molecule was virtually unknown. Then, in 1934, Columbia University scientists Karl Meyer and John Palmer first isolated HA from the vitreous humor of cow eyes. Meyer had already been working to decipher the riddle of HA, which he suspected was a far more dynamic molecule than many of his colleagues believed. Working with Palmer, he was able to isolate HA and begin to understand some of the vital functions it performs in the eye, joints, and connective tissue.
Science of Hyaluronic Acid
The name hyaluronic acid derives from the Greek word hylos (meaning glass) and uronic (the type of sugar found in HA). Despite having “acid” in its name, HA is actually a glycosaminoglycan (GAG)—a long chain of repeating pairs of sugar molecules (d-glucuronic acid and 2-acetamido-2-deoxy-d-glucose). The body uses these two sugars (commonly found in food) to build long-chain HA molecules. HA’s molecular form is expressed as (C14H21NO11)n and is depicted graphically as:
The defining feature of hyaluronic acid is its ability to bind water—one HA molecule can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water! When HA combines with water, it produces a thick, viscous fluid that our bodies use to cushion and lubricate joints, protect and nourish the cells and structures of the eye, support skin elasticity, speed skin recovery, and hydrate connective tissue.
Writing in the journal Glycobiology, Csoka and Stern theorize that vertebrates first began producing HA about 400 million years ago. This presumed it was likely as a way for the organism to transport material from one part of the body to another using the body’s own fluid as a sort of highway.
Because hyaluronic acid exists in the extracellular space, it also plays a role in the movement of substances between cells. The molecule’s affinity for water allows it to move freely about our bodies. By attaching to and detaching from receptors, HA is able to “unlock” a cell and transport substances needed elsewhere in the body for cell growth. It can also move through the extracellular space without being detected by (or triggering a reaction from) the immune system.
Hyaluronic Acid in Your Body
The average human has about 15g of hyaluronic acid at any given moment. Our bodies are constantly breaking down and resynthesizing HA molecules. When we are young, our bodies are able to quickly replace the HA that is lost. But as we age, the body’s ability to break down and degrade HA molecules begins to exceed its ability to replace them. As a result, a person in their 50s may make only half the HA their bodies produced when they were a teen.
Fortunately there is a solution. Dietary supplements and topical preparations rich in HA can help our bodies maintain the HA we lose as we age. Hyalogic’s array of consumable products use long-chain, high-molecular-weight HA—the kind our bodies already produce—so the HA you receive is in a form your body can use immediately to support the health of your skin, hair, joints, eyes, gums, and more. And because our HA is made via the fermentation process of non-animal derived matter, our products are free from animal byproducts and are vegan friendly!
Visit the Hyalogic products page and discover the difference Hyalogic can make in your life!