Hyaluronic acid – drink it, eat it, apply it to skin, bathe in it (jk)????

Dear Dr. Brandith, I have a question about hyaluronic acid, specifically in capsule form. I know that it's really good to apply HA onto the skin and, apparently, there are liquids that some people drink containing HA, but I wonder about all those HA supplements in a bottle -- which people take and swear that their knees are much better, their skin is now glowing, etc. Then, the HA supplements have these choices to make -- do you want the HA to also contain Collagen Type I, II and/or III, Denatured, BioCell or Hydrolyzed Type II Collagen, etc. Dr. Brandith, do you know if taking these pills do much, if any, good as raw materials/precursors working from the inside? Thanks very much, Laurie

Ok – great question and for sure I don’t have all the answers but…..here’s what I do know.

  1. There is good science that a topical hyaluronic acid (HA) preparation that is mostly HA is beneficial in maintaining better skin hydration because it binds water;
  2. There is good science that hyaluronic acid fillers (ones like Juvederm, Restylane, Voluma etc) have an excellent safety profile when injected correctly;
  3. There is good science that HAs injected into joints correctly can have a beneficial effect on joint pain and perhaps longer term effects.  This is done by orthopedic surgeons and rheumatologists;
  4. Eating it is another matter.   My question is …..is it actually absorbed by the gut (and not broken down) in a way that benefits the body?  We both need to do some research on this one.   Ignore the marketing claims and looks for actual science.
  5. Collagens are all quite large molecules and I’ve never seen any evidence that eating these supplements does any good.  Also, collagens from animal sources are known to sometimes cause allergic reactions.  If anyone knows something different about this, I’d love to hear it.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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