Because of its highly desirable qualities in stimulating collagen production and as a moisturizing ingredient, hyaluronic acid is fast becoming a staple of the beauty industry. And while there is a plethora of products that make exaggerated claims with little scientific back up, hyaluronic acid appears to have solid scientific research behind its glowing promise.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid (HA)?

A naturally occurring compound produced by the cells, hyaluronic acid (HA) can be likened to grease used to lubricate moving parts. It is a kind of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) which is made up of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and a variety of other sulfates that have specialized functions depending on whether they are found in the cartilage and ligaments, bones, cornea, skin, tendons, lungs, blood vessels, heart valves or cell membranes.

Why Is Hyaluronic Acid Important?

In cars and other machines that have constantly moving parts, friction needs to be eliminated because the rubbing together of parts build up heat which in turn leads to deterioration. Similarly, as HA acts as the body's grease, we need plenty of it so the body's vital operations, such as delivering nutrients to cells and removing toxins away from cells that lack blood supply, are carried out smoothly. Breakdown in this process can lead to a host of problems in the body.

What Happens If There is Not Enough HA in the Body?

Because HA can be found most concentrated in a few select areas of the body, lack of sufficient levels of HA can lead to detached retinas, joint deterioration and the most dreaded of all in as far physical appearance is concerned, wrinkles.

The presence of HA in the skin and synovial fluid around articulating joints also explains why you need to have your bones checked if you have unusually deep wrinkles, as this might signal that you are at higher risk in developing arthritis.

What Is The Role Of HA In Achieving Younger Looking Skin?

Hyaluronic acid not only keeps the joints well oiled, it also promotes water retention in bodily tissues to prevent dehydration, most especially in the fluid-filled space between cells. High levels of HA in the body attracts moisture into this cavity, keeping collagen and elastin - two of the most important structures that make the skin supple - moist.

Understandably, if your body does not produce enough HA, your skin will suffer from dryness, sagging, lines and wrinkles.

How Can You Help Your Body Produce More Hyaluronic Acid?

Intake of HA supplements is possible, but if you want to go natural, you may well learn from the experience of Japanese nonagenarians from whom the discovery was first made. Living in a small village about a couple of hours outside of Tokyo, many elderly citizens in the area are not plagued by the usual complaints associated with aging in the United States. According to local doctors who examined their lifestyle, the villagers' primary reason for their longevity, and not looking their age, is their diet (despite some of them indulging in what is usually thought of as vices like smoking).

The youthful appearance and good health of the villagers can be traced to their diet of starchy tubers such as sweet potatoes, the regular potatoes, imoji (a potato root), and a gelatinous substance made from root vegetables known as konyako. According to local doctors, this food group encourages the body's natural production of hyaluronic acid.

If these can’t be found in your produce aisle, stick to raw foods that are high in zinc like beets, spinach and beans, and magnesium (crucial to HA synthesis) like tomatoes, apples, strawberries, pineapples and avocados.