Support Healthy, Supple Skin and Joints With Hydro-Loving Hyaluronic Acid and MSM
As we age, many symptoms pop up that are seemingly unrelated but actually stem in part from one root cause: low moisture in the body. From skin wrinkles to joint stiffness to dry eyes, many areas of our body are affected by dehydration. With about 60% of the human body comprised of water, it’s no surprise that we require plenty of H2O to live a long and healthy life. But being well-hydrated comes from more than just chugging water — we also need to maintain healthy internal levels of water-loving compounds, like hyaluronic acid.
Declining levels of hyaluronic acid, a type of sugar that holds up to 50 times its weight in water, commonly occur with age and affect internal moisture. Hyaluronic acid injections, creams, and serums are becoming more and more popular in the field of anti-aging in the skin. However, oral formulations of the compound are also beneficial for skin and joint health — especially when combined with MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), a sulfur-based molecule known for supporting healthier inflammatory responses. When incorporated together, hyaluronic acid and MSM support your body’s internal hydration levels, helping to keep your skin and joints supple and strong as you age.
Hyaluronic Acid and MSM 101
Hyaluronic acid (sometimes called hyaluronan) is a molecule known as a glycosaminoglycan — a type of sugar with long chains of carbohydrates linked together. About half of the body’s hyaluronic acid content is found in the skin, but its levels start to decline as early as age 20. By age 50, the skin’s hyaluronic acid concentration is reduced by half compared to one’s adolescent and teenage years.
In addition to the skin, hyaluronic acid plays a role in cell division, eye health, and articular cartilage structure, the smooth tissue that covers the ends of bones where they come together to form joints. Hyaluronic acid is also a crucial component of synovial fluid — a thick liquid between joints that cushions them and reduces friction when you move.
Although we produce hyaluronic acid naturally, about one-third of the 15 grams found in the average adult degrades each day. This degradation suggests a role for hyaluronic acid supplementation — especially when considering the additional decline in older adults.
The second component of this synergistic supplement is MSM, a compound naturally occurring in humans, plants, and animals. It’s commonly used as a dietary supplement to support healthy joints and fight internal inflammation. MSM also reduces oxidative stress — an unhealthy accumulation of pro-oxidant compounds that damage our cells and contribute to aging.
Top 3 Benefits of Supplementing with Hyaluronic Acid and MSM
1. Healthy Skin Support
As approximately half of our body’s hyaluronic acid stores are found in the skin, this compound is vital for retaining skin moisture and integrity. Without internal moisture, skin can become wrinkled, dry, thin, sallow, crepey, and more prone to injury or damage. We know that aging reduces hyaluronic acid content in the skin, but environmental exposures like UV damage from the sun, tobacco smoke, or pollution can also lower its levels.
While there are many studies about injections or topical application of hyaluronic acid, few have researched how the compound works when taken orally to affect the skin.
One recent trial looked at the effects of taking 120 mg of oral hyaluronic acid for 12 weeks in healthy Asian men and women between 35 and 64. Those who took hyaluronic acid had significant reductions in facial wrinkles and water loss with increased skin water content and elasticity. The treatment group started seeing beneficial results after eight weeks, although the effects were more pronounced after 12 weeks of supplementation.
Another study assessed the synergistic effects of hyaluronic acid with other compounds, including MSM. Women in their late 40s who supplemented with 200 mg of hyaluronic acid, 400 mg of MSM, and 500 mg of L-carnosine (a building block for proteins) for two months experienced several skin-related benefits. This included significant improvements in skin hydration and elasticity in the forehead and around the eyes and mouth, with a reduction in wrinkle depth around the eyes (also known as crow’s feet).
These recent studies provide evidence for oral hyaluronic acid and MSM in supporting skin health, especially in fighting back on age-related dryness, wrinkles, and lost elasticity.
2. Supports Joint and Cartilage Health
Hyaluronic acid’s presence in connective tissue and fluids reflects its essentiality in maintaining joint health. With increasing age (or injury), the protective articular cartilage between bones breaks down, causing the otherwise-cushioned joints to grind together. This leads to painful and swollen joints, most commonly occurring in the hands, knees, neck, hips, and lower back.
Doctors have fought back on this connective wear-and-tear for decades by attempting to increase levels of the gooey hyaluronic acid inside joints. While hyaluronic acid can be injected directly into joints for pain relief, recent research also points to the joint-related benefits of oral supplementation.
In a 12-month study of Japanese adults with knee joint pain, those under the age of 70 who supplemented with 200 mg of hyaluronic acid per day experienced significant improvements on a joint disease scale, including reductions in joint pain and stiffness. Similarly, an MSM supplementation trial found improvements in pain and physical function in people with knee joint disorders.
3. Supports Healthy Inflammatory Responses
Hyaluronic acid also plays a role in regulating inflammatory activity. In addition to supporting skin and joint health by providing hydration and lubrication, hyaluronic acid also indirectly benefits these areas by reducing inflammatory compounds and oxidative stress.
In cell-based and animal studies, hyaluronic acid inhibits pro-inflammatory signaling molecules called cytokines, which are implicated in aging and many chronic diseases. Supplementation with MSM has also exhibited inflammation-fighting effects, as seen in a study of healthy young athletes.
The Bottom Line
Hyaluronic acid is a vital compound for maintaining hydration in the skin, joints, and eyes, among other organs. Although our bodies naturally produce hyaluronic acid, its concentrations markedly decline as we age, contributing to joint pain, stiffness, wrinkles, lost elasticity, and other skin concerns.
Supplementing with hyaluronic acid and MSM supports skin and joint health by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage and providing necessary lubrication and moisture. As hyaluronic acid is found in virtually all cell types, researchers hope to uncover even more therapeutic uses for this water-loving compound. Whether consumed orally, used topically, or injected, hyaluronic acid is a valuable molecule for supporting tissues and organs with age, especially when combined with MSM.
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