A few months ago, a friend I had lost touch with for a decade contacted me. He was now doing CrossFit every other day. He had a reputation for being the toughest in the class, but he’s also the oldest. “I love the workouts and everybody respects how hard I train, but I am just not recovering in a day,” he explained. “I am already eating the Paleo Diet and taking a lot of supplements but it’s not enough. Can you go over my nutrition program and see what’s missing?’’
Two things I noticed right away were a lack of high dose vitamin C and hyaluronic acid (HA).
HA has been around for years—hundreds of millions to be exact. Back in the Silurian when the complex vertebrates evolved, they developed HA, a linear polysaccharide polymer of glucuronic acid and N-acetylglucosamine with an incredible ability to bind water to biological tissues. This versatile molecule is now found in connective tissue of all vertebrates, playing a key role in cushioning and lubricating the body. HA is especially abundant in the eyes, joints, skin, and heart valves.
Aging, smoking, diabetes, malnutrition, stress, chronic inflammation, and specific genetic conditions deregulate our ability to synthesize HA. Notice these conditions independently degrade connective tissue in our skin, arteries and joints, further increasing our HA requirement. Additionally, soluble connective tissue lacks in modern diets: we no longer eat tough meat with hides, tendons, gristle; or fish with bones and skin. Nor do we catch old tough roosters and game birds and stew them for hours. It’s a downward pro-inflammatory pain- and wrinkle-filled spiral.
In an injected form HA serves numerous biomedical applications including joint repair; eye, plastic and cosmetic surgery; tissue engineering; drug delivery. But these are literally “one shot” fixes. Until about two years ago almost all human research studies utilized specialized HA injections. However, reviewing 2014 data reveals a respectable group of human and animal studies showing significant positive benefits for oral HA supplementation. It is recommended for osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, healing cruciate ligaments from both minor damage and surgical reconstruction, post-oral surgery, and skin damage/aging. Recent animal studies mimicking postmenopausal osteoporosis indicate that HA slows bone resorption. Canine companions with joint dysplasia also benefit.
If you want your skin, joints, and arteries to look and feel young as long as possible, consider long-term oral HA supplementation. Currently HA is often combined with glucosamine, chondroitin, boswellia, vitamin C, Coenzyeme Q10, and more for joint and skin applications. While I have no issue with this, I personally take an independent supplement to make sure I have the highest quality and at least 300 mg/day.
Editor’s note: PubMed features literally thousands of studies on HA, especially over the last two years. To learn more about HA’s effect on osteoarthritis, visit http://1.usa.gov/1wth1Fc.