Moisture: the antidote for aging skin, joints

There is one main reason why 20-something year-olds have youthful, supple, firm skin that bounces back after injury without any help from Shoppers Drug Mart – moisture.

Skin’s ability to retain moisture is key to a youthful complexion.

A study in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Carbohydrate Research found aging causes “the epidermis to lose its principle molecule responsible for binding and retaining water molecules, resulting in loss of skin moisture.”

This principle molecule, which retains moisture in the skin cells, and is also found in the joints to keep joints well lubricated, is hyaluronic acid (HA).

Over 50 per cent of the body’s HA is found in the skin, with a significant amount of HA in the dermis, the inner layer of the skin. When there is injury to the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin, the body naturally sends HA to the epidermis to aid in the healing process, according to the study Hyaluronic acid: a key molecule in skin aging.

About 80 per cent of facial skin aging is due to repeated and extended UV exposure, according to the study, which appeared in the scientific journal Dermato-Endocrinology.

UV-induced injury to the skin causes hyaluronic acid from the dermis to come to the rescue of the epidermis. Supplementation with a quality HA is one way to boost skin’s moisture to attain younger looking skin.

Hyaluronic acid significantly declines with increasing age, even in the dermis of UV-protected skin, a study in the Journal of Dermatological Science found.

Researchers note a number of conditions, including estrogen deficiency, cause the loss of HA from the dermis, resulting in skin aging.

Researchers also highlight the functions of HA as not only hydration, but also lubrication of joints and the framework for blood vessel formation. HA also activates inflammatory cells for enhanced immune response. They also note a correlation between hyaluronic acid levels on the “cell surface of cancer cells with the aggressiveness of tumors.”

One analysis in the journal Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism found injections of HA to be even more effective than NSAIDS in treating pain.

A 2008 study in the Nutrition Journal found that oral intake of a “high quality hyaluronic acid” is an effective treatment for patients with knee osteoarthritis.

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