Health Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Medically Reviewed by Jabeen Begum, MD on March 27, 2024
7 min read

Hyaluronic acid, or hyaluronan, is a substance naturally found in your body, including the eyes, skin, and joints.

An adult weighing 70 kg (about 154 pounds) has about 15 grams of hyaluronic acid in their body. Hyaluronic acid holds onto moisture and keeps tissues and joints lubricated.

Scientists can also make hyaluronic acid in a lab through bacterial fermentation. This lab-made version can help support your health in a variety of ways, and it's also become popular as part of skin care routines.

Hyaluronic acid foods

You can get hyaluronic acid from your daily diet. Foods don’t work as fast as serums or creams you apply to your skin, but they are cheaper and may provide more lasting benefits in maintaining and improving skin health without any side effects.

Bone broth is a major food source of hyaluronic acid, as hyaluronic acid is present in the bone marrow of meat. You can also eat foods that have plant-based estrogen called phytoestrogen. Research shows that phytoestrogens can increase the production of hyaluronic acid in your body. These foods include:

  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Grains
  • Peanuts
  • Chickpeas
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Fruits such as apples, grapes, plums, pears, and berries
  • Vegetables such as sprouts, cabbage, spinach, and hops
  • Teas such as black tea and green tea

Hyaluronic acid supplement

You can also take hyaluronic acid as a dietary supplement in pill or capsule form. It can help improve the health of your skin, eyes, lungs, joints, and bladder, among other benefits. Hyaluronic acid supplements are generally safe, but you should tell your doctor before starting them or any other supplement.

In a 12-week, randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled study, researchers found that people who took a 120-milligram hyaluronic acid capsule supplement each day saw improvements in skin moisturization and wrinkles compared to people taking the placebo pill. Plus, unlike the types you apply to your skin, pill forms don’t have preservatives or perfume that may cause irritation and skin inflammation. If you can’t get enough hyaluronic acid from food, you can consider taking supplements after speaking to your doctor about it.

Hyaluronic acid powder

Hyaluronic acid products, including dietary supplements and serums, may come in powder form. If you plan to take hyaluronic acid powder, you should mix it with water before drinking it, following the manufacturer's instructions. Likewise, before using hyaluronic acid serum powder, mix it with water as per the instructions on the product.

Hyaluronic acid serum

Hyaluronic acid serum is a mix of hyaluronic acid powder and water that you can apply to your skin to hydrate it. Research shows that it can increase skin hydration by up to 55%. Using it regularly can support your skin's health and appearance, and serums are easily available over the counter.

Hyaluronic acid has become a popular skin care treatment. While there’s little proof that it works as an anti-aging cosmetic product, you can get it injected into your face -- a treatment called a dermal filler -- to lessen wrinkles and add fullness.

Products claim that hyaluronic acid gels, creams, and serums fight wrinkles and aging while making your face look better overall. The evidence suggests that hyaluronic acid helps with soft tissue growth, prompts your body to make more collagen and elastin, keeps your skin moisturized, prevents tightness, boosts elasticity, and reduces scarring.

Hyaluronic acid is approved for use in some eye operations. It can lower inflammation and speed up healing from surgery. It can also help people with dry eyes. When used in eye drops or contact lenses, it can keep your eyes moistened and improve eye health.

Hyaluronic acid may be used as an ingredient in hair products such as hair oil, shampoo, conditioner, and hair spray. As hyaluronic acid acts as a humectant (something that helps moisture retention), it can help hair retain moisture, keep it hydrated, and even help revitalize it. While more studies on its use for hair are needed, you may see improved hair texture, less frizziness, and scalp benefits from using hair products with hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid injections, or viscosupplementation, may help with knee osteoarthritis . This form of arthritis results from a loss of cartilage, the spongy material that cushions your joints. 

Your doctor might suggest hyaluronic acid injections to ease the pain. It might take many shots of the gel-like form of hyaluronic acid before you notice results, but the benefits can last 6 months to a year. This treatment works best if you have mild to moderate arthritis.

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows up into your esophagus. It’s a symptom of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD ). Research suggests that hyaluronic acid could relieve the damage caused by stomach acid in your esophagus and promote a quicker healing process.

One study showed people who took hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate supplements along with acid-reducing drugs had fewer acid reflux symptoms than those who only took acid-reducing drugs. While the research looks promising, experts are still studying how hyaluronic acid treatment benefits acid reflux.

Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS) happens when your bladder walls become inflamed and irritated. This can cause sensitivity and pain. Intravesical hyaluronic acid, a treatment inserted directly into your bladder, might ease both the urge to pee and the pain linked to IC/PBS.

In one study, experts treated people who had IC/PBS with hyaluronic acid for 3 months. Their urge to pee during the night went down by 40% and their overall pain dropped by 30%. Their need for painkillers also went down.

Rarely, hyaluronic acid can cause an allergic reaction. Your doctor will ask you about allergies before they prescribe it.

Other hyaluronic acid side effects, mainly seen when you use the hyaluronic acid filler, include:

  • Pain
  • Bruising
  • Itching
  • Soreness
  • Bumps at the injection site
  • Redness
  • Swelling

These side effects usually go away within 7 days. Talk to your doctor if symptoms last longer.

If you use over-the-counter hyaluronic acid, carefully read the instructions and ingredients first.

Tell your doctor right away if you have skin infections, knee joint infections, or any other issue around the area where you plan to take hyaluronic acid injection. It could be unsafe to get the treatment. Similarly, it’s best to treat a joint effusion (too much fluid in your knees) before you use hyaluronic acid.

It’s also important to tell your doctor about any other medications you use. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs may interact with hyaluronic acid. Your doctor can change the dosage of your medications or take other safety measures before giving you hyaluronic acid.

Retinol is a type of retinoid, an active form of vitamin A. It's often used as a skin care and cosmetic ingredient to improve skin concerns such as uneven skin tone, wrinkles, dryness, fine lines, acne, pigmentation, and texture.

Retinol boosts skin cell production, helps exfoliate the skin, and helps your skin produce more collagen. It's available without a prescription and can be applied as a cream, serum, gel, lotion, or ointment.

Can hyaluronic acid and retinol be used together?

You can use hyaluronic acid and retinol together. Skin care professionals may even recommend the combination for younger-looking and well-nourished skin. Hyaluronic acid can also help reduce any irritation caused by retinol.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in your body. It holds onto moisture and lubricates your joints and tissues, providing many benefits for the skin, eyes, hair, joints, and other body parts. It's found in certain foods and is also available as a serum, cream, gel, lotion, supplement, filler, and powder. While it’s generally safe to use hyaluronic acid in its many forms, talk with your doctor before taking hyaluronic acid supplements.

What happens if you use hyaluronic acid every day?

Hyaluronic acid may improve the health of your skin, eyes, hair, and joints. Depending on the treatment you’re seeking, the form of hyaluronic acid may vary. For example, using an over-the-counter hyaluronic acid serum daily might improve the look of your skin. Before taking daily supplements in pill or powder form, you should talk with your doctor. Injections for joint pain can only be given to you by a health care professional.

What does taking hyaluronic acid do for the body?

Hyaluronic acid retains moisture and keeps your tissues and joints lubricated. It can help support the following areas of the body and conditions:

  • Eyes
  • Skin
  • Hair
  • Joints
  • Acid reflux
  • Bladder pain

Is taking hyaluronic acid orally effective?

Yes, some studies show that taking hyaluronic acid by mouth in a supplement form can help improve and maintain your skin health.