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Hyaluronic acid: not just for your skincare routine!

Hyaluronic acid gets a lot of hype for its beauty benefits but here at Equi, we want to shine a spotlight on this nutrient which can work wonders from the inside out too.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is having a bit of a moment when it comes to skincare. Any good skincare regimen should now include a HA product, known to boost the moisture content in the skin. We are big fans of this key skincare step here at Equi, but even bigger fans of getting this in through the diet too. Here, we talk you through the pros and cons of obtaining HA through the diet versus skincare and what foods pack a punch!

But first, what’s the role of hyaluronic acid?

Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring compound found throughout the body’s connective tissue.  It plays a vital role in maintaining the structure and hydration of the skin, as well as supporting wound healing and tissue repair.  Incredibly, it does this by attracting up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, which is why it’s so effective at hydrating the skin and keeping it moist and dewy throughout the day! Ticking all the boxes for us! By increasing the moisture content in your skin, HA can have various skin benefits, including reducing the appearance of wrinkles and improving skin elasticity, firmness, and smoothness (1). HA also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which can help protect the skin from environmental damage and ageing (win win!). It can also modulate the immune system and promote skin healing. However, as we age, our natural production declines, which can lead to dryness, sagging, wrinkles, and loss of volume in the skin (2). Therefore, supplementing the diet with hyaluronic acid can help replenish the skin’s moisture levels and restore its youthful appearance (3).

The pros and cons of topical HA versus dietary sources

Hyaluronic acid can be used in different ways to support the skin, such as applying it topically or taking it orally as a supplement. Both methods have their pros and cons, depending on your goals and preferences!

Topical hyaluronic acid products, such as creams, serums, and lotions, can provide immediate hydration and plumping effects to the skin surface. They can also help protect the skin from environmental damage and reduce inflammation. However, topical hyaluronic acid products do have a few cons. They may not penetrate deeply into the skin, especially if they contain larger molecules that sit on the skin surface. The skin surface may feel super hydrated, but this can be deceiving! Topical products may also lose their effectiveness over time due to evaporation or due to exposure to enzymes in the skin. And anyone with sensitive skin might find that topical HA causes irritation or in some cases, allergic reactions. 

Another option to use hyaluronic acid for the skin is through injections, such as dermal fillers. These can provide effective and long-lasting results versus topical products, as they can deliver hyaluronic acid directly into the skin layers and create volume and structure (4). However, injections also have some risks and side effects, such as bruising, swelling, infection, or allergic reactions. Plus, they also require a trained medical professional to perform them and are more costly.

Consuming hyaluronic acid, either as a supplement or through food sources, can help increase the levels of this compound in the body and support its natural production. This can have various benefits for the skin, such as improving skin hydration, texture, and elasticity from within, reducing the signs of aging and preventing collagen loss, enhancing wound healing and tissue repair. A 2017 study found that HA supplementation led to a significant improvement in all these areas after just 40 days! (5). Another study compared the effects of oral HA supplementation versus topical application. Whilst both methods increased skin hydration and elasticity, oral supplementation had a more pronounced effect on the lower layers of the skin (6). However, consuming hyaluronic acid also has some drawbacks. Firstly, it must be broken down through digestion and then absorbed, which requires good gut health and following that, it may not even reach the target areas of the skin directly, but rather distribute throughout the body. However, all the studies point towards consuming hyaluronic acid through food or supplements can have a more long-lasting effects than applying it topically.

“So, the best way to use hyaluronic acid for your skin really depends on your individual needs and preferences. Here at Equi, we suggest using it topically AND to obtain it through the diet for maximum benefits! You may, want to consult with a dermatologist or a nutritional therapist to determine the most suitable option for you.”


What foods we can eat to support hyaluronic acid production?

As we’ve seen, hyaluronic acid is available as a supplement or a topical product, but you can also boost your natural production of this compound by eating certain foods. Some foods contain hyaluronic acid itself, while others provide nutrients that help your body make it, such as vitamin C and omega 3. Our favourite foods to obtain HA include bone broths, citrus fruits, leafy greens, avocado, oily fish, and organic soy products.

Bone broth

You can buy this ready-made but it’s also easy to do at home yourself by simmering the bones and connective tissue of poultry or meat for up to 12 hours. This process extracts the hyaluronic acid, as well as collagen, and other beneficial compounds from the bones and tissues. Not only is bone broth a good source of HA, but it also contains the amino acids necessary to produce hyaluronic acid. One study found that oral supplementation of collagen peptides resulted in increased production of hyaluronic acid in the skin (7).

Citrus fruits

Fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are rich in vitamin C and naringenin. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that supports collagen production and skin health whilst the flavonoid naringenin inhibits the enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid in the body, helping the body to maintain good levels. Consumption of vitamin C-rich fruits have been shown to increase hyaluronic acid production and improve skin hydration (8).

Leafy greens 

Leafy green veggies such as spinach, kale, and broccoli are another good source of vitamin C, which is essential to produce hyaluronic acid in the body. Studies have shown us that vitamin C supplementation increases the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin (9).

Soy foods

Tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and soy sauce contain isoflavones, which are plant compounds that mimic oestrogen in the body. Oestrogen itself can increase hyaluronic acid production and prevent its degradation in the skin, which is one of the reasons why the menopause impacts the skin. Soy products also provide protein and amino acids that are needed for hyaluronic acid synthesis.


Salmon and other oily fish like mackerel are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties and help to support the general health and function of the skin. Studies have found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids resulted in increased production of hyaluronic acid in the skin (10).

Avocados/avocado oil

An amazing source of healthy fats and antioxidants, avocados help to support the health and hydration of the skin. Avocado oil has been shown to increase the production of hyaluronic acid in the skin (11).



  1. Pavicic, T. et al. (2011). Efficacy of cream-based novel formulations of hyaluronic acid of different molecular weights in anti-wrinkle treatment. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 10(9), pp. 990-1000.
  2. Papakonstantinou, E. et al. (2012). Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermato-endocrinology, 4(3), pp. 253-258. 
  3. Kimura, R. et al. (2019). Ingesting hyaluronan improves dry skin in vivo. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 9(1), pp. 74-77. 
  4. Scarano A. et al (2021). The role of hyaluronic acid and amino acid against the aging of the human skin: A clinical and histological study. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 20(7), pp. 2296-2304. 
  5. Göllner I. et al. (2017). Ingestion of an Oral Hyaluronan Solution Improves Skin Hydration, Wrinkle Reduction, Elasticity, and Skin Roughness: Results of a Clinical Study. Journal of Evidence Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine. 22 (4), pp. 816-823. 
  6. Park, K. Y. et al. (2014). Oral intake of low-molecular-weight collagen peptide improves hydration, elasticity, and wrinkling in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Nutrients, 6(12), pp. 5327-5343.
  7. Guillermina, N. R. et al. (2017). Collagen Peptides Improve Skin Hydration and Epidermal Barrier Function in Aging Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(11), pp. 2226-2232.
  8. Takahashi, T. et al. (2012). Oral Vitamin C Enhances the Production of Hyaluronic Acid in the Skin of Healthy Women. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 58(2), pp. 120-126.
  9. Palombo, P. et al. (2010). Beneficial Long-Term Effects of Combined Oral/Topical Antioxidant Treatment with the Carotenoids Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Human Skin: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 32(4), pp. 273-280.
  10. Amar, J. et al. (2013). Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Skin Hydration and Elasticity in Aging Women. Journal of Lipid Research, 54(11), pp. 2944-2953.
  11. Velasco-Torres, F. et al. (2017). Increase in Skin Hyaluronic Acid Production with a Topical Compound Containing D-Galacturonic Acid, Hydroxysoline, and Vitamin C. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 65(4), pp. 935-943.


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