The natural anti-aging weapons: Hyaluronic acid, coenzyme Q10 and glutathione

It's Time to Glow: glow from the inside and the outside

Anyone who has ever taken a closer look at cosmetic products cannot avoid hyaluronic acid and Q10. These active ingredients are an integral part of almost all beauty products and promise to care for and protect the skin.

The skin is our largest organ, which continues to change throughout life. Environmental influences such as UV radiation, air pollution, but also stress and lack of sleep have a negative effect on cell respiration and almost support the aging process. Therefore, especially in the topic of anti-aging the sentence proves itself: Prevention is better than cure!

What will you learn in this guide?

1. The power of hyaluronic acid
2. Coenzyme Q10 as an important energy carrier
3. The master antioxidant glutathione
4. Conclusion

 1. The power of hyaluronic acid 

By nature, hyaluronic acid is formed independently by the human body and is found in almost all types of tissue. It is mainly found in connective tissue, synovial fluid and skin. A particularly high proportion is also found in cartilage tissue, intervertebral discs, joints and in the eyes.

Multiple uses for skin and bones

At the molecular level, hyaluronic acid is a chain of disaccharides containing an amino sugar. These chains are able to bind an enormous amount of water, forming a thick jelly in our joints. This substance acts as a kind of shock absorber and supports the mobility and mobility of the joints. In addition, the body's own substance is involved in human wound healing.

Since the acid is of central importance for the human synovial fluid, many doctors inject it directly into joints damaged by osteoarthritis. Likewise, hyaluron is also used as a gentler Botox alternative for wrinkle injections.

And taking hyaluron orally also has the potential to help with knee osteoarthritis. A 2012 study in The Scientific World Journal confirms this. In the study, a total of 60 subjects over the age of 50 were tested for over a year. Half of the participants were given 200 mg of hyaluronic acid daily, while the other half received only a placebo. In addition, all subjects were asked to perform special exercises every day to strengthen the quadriceps muscles. Both groups achieved an improvement over the study period. However, the improvement was significantly greater in the hyaluron group compared to the participants who received the placebo[1].

The natural beauty booster

Hyaluron is not only used in the area of joint health. Since the acid is also found between the skin cells, it is a component of the connective tissue along with collagen. Here, hyaluron ensures firmness and a healthy moisture content. The acid is also involved in UV protection of the skin. About half of the hyaluronic acid present in the entire body is found in the skin[2].

Not only do factors such as UV radiation, smoking and air pollutants contribute to skin dehydration, but with increasing age the content of hyaluronic acid in the skin also steadily decreases. The organism can no longer produce the body substance in sufficient quantities, the skin loses elasticity and firmness, the body's own UV filter diminishes and the first wrinkles appear [3][4][5].

However, the amount of hyaluron in connective tissue and extracellular matrix is of great physiological importance. The older we get, the more the quantity and quality of hyaluronic acid decreases and its function as a water-binding substance is reduced. While the content of hyaluronic acid in the body is still 0.33% in 19- to 47-year-olds, it is only 0.015% in 60-year-olds and even only 0.007% in those over 70 [6]. Without a sufficient supply of hyaluron, new collagen formation and collagen storage are not possible. Therefore, hyaluron has been used in numerous skin creams for years[7].

The promise of effectiveness in the fight against wrinkles

In addition to this use, there are also promising indications that hyaluronic acid taken internally also has a positive effect on the skin. It has been found that hyaluronic acid can significantly increase the moisture content of the skin (on the face and body), which is particularly helpful for people with chronically dry skin[8]. In a 2017 study, hyaluronic acid (120 mg per day) was even able to reduce crow's feet (wrinkles at the corners of the eyes). In the study, a total of 60 subjects (ages 22 to 59) took 120 mg of hyaluronic acid in capsule form daily for a period of 12 weeks. The comparison group was given a placebo. 

During the study, wrinkle depth in the hyaluronic acid group decreased significantly after only 8 weeks. In contrast, no change was observed in the placebo group [9]. Hyaluronic acid is a popular nutrient in the beauty industry for a reason.

Vegan hyaluronic acid

Typically, hyaluronic acid is derived from animal source materials such as rooster combs. Here, allergic reactions can quickly occur, for example if there is an allergy to bird proteins. In addition, it is not a vegan source. Therefore, care should be taken to ensure that it is a vegan formulation. This is usually obtained by fermentation!

2. Coenzyme Q10 as an important energy carrier.

Coenzyme Q10 is gaining more and more attention in both the health and beauty sectors.

It is one of the vitaminoids that fulfill similar functions in the body as vitamins and are produced independently by the organism. In its molecular structure it is related to vitamin E and K and has long been used as an additive in skin creams and various skin care products. The molecule also known as ubiquinone is an indispensable component of cellular respiration and serves as an influential antioxidant for our body. It is produced independently by the organism and is present in almost all of our body's cells, with the exception of red blood cells. Therefore, ubiquinone was also derived from the Latin word "ubique" = "everywhere".

Occurrence of Q10

The highest concentration of Q10 is found in the mitochondria, the power plants of our cells, where it is essential for cellular respiration. In addition, about 90% to 95% of the total adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is formed there. ATP is the universal energy carrier of our cells and thus also of our body. Therefore, the organs with the highest energy requirements, such as the heart, lungs, liver and nerve tissue, also have the highest Q10 concentration. Likewise, the nutrient is present in foods such as broccoli, but only in very small amounts of about 0.9 mg per 100 g.

Decrease in the body's own production in old age

A problem that goes hand in hand with the natural aging process: the body's own production of coenzyme Q10 declines steadily from around the age of 20. For example, the nutrient content in heart tissue in people between 77 and 81 years of age is only 43% of what is found in 19- to 21-year-olds in comparison [10].

At a young age, the body produces the nutrient itself in sufficient quantities. However, the body's own production can be limited by illness, stress, drug intake or a disturbance in the body's own synthesis and may in some cases no longer be sufficient to ensure optimal functioning of the body's own processes. An unbalanced diet can also limit the body's own production, as important vitamins and minerals needed for Q10 production are missing. Therefore, experts advise to act preventively.

Versatile use for athletes

In addition to a balanced diet, the right amount of exercise also supports the body's own production. While exercise is essential for a healthy body, competitive athletes can quickly become exposed to excess oxidative stress. As a result, many athletes are looking for a legal way to counteract this. One study has shown that taking Q10 during exercise can reduce oxidative stress and inflammation[11]. This also explains why it is used by numerous athletes to enhance performance. Because Q10 is not a doping agent!

Stop skin aging

The skin is an organ that constantly changes its condition through renewal processes. The energy demand of the cells responsible for this is covered by mitochondrial respiration, by ATP. In this process, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are inevitably produced as by-products. These disrupt cellular structures and macromolecules if they cannot be adequately buffered by antioxidant systems. The oxidative damage caused by mitochondrial ROS production has been identified as the molecular basis for several pathological changes, such as accelerated aging and cancer.

During aging-related and UV radiation-induced skin aging, mitochondria are the primary organelles affected. Studies are increasingly supporting the notion that there is a strong link between mitochondrial health and skin. It is believed that the positive effect of healthy mitochondria on skin, is due to either adequate ATP production or adequate protection from free radicals. Numerous bioactive compounds have been identified that improve mitochondrial functions and have been shown to be effective for aged and diseased skin. This continues to attract the attention of medical professionals and experts in the beauty segment[12]. As mentioned earlier, Q10 plays a central role in cellular energy provision in the mitochondria, acting as an electron transfer agent in the respiratory chain. In addition, Q10, similar to alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), acts as an antioxidant protective system. In particular, reactive oxygen compounds (radicals) are produced in large quantities in the metabolically active mitochondria, which is why the antioxidant protective function provided by Q10 is particularly important here [13].

Study proves wrinkle reduction

Q10 has been found to be effective against UVA-mediated oxidative stress in human keratinocytes (cells of the epidermis), in terms of preventing oxidative DNA damage. There is also evidence that Q10 can help counteract skin aging caused by sun exposure[14].

Furthermore, in a placebo-controlled double-blind study, a total of 33 healthy volunteers were administered 50 and 150 mg of Q10 (in a form with increased bioavailability) daily for 12 weeks. When professionally assessed, wrinkles were observed to be reduced and skin smoothness, micro-reliefs and skin firmness were improved. In addition, Q10 intake supported the skin to reduce the seasonal changes in viscoelasticity in winter. While improvement in wrinkles around the orbit was comparable for both Q10 groups, additional improvement in wrinkles in other facial areas (nasolabial folds, oral angle wrinkles, and upper radial lip wrinkles) was observed in the 150 mg group. In the 50 mg test group as well as the placebo group, there was no significant change in these wrinkles. Due to the small test group, the trial is not yet definitive proof that taking Q10 improves the appearance of the skin. However, it is an indication that Q10 can help to improve the appearance of the skin [15].

3. The master antioxidant glutathione.

This endogenous substance is present in almost all of our cells and is also a vital, as well as very powerful, endogenous antioxidant. Because glutathione (in reduced form) is such a powerful redox buffer, protecting our DNA and cell lipids as well as proteins from free radicals inside the cell, it is also known as a master antioxidant. Due to its strong antioxidant effect, it also supports the maintenance of vitamin C and E stores in the body[16]. The human organism produces this sulfur-containing tripeptide from glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine, in our detoxification organ, the liver, on its own.

In addition, the body's own substance can also be absorbed through food, such as meat, poultry, fish, fresh fruit and vegetables. However, there are no reference values for the exact bioavailability, i.e. the absorption in the body, of the glutathione contained in food. The recommended daily amount in the U.S. ranges from 3 mg to nearly 250 mg per day. On average, however, most people absorb about only 50 to 60 mg through food[17][18].

Influence on numerous bodily functions

Glutathione is also an important component for biotransformation. In this process, substances that cannot be excreted are bound and made water-soluble so that they can subsequently be excreted by the kidneys. Among other things, biotransformation eliminates xenobiotics (synthetic compounds foreign to the body, such as pesticides and pharmaceuticals) and heavy metals. Even though the body produces glutathione on its own in the liver, it can be difficult for the body to maintain healthy levels due to severe oxidative stress or else other stress.

Glutathione in the fight against the aging process

Age is another factor that has a massive impact on glutathione levels. As a rule, glutathione status in humans begins to deteriorate from the age of about 45, and declines particularly rapidly after the age of 60 due to the age-related decline in self-synthesis[19][20]. The loss of the protective function of glutathione inevitably increases oxidative stress, which in turn can have a negative effect on the aging process. It is believed, based on current research, that glutathione levels in the body have a decisive influence on aging[21].

Studies prove efficacy

A study from Denmark, in which the glutathione levels of people between the ages of 60 and 79 were compared with those of people between the ages of 100 and 106, produced an astonishing result: it was found that the glutathione levels from the group of over 100-year-olds were significantly higher than those of the younger comparison group. The 100-year-olds, who were in the best health, also had the highest glutathione levels [22]. Whether genetic factors or environmental influences played the decisive role here was not clarified, but the importance of the glutathione level for health was illustrated.

Natural protection against free radicals

Little research has been done on the skin effects of supplemental glutathione intake. Nevertheless, there are already first indications: a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study, which was scheduled over 12 weeks, shows that already 250 mg glutathione per day have positive effects on the skin. Thus, the glutathione group showed a tendency towards increased skin elasticity compared to the placebo group. A reduction in wrinkles was also noted in the glutathione group[23]. Therefore, further studies are currently being conducted to provide evidence. 

What is certain, however, is that glutathione serves as an important protection against free radicals and oxidative stress and has a positive influence on the human body at various levels.

4. Conclusion

Hyaluronic acidQ10 and also the strong antioxidant glutathione all have numerous positive effects on the human body. In the fight against cell aging and anti-aging, they serve as true heroes among dietary supplements and make your skin glow. Because let's be honest: don't we all want a healthy, fresh and youthful appearance?

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