It’s no secret that what you eat can affect your skin. You might already try to eat foods high in antioxidants like vitamin A and vitamin E to help improve your complexion. However, there’s another nutrient you might not be as familiar with that can do wonders for your skin. Hyaluronic acid is a compound that occurs naturally in your body, and it is responsible for attracting and retaining moisture. It is thought to improve cell-to-cell interaction and promote collagen synthesis, which can prevent wrinkles and improve your skin’s texture.
Your body does make its own hyaluronic acid, but as you age, your production of it diminishes. Some people choose to inject hyaluronic acid as a dermal filler, which can help add volume to the skin. Others apply it topically, which won’t produce as dramatic or lasting results—as it can’t reach the deepest layers of the skin—but can still smooth the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
If you want to increase your levels of hyaluronic acid in other ways, you can look to your diet. There are a number of foods that contain the compound that can help your skin stay supple and smooth. Here are some foods high in hyaluronic acid, as well as some foods that help increase hyaluronic-acid production, that you should be eating.
Eating bone broth is your best bet when it comes to hyaluronic acid. “With the exception of animal products like chicken combs/cartilage (which is where supplements may be derived from), it can be tough to get direct sources of hyaluronic acid,” says Autumn Ehsaei, MS, RDN, LDN, CNSC, CLT, a nutritionist who believes in having a healthy relationship with food. “That being said, a bone broth that is made from many parts of the animal might have some benefit.” Because the bones are simmered in water over a period of 24 hours, it leaches nutrients, including hyaluronic acid, from the bones and adds them to the water.
“It’s thought that an increase of estrogen may help production of HA by the body,” says Ehsaei. Include foods like tofu, tempeh and edamame—which are all soy products that contain some estrogen—in your diet. Throw them in a salad, mix them in a stir-fry or nibble on them as a snack. “The great thing about these foods is that they are a fantastic source of plant-based complete proteins, are full of vitamins and minerals, and filling,” says Ehsaei.
“Some research indicates that starchier root vegetables may increase the production of HA by the body,” says Ehsai. These foods include potatoes, sweet potatoes and other tubers such as jicama and Jerusalem artichoke. “Luckily, those foods are also great sources of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A and vitamin C, all of which are great for our bodies,” she says.
Citrus fruits all contain naringenin, which inhibits the breakdown of HA in the body, according to dermatologist Margarita Lolis, MD. In addition to fruits like oranges and grapefruits, tomatoes and bananas contain naringenin as well. “Eating grapefruits with breakfast and snacking on oranges and grape tomatoes during the day will absolutely lead to more supple glowing skin in as fast as three weeks,” she says.
Here’s one more excuse to drink your green juice: Foods like leafy greens contain magnesium, which is a necessary catalyst to help with HA production in the body. Other foods that are high in magnesium include avocado, nuts, fruits and seeds. Salads loaded with all these ingredients are a great way to boost magnesium content while getting your fair share of other nutrients along with it as well.