What Is Citric Acid, and Is It Bad for You?

Thus is commonly seen in citric fruits like lemon and lime. It comes with a sour flavor. These days this acid is also available as cleaning agents and in the nutritional supplements and additive in food.
These are the manufactured form of citric acid which is different from that of the normal citric acid seen in the fruits.

You may wonder whether the manufactured form of this acid is good or bad for you. Right?

In this article, Addnutri gives you the exact and detailed information about the natural and manufactured citric acid, its uses, benefits, safety, etc.

What Is Citric Acid?

Citric acid was initially taken from the lemon. A researcher from Sweden in 1784 initially found this.

Until the 1900s people saw it as an odorless and colorless substance. But later, it was also discovered this

acid can also be extracted from black mold also when it is fed with sugar

Afterward, the researchers found that it can be also made from the black mold, Aspergillus niger which makes citric acid when it feeds on sugar.

Citric acid structure:

The chemical name of this acid is CHEBI:30769 – and the citric acid chemical formula is C₆H₈O₇. The  acid molar mass comes to 192.124 g/mol.

Citric Acid Monohydrate is present in citric fruits. It is a tricarboxylic acid. This acid is usually used as a preserving and souring agent due to its sour taste. With this sour taste, these are added in the beverages and sweets.

Citric acid is also used to preserve medicines and stabilize it as well as act as a disinfectant against viruses and bacteria.

Is it bad for you & what impact citric acid makes in your body?

The citric acid in your body can either do well or bad to you, below are some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of this acid.

Benefits of Citric acid

  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant

The citric acid formula itself says that it has great antioxidant properties as revealed by some scientific studies. It helps to combat oxidative stress. This is also good to reduce brain lipid peroxidation, inflammation, liver damage, etc. Consuming this acid will reduce inflammation from foods.

  • Alkalizing effects

This is an alkalizing substance that has an acidic taste. This means that it helps in counter actin the impacts of having more amounts of acidic foods such as processed grains and meat. These are foods high in alkalic acid which include minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, etc. The citric acid in fact helps in absorbing these minerals to the human body.

  • Improve endothelial function

It helps in improving endothelium which is the thin membrane formed inside the heart and blood vessels. Due to this, the immunity will be improved, vascular relaxation and contraction can be easier as well as raise platelet count.

  • Prevent kidney stones

These acids are good to prevent kidney stones which are formed due to acidic urine. Due to its alkaline properties, it prevents you from getting any new kidney stones by making the urine less acidic. It also prevents small stones to become large.

  • Helps in skin health

The content of alpha hydroxyl present in this acid is used in most of the skin and personal care products. This helps in promoting skin texture and its regrowth. It is also found in many anti-aging products like serums, creams, night creams, masks, etc. Citric acid helps to reduce aging, skin damage and oxidative stress.

  • Side effects of citric acid

Is that citric acid harmful to your body? The main concern would be the artificial citric acid manufactured which can give some negative effects. These are found in preserved foods which can give rise to some health concerns.

Here are some of its potential side effects:

  • Skin irritation

This acid can be found in many beauty products. If you have sensitive skin, the citric content in the creams can make skin irritation. If these are used in the cleaning products, you may get nose irritation also as it passes through the nasal passage and creates asthma symptoms.

  • Might have digestive pains

If you are having a low stomach acid, the citric acid content in foods and beverages can aggravate this pain. In this case, it is better to avoid acidic foods like lemon acid, limes, tomatoes, etc. This can increase the alkalizing effect on the body after the food is digested. Though acidic foods cannot create acid reflux or ulcers, it may trigger heartburn, acid reflux, etc.

  • Mold reactions

Though studies haven’t clearly shown that this acid is formed from aspergillus, it may impair the immune system or prone to allergies. However, it is not toxic in most situations.

Citric acid foods

Citric foods and juices have a natural content of this acid. Some of the citric acid foods are as below:

  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Tangerines
  • Pomelos

Other less citric acid content fruits are as below:

  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes

As you know, these fruits are mostly used in our daily foods and beverages in different forms like jams, ketchup, etc.

Citric acid anhydrous can also be considered as the byproduct of wine, cheese, the sourdough of bread, etc.

The citric acid that you see in the packed foods is not from natural citric foods. These are manufactured from the other sources as mainly due to the fact that extract citric acid in food from the natural fruits is expensive.

What is the common citric acid uses?

If you are thinking, what is citric acid used for then know that this acid uses are for a variety of things, which are as below:

  • Used to preserve foods due as it can stabilize the ingredients
  • To add a sour or citric flavour to foods or beverages
  • Acts as a chelating agent to keep up the food texture
  • A citric acid cleaner as it provides fragrance to cleaning agents, foods, beauty products, etc.
  • Act as pH adjusted and alkalizing agent
  • Help to buffer with ingredients
  • Act as an anticoagulant by chelating calcium in the blood

Are Citric Acid, Vinegar & Lemon Juice the same?

Bakers and chefs mostly use this acid recipe to add texture or taste and for many such reasons. The best thing about this acid is that it can balance the flavor of other ingredients also. Let’s also see what does citric acid does?

  • Is this acid is the same as vinegar? Are they different or not. Vinegar also has the acidic taste. However, these are not the same. The acidic content in this acid is more than in the vinegar. The pH content of vinegar is about 2.4 -3. Citric acid can be used as an alternative to lemon juice or vinegar.
  • This acid is also a good cleaning agent like vinegar and lemon juice. You can clean the surface areas of your home using citric acid. However lemon juice and vinegar are the mild acids can be used to clean dirty and greasy objects.
  • Lemon juice is also acidic with a pH of 2-2.6. So, lemon juice can also be used as a substitute for citric acid for foods and also for preserving foods like jellies, jams, pickles, sauces, etc. About 1/8 cup of lemon juice is equivalent to ½ teaspoon of citric acid. Both of these are used to reduce the pH level in the ingredients so that they can be safely stored for several days.

Ascorbic acid vs citric acid- Are these same?

Citric acid is a natural component present in many citric fruits. Is citric acid vitamin c? It is not treated as any mineral or vitamin which is essential for your diet. However, ascorbic acid is different from citric acid. Ascorbic acid is vitamin C and this is helpful for people with kidney stones.

Safety and Risks of taking citric acid

Manufactured citric acid is considered to be safe to take and less risky when used in the food products as suggested by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
No scientific studies exist researching the safety of manufactured citrus extract when consumed in enormous amounts for significant stretches.

In any case, there have been reports of infection and unfavorably susceptible responses to the added substance.

One report showed that the constant use of manufactured citric acid can contribute to joint pain, swelling, stomach pain and shortness of breath.

Scientists recognized that they couldn’t demonstrate the manufactured citrus acid foods answerable for the side effects however prescribed that its utilization in foods and drinks be additionally contemplated.

In either case, the researchers recommended that the indications were in all probability identified with the shape used to create the citrus acid instead of the compound itself
this Acid Supplements, Medications, and Dosages

Since citrus acid has a low pH, it is frequently utilized in dietary supplements and nutrients, since it can help with the assimilation of minerals and go about as an additive.

Citrus acid, potassium citrate or sodium citrate is drugs that need to be taken between or after dinner to help prevent stomach or intestinal reactions. If taking citrate in fluid structure, it ought to be blended in with four ounces of water. Continuously cautiously follow the instructions on your prescriptions to abstain from taking excessively.

It’s critical to increase your liquid intake and to remain hydrated so as to get the most by increasing your citrus acid use. Have in any event 10 eight-ounce glasses every day of water or other hydrating liquids, for example, homegrown tea, or considerably more in case you’re more dynamic or it’s hot. Also, attempt to abstain from eating high-sodium foods or utilizing heaps of additional table salt on your dinner.

Before you take citrus acid, make certain to talk with your primary care physician about your clinical history, particularly if you’ve had a kidney infection, heart disease, hypertension, a background marked by cardiovascular failure, urinary issues, diabetes, urine issues, or stomach ulcer or chronic diarrhea. Citrus acid supplements/prescriptions can also interface with acid neutralizers, heart or blood pressure medicines and diuretics.

Where to Find and How to Use Citric Acid?

The citrus acid powder used in cooking can be purchased in many cooking stores that sell things like home-canned supplies or on the web. It is in some cases named “sour salt” because of its unpleasant taste.

In case you’re thinking where to buy citric acid and dry citrus acid powder, search for one that is produced using the non-GMO natural product or natural sugar stick. Use lemon juice blended in with water rather than that you don’t have citric acid.

It’s a smart thought to check names on any packed foods you’re purchasing and furthermore supplements, also you recognize what added substances you’re eating. Verify whether the manufacturer indicates which sort of citric acid is used.

A general guideline is that the more handled and modest a food is, the more probable it is to contain manufactured citric acid. Pharmaceutical companies, for the most part, use more high-quality ingredients and include less added substances.

Final Thoughts

  •  The citric acid in foods like citrus organic products (particularly lemons and limes), in addition to an assortment of packed food sources, particularly those that have an acidic or sour taste. Foods with citric acid incorporate pre-packed products of the soil, canned foods, hummus, salsa, chicken stock, a few yogurts and cheeses, heated foods and pastries, soda pops, brew, and wine.
  • This acid uses incorporate including sour flavor to foods and beverages; going about as an additive, emulsifier, pH balancer, aroma and dissolvable for cleaning; and degreasing.
  • It comes in dried powder structure, fluid-structure, or as a medicine called citrate.
  • How to make citric acid is what you are looking then you can follow when cooking, use new lemon juice blended in with water or a small part of vinegar to get the equivalent acidic impact and flavor.
  • Benefits of this acid incorporate cancer prevention agent, alkalizing and mitigating impacts; improving skin health; battling kidney stones; and improving endothelial capacities.
  • In a few cases, is this acid bad for you or unsafe? It is for the most part when found in packed foods it’s frequently produced using GMO ingredients and might be connected to mold and allergies. It tends to be bothering to the skin or stomach related system and can connect with prescriptions when taken in supplement form.


Can you safely consume citric acid? If that’s your worrying question, then here is the answer!

As per the research of Environmental Working Group (EWG) is not considered as a toxic or harmful to consume by human and does not act as a low human health contributor. FDA also comes up with the conclusion on citric acid that these are safe to use for general or as limited use in foods. 

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