Effects of citric acid

Citric Acid-Sodium Citrate

Citric acid and sodium citrate are both alkalinizing agents that make the urine less acidic.

The combination of citric acid and sodium citrate is used to prevent gout or kidney stones, or metabolic acidosis in people with kidney problems.

Citric acid and sodium citrate may also be used for other purposes not listed in this medication guide.

You should not use this medication if you have kidney failure, severe heart damage (such as from a prior heart attack), Addison’s disease (an adrenal gland disorder), high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia), or if you are severely dehydrated or have heat cramps.

Before you take citric acid and sodium citrate, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, especially kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, a history of heart attack, urinary problems, swelling (edema), or chronic diarrhea (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease).

Also tell your doctor about all other medications you use, including over-the-counter medications and household remedies.

Citric acid and sodium citrate should be taken after meals to help prevent stomach or intestinal side effects.

The liquid medicine should be mixed with water or juice. Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking citric acid and sodium citrate.

Your treatment may include a special diet. You should become very familiar with the list of foods you should eat or avoid to help control your condition.

Avoid using antacids without your doctor’s advice, including household baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Antacids that contain aluminum or sodium can interact with citric acid and sodium citrate, causing a serious electrolyte imbalance or aluminum toxicity.

Avoid eating foods that are high in salt, or using extra table salt on your meals.

To be sure citric acid and sodium citrate is helping your condition, your blood and urine may need to be tested often. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and do not miss any scheduled appointments.

Serious side effects of citric acid and sodium citrate include muscle twitching or cramps, swelling or weight gain, weakness, mood changes, rapid and shallow breathing, fast heart rate, restless feeling, black or bloody stools, severe diarrhea, or seizure (convulsions).

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • kidney failure;
  • severe heart damage (such as from a prior heart attack);
  • Addison’s disease (an adrenal gland disorder);
  • high levels of potassium in your blood (hyperkalemia); or
  • if you are severely dehydrated or have heat cramps.

If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely take this medication. Before you take citric acid and sodium citrate, tell your doctor if you have:

  • kidney disease;
  • congestive heart failure, enlarged heart, or history of heart attack;
  • other heart disease or high blood pressure;
  • low levels of calcium in your blood (hypocalcemia);
  • a urinary tract infection;
  • toxemia of pregnancy;
  • urination problems (or if you are unable to urinate);
  • swelling of your hands or feet, or in your lungs (pulmonary edema); or
  • chronic diarrhea (such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease).

It is not known whether this medication is harmful to an unborn baby. Before taking citric acid and sodium citrate, Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether citric acid and sodium citrate passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Uses & Benefits

Commonly used as a food additive as a natural flavoring and a preservative, citric acid is also used in cosmetics, for medical purposes, as an antioxidant and in cleaning products.

  • Food flavoring and preservative

    Citric acid can be added to processed and packaged foods and drinks such as ice cream, sorbets, sodas, wine and canned and jarred foods, as a preservative, an emulsifying agent and as a sour flavoring. Citric acid is added to many canned and jarred foods to help prevent botulism.

  • Cosmetics and personal care products

    As an ingredient in personal care products, citric acid can help to brighten skin, correct dark spots and minimize fine lines. Products containing citric acid can be formulated for use near the eyes, lips, mouth and nasal passages, as well as for safe application to babies’ skin. Citric acid and its salts may also be used in hairsprays, and deodorant and body sprays. Sodium citrate, a salt of citric acid, is used in lipstick, soap, and in detergent. Citric acid and its salts can be used to preserve cosmetics and personal care products, and to help adjust their pH level.

  • Medical uses

    Citric acid is used to help kill harmful bacteria, as well as infections on the surface of the skin that can be common in people with diabetes, the elderly and people who smoke. Citric acid also can be combined with sodium citrate and potassium citrate to lower acid levels in the urine to help prevent gout attacks.

  • Antioxidant

    Antioxidants, which are derived from citric acid, can help keep food edible over a longer period of time. For example, sprinkling lemon juice, which contains citric acid, over apples or bananas can help prevent them from turning brown. Ascorbic acid, better known as Vitamin C, is also found in citric acid and is often used to help protect and preserve soft drinks and meats.

  • Cleaning products

    Citric acid may be added to commercial cleaning products, as it can help remove hard water build-up on dishes and glassware. It also can be used to remove coffee and tea stains, yellowing/browning discolorations and water and urine stains. Some commercial products that contain citric acid are water-based and can cause corrosion on metals. To minimize and prevent rust, dry the metal after cleaning it.

Use of tri-sodium citrate in hemodialysis

Although there are differences in detail, all protocols for tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation during RRT involve continuous infusion of a tri-sodium citrate solution to the prefilter line – either as a separate solution or combined with predilution replacement fluid – the object being to maintain the prefilter blood citrate concentration at a level (~ 4-5 mmol/L) that ensures plasma ionized calcium concentration of blood flowing through the extracorporeal circuit is reduced to

The major advantage of citrate anticoagulation over conventional heparin anticoagulation is that it does not result in systemic anticoagulation. Blood is only anticoagulated for the duration of its passage through the extracorporeal circuit.

This so-called “regional anticoagulation” is achieved because most (50-60 %) of the tri-sodium citrate-calcium chelate diffuses across the membrane and is thereby removed from blood . Any remaining tri-sodium citrate present in blood passing from the filter is diluted in the systemic circulation and converted to citric acid by reaction with carbonic acid (with generation of bicarbonate).

Citric acid is then rapidly metabolized to carbon dioxide and water by the Krebs cycle in the mitochondria of tissue cells (predominantly liver and skeletal muscle cells ). Half-life of citrate in plasma is just 5 minutes , far shorter than that of heparin.

The hypocalcemia, induced by citrate infusion that ensures anticoagulation within the extracorporeal circuit, is corrected postfilter by continuous infusion of a calcium-containing solution (calcium chloride or calcium gluconate).

Theoretically, so long as tri-sodium citrate is infused at a point close to where blood exits from the patient, and replacement calcium infused at a point close to where blood re-enters the patient (or via a separate venous line directly to systemic circulation), the whole of the extracorporeal circuit is well anticoagulated, but there is no systemic hypocalcemia or hypercitratemia, and therefore no systemic anticoagulation.

The patient thus remains at no greater risk of bleeding as a result of exposure to the dialysis treatment.


The first attempt to exploit tri-sodium citrate as an anticoagulant for dialysis was by Morita and colleagues at Wayne State University in Detroit in 1961 . Although this demonstrated proof of principle and the potential for associated metabolic derangement (to be discussed later), no further progress was made over the following 2 decades.

Current protocols for tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation have their origins in the first successful trial conducted in Kansas in the early 1980s . For this trial, four critically ill patients with acute renal failure complicated by active bleeding received IHD anticoagulated with tri-sodium citrate.

A total of 15 dialysis sessions of 4 hours duration were delivered to these four patients. (At this time continuous RRT was yet to be introduced to critical care.) Additionally, the same novel citrate anticoagulation protocol was used on six occasions for the dialysis of four CKD patients receiving regular long-term IHD.

For the anticoagulation protocol, an iso-osmotic solution of tri-sodium citrate (102 mM) was infused at a rate of 5-10 mL/minute into the line directing blood from the patient. With an arbitrarily set blood flow rate of 200 mL/minute, this rate of infusion ensured a final blood citrate concentration of 2.5-5.0 mM within the dialysis circuit.

Previous in vitro experiments for this trial had demonstrated that this would extend whole-blood clotting time (within the circuit) of all patients to > 20 minutes. Blood was dialyzed against a specially prepared calcium-free dialysis fluid flowing at a rate of 500 mL/minute. A calculated 7 mg of calcium (chelated to citrate) was lost every minute from blood to this calcium-free dialysate.

This was replaced by infusion of a 5 % calcium chloride solution into the line returning blood to the patient. The rate of calcium chloride infusion (0.5 mL/minute) ensured delivery of 7 mg of calcium/minute to blood.

In all cases dialysis was completed successfully, with no evidence of systemic anticoagulation (clotting time and APPT, measured predialysis and at hourly intervals during dialysis, remained unchanged or reduced in all patients throughout dialysis).

The clearance of urea and creatinine from blood was equivalent to that obtained with dialysis using conventional heparin anticoagulation, and no clotting was noted in the bloodlines or dialyzer during any of the 4-hour-long procedures. The extra fluid load (300-600 mL/hour) resulting from citrate infusion proved not to be a problem for the “high-efficiency” dialyzer used. None of the potential metabolic adverse effects identified by Morita et al occurred.

Since this first trial, regional citrate anticoagulation protocols (not in principle different from the first) have been validated for all forms of extracorporeal RRT, including routine intermittent hemodialysis for those with CKD and continuous modalities now used in critical care: continuous venous-venous hemodialysis (CVVHD) , continuous venous-venous hemofiltration (CVVHF) and continuous venous-venous hemodiafiltration (CVVHDF) .

The detail and significance of differences between citrate anticoagulation protocols for continuous RRT are discussed in a recent review .

Although the main impetus for the development of citrate anticoagulation was to identify a reliable alternative to heparin for a small subset of high-bleeding-risk patients, recent randomized trials now suggest that tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation is superior to heparin anticoagulation in terms of efficacy and safety, not only for those at high risk of bleeding and those with HIT-II, but for all critically ill patients requiring continuous RRT.

Efficacy of anticoagulation in these studies is based largely on the length of time filters survive before there is evidence of clotting and they have to be replaced. Safety is based predominantly on relative bleeding risk (e.g. transfusion requirements).

In the round these studies suggest that filters anticoagulated with citrate survive longer than those anticoagulated with heparin (in one study 124 hours compared with 38 hours), and heparin anticoagulation is associated with significantly higher risk of bleeding episodes and the necessity for red-cell transfusion than citrate anticoagulation, for all critically ill patients.

The results of the largest and most recent of these suggest that citrate anticoagulation is actually associated with greater chance of surviving critical illness compared with heparin anticoagulation, and that this survival benefit is not entirely explained by the reduced risk of bleeding.

In discussion of this finding the principal investigator has very recently proposed additional reasons for the observed survival benefit associated with use of citrate, but these remain speculative at this time .

With all these positive revelations an increasing number of intensive care units are adopting tri-sodium citrate as the standard method of anticoagulation for their patients requiring continuous RRT . However, best available evidence, from a worldwide survey conducted 5 years ago , suggests that despite the ascendancy of tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation, unfractionated heparin remains, for the time being at least, the more frequently prescribed.

At the time of the survey 64 % of patients receiving anticoagulated continuous RRT were anticoagulated with unfractionated heparin, and 15 % were anticoagulated with tri-sodium citrate.

An obstacle to more widespread adoption of tri-sodium citrate may be the increased level of patient monitoring required to avoid the potential metabolic disturbances associated with its use .


Anticoagulation with tri-sodium citrate can be associated with disturbance of acid-base balance (usually metabolic alkalosis, but also metabolic acidosis), disturbance of blood calcium concentration (usually hypocalcemia but also hypercalcemia) and disturbance of blood sodium concentration (hypernatremia) .

These disturbances can arise for a number of reasons but accumulation of citrate in the peripheral circulation is central in most instances. There are three main reasons why citrate may accumulate.

Firstly, the patient may be unable to metabolize (remove) citrate as efficiently as normal; citrate metabolism is diminished in those with advanced liver disease, e.g. cirrhosis, liver failure; and those with any condition associated with poor tissue perfusion (shock) .

Secondly, as dialysis progresses, membrane patency may be reduced and consequently less citrate-calcium complex is cleared from blood to the filtrate .

Finally, operational errors can lead to accidental overinfusion of tri-sodium citrate. Since citrate is the anticoagulant used to preserve blood for transfusion, multiple transfusions during continuous RRT can contribute significantly to citrate accumulation.

Irrespective of the cause, accumulation of citrate in the peripheral circulation results in citrate chelation of circulating ionized calcium, with consequent reduced plasma ionized calcium concentration (ionized hypocalcemia). If sufficiently severe (ionized calcium

Although plasma ionized calcium is reduced during citrate accumulation (toxicity), total calcium remains normal or maybe increased because the calcium bound to citrate is included in measured total calcium .

An increase in the ratio of total to ionized calcium to > 2.25-2.5:1 (normally around 2.0:1) has been found to be the most reliable signal of citrate accumulation (toxicity) ; the ratio is both more sensitive and specific for citrate toxicity than plasma ionized calcium concentration alone.

Hypo- and hypercalcemia can also occur independently of any effect of citrate if postfilter calcium infusion rate is not well matched to the calcium loss during blood flow through the filter. In this instance there is no effect on calcium ratio; both total and ionized calcium are reduced (or increased) to the same degree.

If tri-sodium citrate is accumulating in a patient who has the capacity to metabolize it, then metabolic alkalosis can ensue . This is because bicarbonate is generated during citrate metabolism; for every mole of tri-sodium citrate metabolized, 3 moles of bicarbonate are generated .

The excessive bicarbonate load that causes blood pH to rise merely reflects increased citrate metabolism. Of all metabolic disturbances associated with tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation, metabolic alkalosis is probably the most common, occurring in 50 % of patients in one study .

Failure to metabolize citrate with resulting accumulation of citric acid is the cause of metabolic acidosis that can occur in patients receiving citrate anticoagulation and is therefore usually confined to those with advanced liver disease and/or inadequate tissue perfusion . Pre-existing lactic acidosis in these patients is a likely contributory factor to development of metabolic acidosis.

The risk of increased plasma sodium (hypernatremia) associated with tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation is simply due to its high sodium content; the 4 % solution of tri-sodium citrate that has been commonly used contains 420 mmol/L of sodium and is thus itself hypernatremic (cf normal plasma sodium 140 mmol/L).

In practice, the use of hyponatremic dialysis/replacement fluids usually compensates for addition of tri-sodium citrate. An alternative strategy is to use lower strength (2 %) tri-sodium citrate . Hypernatremia is thus a potential, but by all accounts, rare complication of tri-sodium citrate anticoagulation.


Given the attendant metabolic risks, anticoagulation with tri-sodium citrate requires careful monitoring of acid-base and plasma electrolyte balance. A minimum recommended monitoring protocol demands measurement of arterial blood gases, plasma ionized calcium, sodium, potassium and chloride every 6 hours. Additionally plasma total calcium should be measured daily for determination of total calcium: ionized calcium ratio (target

More frequent monitoring may be required for patients at high risk of citrate toxicity (e.g. those with liver disease, transfusion recipients) or following changes to the dialysis prescription (e.g. blood/fluid flow rates). Although not necessary for daily practice some centers measure the post-filter plasma ionized calcium level to confirm effective anticoagulation within the circuit (target 0.25-0.35 mmol/L).

Systemically, plasma ionized calcium is often targeted to a value slightly below the normal reference range (1.15-1.30 mmol/L) on the grounds that most critically ill patients have a reduced ionized calcium that is thought to be protective; the suggested target value for plasma ionized calcium is 0.9-1.0 mmol/L .

The management of disturbances detected by this monitoring depends on the nature of the disturbance, the mode of continuous RRT employed, and detail of the citrate anticoagulation protocol, but may include any of the following: halting or reducing the rate of citrate/calcium infusion; adjusting blood flow rate; or adjusting dialysis/replacement flow rate. The principles underlying these management options are discussed in a recent review .

Cook’s Illustrated Explains: Sodium Citrate

When you melt a nice young Monterey Jack cheese, it softens and oozes and stretches smoothly. In that simple act, there’s a lot going on. The fat and moisture that make up the bulk of the cheese are an emulsion, with particles of fat aswim in a watery medium. They are held together by proteins that act as emulsifiers. And the proteins cling to each other, with the help of calcium, forming a mesh throughout the cheese.

As the fat warms up, it turns from solid to liquid, which starts the oozing process. At the same time, heat makes the proteins loosen their gentle hold on each other, easing into a slouchy matrix that stretches along with the now-runny emulsion. The water in the cheese stays juicily mingled with the fat. Perfect.

Alas, not all cheese melts as graciously as Jack. A sharp, long-aged Gruyère, for instance, will tend to separate into a lumpy, chewy blob of protein sitting in a pool of liquid fat. Not perfect.

The reason? Over the months that the Gruyère was aging, much of its water evaporated. That concentrated the cheese’s wonderful flavor—one reason we love aged cheeses—and bumped up its relative fat content. An emulsion is a delicate thing, and with less water present to hold up its side of the arrangement, the fat is much more likely to break out of its emulsified state and puddle up when melted. Moreover, aging also causes the cheese’s proteins to clump in little compact groups. Those tightly clustered tangles of aged proteins are too wrapped up in each other to emulsify well, and because they’re so intertwined, they don’t come apart nearly as easily when heated. Instead, they stay put while the fat melts and drips out around them.

The creators of smooth processed cheeses like Velveeta or American cheese have a solution: a salt solution. Sodium citrate is the best known of a few different ingredients known as melting salts, which facilitate the melting of old or stubborn cheeses. It’s a white powder with a salty-sour taste, but in cheese, its taste isn’t noticeable. The tight-knit proteins that hinder smooth melting are bonded to each other with the help of calcium ions. When you warm up a mixture of cheese with the addition of liquid and a small amount of sodium citrate, the sodium substitutes itself for some of the calcium that’s helping the proteins cling. As the cheese is heated, the proteins separate from each other and again act as emulsifiers, strengthening the emulsion by holding fat and water together.

The result is a stable, smooth melt with no lumps and no leaks—perfect for fondues and cheese sauces. The chemical formula for sodium citrate even spells out “nacho”. Behold:

General information

Monosodium citrate is a monobasic salt of citric acid. It is produced by partial neutralisation of citric acid with a high purity sodium source and subsequent crystallization or spray drying. Monosodium citrate is supplied as anhydrous material.

The properties of this partial neutralised salt are based on its intermediate position between citric acid and the neutral or weakly alkaline trisodium citrate. Therefore monosodium citrate is used if a buffering effect is required or if citric acid is considered to be too aggressive for the formulation. Monosodium citrate is also less hygroscopic than citric acid, thus less prone to caking and preferred in critical formulations such as dry blends, instant preparations or tablets.

Monosodium citrate is a white, odourless, fine or crystalline granular powder with slightly acidic taste. It is easily soluble in water and practically insoluble in ethanol.

It is used whenever a buffering effect compared to the pure acid is required (e.g. acid sensitive ingredients are present).

For preparations which are sensitive to water (e.g. sodium bicarbonate in effervescent tablets) the anhydrous monosodium citrate can replace water containing ingredients. Due to its high decomposition temperature (>200°C) and low water content (<0.4%), it is also the preferred acid source in baking powder or blowing agents in order to prevent premature reaction between acid and alkaline source.

When used as endothermic blowing agent in the plastics industry, it is the preferred food grade, non-toxic alternative to exothermic blowing agents such as azo compounds (e.g. azodicarbonamide), hydrazine derivatives or semicarbazides. Monosodium citrate D is specifically used in this application due to its approx. 10°C lower decomposition temperature compared to monosodium citrate F3500 and is also recommended for other applications where a quicker dissociation is required. Furthermore monosodium citrate D can be used to reduce the acrylamide content in heat treated, starch containing food products by up to 80%.

By using monosodium citrate the safety and quality of snacks, cereals, bakery products and potato products such as French Fries can be optimised without influencing the production process.

What Is Citric Acid, and Is It Safe?

Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits like lemons and limes. Verdina Anna/Getty Images


Citric acid is something that we all consume or come in contact with, but many people are in the dark about what it actually is. Plus, with the word “acid” tacked onto the end, it can seem a little scary. So is it actually worthy of those fears, or is it an unavoidable part of everyday life?

The first thing to know about citric acid is that there are two types. The first is derived from — you guessed it — citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons and limes. It’s also present to a lesser degree in tomatoes and berries. “This type of citric acid is naturally made and good for you. It is high in antioxidants,” says personal trainer and nutritionist James Hickey in an email.

There’s not a whole lot of controversy about fruit-related citric acid, fortunately. “Consuming foods with natural citric acid in them is completely healthy and should be part of your nutrition plan,” Hickey says. “The only negative side effects that can happen is if you were to eat citric fruits in excess it can decrease the enamel on your teeth and cause heartburn.” Fortunately, he says that these problems can be eliminated simply by drinking water when enjoying citric foods.

How Citric Acid Is Made

It’s the non-naturally occurring citric acid that gets some people’s knickers in a twist, which is not too surprising given that it’s actually grown on black mold — the same type you might find in your bathroom. Even more daunting, this version of citric acid accounts for the vast majority out there in the world.

“Today, 99 percent of citric acid is made via microbial fermentation. Only 1 percent is naturally derived from citrus fruit,” says registered dietitian Erica Julson in an email interview.

The manufactured version of citric acid usually looks like a white powder.

To manufacture mass quantities of citric acid, which is used in a dizzying array of products (more on that in a minute), a mold called Aspergillus niger (A. niger) is grown in pans using a carbohydrate substance like sugar or molasses to help the fermentation process along. Other inorganic ingredients, like potassium phosphate and magnesium sulfate are then added, and once the ideal pH balance is achieved the sterile pans are introduced to the A. niger spores, which then germinate and eventually cover the liquid. The resulting product is a mat of mold. Several days later, the citric acid starts being produced until most of the sugar is consumed.

Naturally, the idea of consuming anything that’s been involved with a “mat of mold” has people feeling some kind of way, especially since this particular type of mold under other circumstances is a major contributor to food spoilage and can even cause some types of pneumonia!

So far, popular medical opinion indicates that there’s nothing too grave to be concerned about, however. “Medical experts have responded to these black mold concerns and have said that it is so refined that there isn’t any reason to be concerned,” Hickey says. “I still don’t feel very comfortable about it though, especially for people that may have a mold allergy.”

Indeed, some people might need to be a little more mindful than others. “Citric acid is ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) by the USDA, but there have been reports of citric acid causing canker sores, atopic dermatitis, inflammatory reactions, and stomach upset in some people,” Julson says. “People who are extremely mold or yeast sensitive or allergic/sensitive to corn, beet, or cane sugar/starches may want to avoid citric acid since these items are used in the production of citric acid.”

Benefits of Citric Acid

That said, citric acid has been credited with some pretty impressive feats, such as protecting the brain thanks to its antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also linked to improved nutrient absorption, and has been tied to improved bone health, as well.

Some of the properties that make citric acid body-beneficial are also why they’re used in other products. “Citric acid is used as an additive because of its antibiotic properties. In some canned foods, it is used to protect against botulism,” says certified fitness instructor and Anabolic Bodies CEO Eddie Johnson via email.

Indeed, its preservative powers make it a natural for inclusion in everyday staples like ice cream, canned goods, wine, jams, applesauce, fish and shellfish because it keeps the product’s pH balanced and prolongs its shelf life, according to Julson. Plus citric acid “adds a pleasant tart taste to fruit-flavored products, especially candy and beverages,” she says.

Even if you’re fastidious about non-naturally occurring citric acid consumption, there’s still a pretty good chance that you’ll come into contact with it, as it’s a common component of makeup, chemical peels, bath bombs, detergents, cleaning supplies and even supplements. Citric acid stabilizes active ingredients in medications and improves their taste. Its antibacterial properties make it an effective disinfectant, which is why it’s added to cleaning products.

“I swear by the amazing benefits of citric acid for the skin,” says Alisha Lawson, a product development expert who specializes in beauty products for cosmetics company Shiny Leaf. “It treats several skin problems like mild acne, dark spots, clogged pores, and wrinkles,” she says, adding that certain formulations are known to help brighten complexion and even out skin tone.

Fortunately, this doesn’t seem like an ingredient we need to worry too much about. “Most studies have found citric acid to be safe, and some have even found it to be neuroprotective , ” says dietician Julson. “Consuming large quantities can certainly damage teeth or irritate the intestines, but for most healthy individuals in small doses, it is relatively benign.”

Citric acid is what makes fruit have that sour taste, and it was first derived from lemon juice in 1784 by a Swedish researcher. Some examples of these fruits include grapefruits, lemons, tangerines, oranges, and tomatoes. All the ones that make your mouth pucker when you eat them. Citric acid is predominately used as a flavoring and preserving agent for food and drinks. It can also be used to preserve medicines to protect them from viruses and bacteria.

Did you know these sour-tasting foods have significant benefits for your immune system? Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits this compound provides.

Health benefits of citric acid:


Antioxidants are what help protect your body from free radicals. They are a defense system that your body uses to maintain healthy cells. If you want all of the benefits from this fruit, try zesting the peels into your yogurt or smoothie. That’s right; the peel is the best part! Citrus peels are packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, bone-building calcium and anti-inflammatory, antioxidant bioflavonoids. They also provide potassium, which helps keep blood pressure in check, and limonene, a phytochemical that may have anti-cancer effects. Impress your friends by adding a little zest to their drinks.


Citric acid is also known to have anti-inflammatory characteristics, and one way to ward off disease is to keep the inflammation low in your body. Generally, this benefit is found within vitamin C and the same citrus fruits we mention further in this article. By adding fruits like oranges and grapefruit to your diet, you can increase your daily intake of vitamins to fight pain and inflammation.

May prevent kidney stones

Another pro is preventing kidney stones. We can’t think of a better reason than to potentially keep kidney stones at bay. They are painful, and if you can avoid them by eating fruit, it would be a huge benefit to your health. Citric acid protects against this illness by making your urine less favorable for stones and also breaks apart those already formed.

Improves skin health

Good for your skin? That’s correct, eat this fruit, and you’ll be practically glowing. Citric acid is an excellent supplement for treating skin conditions like acne, pigmentation, clogged pores, wrinkles, and dark spots. Because of its known skin healing properties, you will often find this ingredient in beauty products like scrubs, masks, and peels. Vitamin c is a well-known aid in skin health and anti-aging, which is why you will see it in most ingredient lists for natural beauty supplements and creams. Our premium hair, skin, and nails supplement AgelessHAIR contains 300% of the daily value to create younger and healthier skin.

With pros, there are always a few cons to all things.

Side effects of citric acid:

  • Side effects from consuming too much (joint pain, stomach pain, sore mouth)
  • Can wear off enamel on teeth
  • Manufactured citric is found in most foods you buy, and this can have adverse effects

There aren’t too many cons to citric acid. The side effects of eating to much fruit could result in stomach pains. Also, the citric acid in large amounts can start to erode your tooth enamel over time. Companies usually put manufactured citric acid in our food to add taste to allow for longer shelf life. Citric acid naturally exists in fruits and vegetables. However, it is not the naturally occurring citric acid, but the manufactured citric acid (MCA) that is used extensively as a food and beverage additive. Approximately 99% of the world’s production of MCA is carried out using the fungus Aspergillus niger since 1919.

Natural food sources

You can find large amounts of citric acid in most popular citrus fruits such as:

  • limes
  • lemons
  • oranges
  • grapefruits
  • tangerines

Or fruits with fewer amounts such as:

  • pineapple
  • strawberries
  • tomatoes
  • cherries
  • cranberries

Citric acid is often manufactured and added to a lot of items you will find in the grocery store, but we always recommend natural methods of getting your dosage. Fresh fruit should always be a part of your nutrition, so why not choose some of the fruit above and include it into your diet?

Is it bad for you?

The answer is no; it isn’t. If you are allergic to the manufactured citric acid, then you might get some uncomfortable side effects such as digestive issues and stomach pains.

Tooth enamel erosion over time is also a possible side effect of citric acid. It would make sense to use mouthwash or brush after eating fruit with citric acid. It is generally deemed safe by the FDA. Improve your health by consuming sour fruits and zest away.

Citric Acid

Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid which is found in large quantities in fruits – notably citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons and certain berries. It is a relatively weak acid and has a distinct, sour taste. It is an integral part of the Krebs cycle and therefore plays an essential role in the metabolism of all living things. The acid was first produced from citrus fruits but this technique was inefficient and only produced small quantities. Today, specific strains of the mold Aspergillus niger are used in the industrial production of the citric acid via a fermentation process. The acid can be found in both liquid and powder (anhydrous) form and is readily available online or in food stores.

Role in Food Industry

It is widely used in the food industry as an additive because of its low price and its ease of production. The acid is declared safe to consume by all major government food regulatory bodies. When added to food products or beverages, the acid provides a sharp, sour taste which increases appetite and enhances flavor. Certain companies use it to give their food products, such as sweets and soft drinks, an authentic “fruity” flavor. It is most prevalent in sour candies and gummy bears in the form of a fine white powder, also known as “sour salt”. Some people specifically add it to their food to alter taste. Besides its use as an additive, the citric acid is also commonly used as a natural food preservative. By increasing acidity, the low pH conditions produced prevent bacterial and fungal growth, therefore prolonging the life of the food or drink. It also helps preserve flavor and maintains pH at a suitable level to prevent food degradation, especially canned food. The acid is also heavily used in the preparation and production of Vitamin C as a flavoring. Note that citric acid and vitamin C (ascorbic acid) are two completely different substances.

In Skin Care Products and Detergents

This acid is also commonly found in various natural skin products. It is added to adjust the pH level of creams, lotions and gels to coincide with our natural skin pH level. When topically applied to the skin, it acts as an antioxidant, which helps conceal signs of aging. The acid also exfoliates the skin by removing dead skin cells from the top layer of the skin, thus encouraging new cell growth. Since it is a naturally occurring substance, it rarely causes an allergic reaction and is suitable for most skin types. In detergents, shampoos and soap, it is added so that foam is more easily produced. It also increases the efficiency of these products as it helps dissolve stains more quickly. This acid is favored over other additives because it is environmentally friendly, biodegradable and is relatively harmless.

Possible Side Effects

While it is generally safe, side effects do occur if an excess of the acid was used or consumed. Some of these side effects include stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. People with sensitive skin should avoid using creams containing citric acid as it may cause irritation or a rash to form. The acid is also believed to erode the tooth enamel when consumed frequently, which leads to an increased susceptibility of tooth decay, infections and other various complications. If you experience any adverse effects after coming into contact with citric acid, immediately consult a medical professional.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *