Have you ever read a food or supplement label, saw that it contained citric acid, and wondered what the heck citric acid is? Though the name sounds half-natural half-synthetic, citric acid is a wonderful natural ingredient that can boost detoxification and support healthy digestion, energy levels, and kidney function. Here, we’ll take a look at this intriguing ingredient and explain how the right type of citric acid can benefit your health.
What Is Citric Acid?
Citric acid is an organic acid found most abundantly in fruits (especially citrus fruits) like lemons, limes, grapefruit, pineapples, and oranges. Its chemical formula is C6H8O7. This organic acid was first isolated from a lemon using Aspergillus niger (a fungus) in 1784 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Since then, it has been considered safe for consumption and has GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) status from the FDA.
How Citric Acid Affects Your Body and Why You Need It
Citric acid also offers certain benefits when it’s taken as a supplement. Citric acid encourages normal cellular respiration in human metabolism, which means that it plays a key role in igniting the metabolic process to create energy. Without it, the entire energy-producing mechanism in the body is inefficient, and the body is no longer vital enough to heal and detoxify.
In addition to its internal benefits, citric acid is also good for your skin. Citric acid is highly astringent; when it’s applied topically, it can temporarily shrink your pores, reduce oiliness and breakouts, regenerate skin cells, lighten and brighten skin, and even out skin tone. For these reasons, it’s commonly found in facial packs and masks.
Is Citric Acid Safe for Everyone?
Though it has coveted GRAS status from the FDA, and is safe in small amounts, too much citric acid can cause gastrointestinal distress, skin burning, tooth decay, and other ailments. To avoid these issues, do not consume pure citric acid. Additionally, avoid applying pure citric acid to your face and be careful when adding it to your DIY products as too much can burn and damage the skin.
Since much of the commercially used citric acid is sourced from GMO corn, I also recommend exercising caution if you see it listed as an ingredient in a food or supplement. Reputable companies will only use natural citric acid but it’s hard to tell the difference unless you check their website or pick up the phone and ask. If they hedge, get defensive, or have no idea, chances are they’re using the cheap stuff.
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