Is citric acid safe to eat? According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), citric acid is “classified as a substance not expected to be potentially toxic or harmful and classified as a low priority for human health”. FDA designates it as “food additive status” “designated” for safe general or specific, limited food use”. The risk of consuming citric acid or applying it to the skin generally appears to be low, and in most cases Few use restrictions under countries including the United States.
What does citric acid do to the body? Here’s more information on some of the pros and cons associated with this acid.
Potential benefits of citric acid
- May have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties – Certain studies suggest that citric acid has antioxidant properties, which means it may help fight oxidative stress (or free radical damage). In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers investigated the link between citric acid and endotoxin-induced oxidative stress in the brain and liver of mice. They found that citric acid reduced brain lipid peroxidation and inflammation, liver damage, and DNA fragmentation after in vivo injection in mice designed to induce oxidative stress in the brain and liver. Studies have shown that citric acid can help reduce lipid peroxidation and downregulate inflammation by reducing cellular degranulation and reducing the release of inflammatory compounds such as myeloperoxidase, elastase, interleukins, and platelet factors.
- Has an alkalizing effect – Citric acid is considered an alkalizing substance – despite its acidic taste – which means it can help offset the effects of eating high amounts of acidic foods such as meat and processed grains. Alkaline foods are rich in alkaline minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, manganese, and iron, which aid in mineral absorption.
- May improve endothelial function – Some studies suggest that citric acid may help improve endothelial function, the membranes that line the heart and blood vessels, and aid in vasodilation and contraction, blood clotting, immune function, and platelet aggregation. This appears to be achieved by reducing inflammatory markers. Citrate, known as citrate, acts as an anticoagulant (often called a blood thinner) due to its calcium-chelating ability.
- May help prevent kidney stones – Kidney stones are more likely to occur when someone’s urine is acidic. According to the UW-Madison Hospital Metabolic Stone Clinic, “Citric acid is protective; the more citric acid in the urine, the better it prevents the formation of new kidney stones.” Citric acid and potassium citrate are alkalizing agents, It can reduce the acidity of urine, so it can be used to prevent gout, kidney stones or metabolic acidosis in patients with kidney disease. Citric acid can help prevent small stones from turning into larger “problem stones” by coating and preventing the material from sticking to the stone.
- Can support skin health – what does citric acid do to your skin? It is an alpha-hydroxy acid that is added to some skin care or personal care products to regulate acidity or promote skin peeling and regeneration. You’ll find it in some anti-aging products, such as serums, masks, and night creams. It is considered an antioxidant that can help protect skin from photoaging, environmental damage and oxidative stress.
Risks and Side Effects
Why might citric acid be bad for the body? Overall, while there are concerns that artificial citric acid may have some negative health effects—especially when consumed in large quantities from packaged foods—large studies have found no clear evidence of a link between this acid and health problems . However, the following side effects may occur.
- May be irritating to skin – For some people, especially those with sensitive skin, the citric acid in skin/beauty products may be too strong to cause irritation. It can also irritate the nasal passages and trigger asthma symptoms when used in cleaning products.
- Often made from GMO ingredients – Artificial citric acid is usually produced using sugars from sugar beets and corn, which are most likely genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
- May exacerbate digestive pain – if your stomach acid is too low, it doesn’t mean you have to avoid acidic foods/drinks. Acidic foods like lemons, limes, and tomatoes alkalize the body when digested, meaning they start out acidic but then become more alkaline. Note that acidic foods do not cause problems like acid reflux or ulcers, but they may trigger heartburn/GERD/acid reflux symptoms in some people. Low stomach acid may indicate that you are not producing enough hydrochloric acid (stomach acid), which you can help reverse by eating a variety of cooked and raw vegetables; increasing your intake of magnesium, potassium, fiber, and antioxidants; avoiding processed foods, refined grains, Added sugar, too much alcohol or caffeine, and food wit