The Top Citric Acid Benefits You Need To Know
It’s no surprise to learn that citric acid is naturally found in citrus fruits. However, humans also produce over one million tonnes per year to use in foods, supplements, and medications. This hints at some pretty amazing citric acid benefits.
Let’s find out a little more about what citric acid is and how it’s made, how it provides its range benefits, and who should be using it…
First, you may know citric acid as ‘citrate’, which is another name for it. It has another memorable name in ‘2-hydroxypropane-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid’. There will be a test later on that!
More importantly, citric acid is found almost everywhere – as you may have guessed from the huge amounts produced each year.
It’s included in natural house-cleaning products and in beauty care. But, in particular, you’ll also find it in a wide variety of foods, where it is used as a flavor enhancer and preservative.
That’s even before we get into its use in medications and supplements.
The type that we use in Athletic Greens is ‘anhydrous’ citric acid. Again, don’t worry too much about the name; it just means that it has had its water content removed in order to perform better at a molecular level.
In its manufactured form, anhydrous citric acid is quite different to the type found in citrus fruits. No oranges, lemons, or kiwi fruits bursting with taste here. Instead, it is an odorless, white powder with a slightly sour taste!
What’s more, you probably weren’t aware that a specific strain of mold called Aspergillus niger is used to produce citric acid for commercial use via a process of fermentation!
A tasteless supplement made from mold may not seem too attractive but don’t be fooled. Many of the potential citric acid benefits are able to aid human health.
From its preservative qualities to its potential use in regulating pH, its antioxidant properties, benefits for osteoporosis sufferers, and possible energy-producing properties, it is a valuable component in supplementing.
Let’s look at that a little closer…
What Are The Top Citric Acid Benefits?
Now you know what citric acid is and how it’s made, let’s talk more about its benefits so you can understand its inclusion in Athletic Greens.
While this substance is mainly used as a preservative, it shows potential benefits to human health.
In fact, the full range of citric acid benefits are just coming to light, with some of its advantages currently lacking in scientific support.
However, evidence does exist for the following benefits:
✔ As an acidity regulator
Don’t be fooled by the name. Citric acid can actually decrease the level of acidity in some bodily fluids, like urine.
This has attracted the interest of those pursuing alkaline diets, looking to combat bone loss (like with osteoporosis) or suffering urinary and kidney problems, like cystitis or stones.
✔ For kidney stones
As mentioned above, citric acid has the ability to increase urinary pH, causing it to become more alkaline. These conditions are less favourable to the formation of kidney stones.
Some stones are formed due to a build-up of calcium oxalate, which citric acid may help excrete, according to studies.
✔ For osteoporosis
Citric acid is a vital component of bone. Some studies suggest that it can protect against bone loss - especially for postmenopausal women.
Others subscribing to alkaline diets favour citric acid for its ‘alkalinising’ effects, claiming that it prevents minerals being ‘leached’ from bones due to an acidic internal environment. However, please note that science does not currently support this hypothesis.
✔ For increasing iron absorption
Similarly to Vitamin C, citric acid may aid the absorption of minerals such as iron - making them more water soluble and easier for the body to take in.
✔ For skin health
Citric acid is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), giving it the ability to remove dead skin cells and exfoliate the skin. It may also act as an antioxidant and support healthy ageing.
✔ For periodontal disease
Citric acid has been shown to kill bacteria in dental plaque, though other studies suggest that it may also erode tooth enamel after prolonged use. Caution is advised here.
Other Possible Citric Acid Benefits
Some other citric acid benefits are claimed by users, but not yet backed up by scientific studies. These include:
→ Improved carbohydrate metabolism and weight loss
Thanks to its involvement in energy production cycles inside the cell, it’s possible that citric acid supports the efficient use of food for energy.
→ Increased energy
For the same reasons as mentioned above, some people take citric acid for a boost in energy. What is known is that citric acid is involved in the Krebs Cycle or TCA (TriCarboxylic Acid) cycle - a microscopic process that occurs in animals, plants, and bacteria to help produce energy.
→ As a general antioxidant
While citric acid is well known for its antioxidant and preservative effects on food, more research is needed to confirm its value as an antioxidant that benefits human health.
→ For colds and flu
Citric acid is often prescribed alongside vitamin C to combat the common cold and sinus issues. However, more evidence is needed to confirm citric acid’s antimicrobial and immune-boosting potential.
→ As a gargle for sore throat
Citric acid may exert topical antibacterial action, making it useful as a gargle solution for sore throat.
How To Enjoy These Citric Acid Benefits Safely
Citric acid is needed in high doses to exert a therapeutic, alkalinizing effect, especially for urinary/kidney health. Up to 0.1 gram per kilogram of bodyweight is required for these purposes.
However, there are some precautions involved with supplementing with citric acid that users should be aware of.
First, it may cause erosion of tooth enamel with direct exposure at high doses. It may also irritate the throat and lungs, if inhaled. Finally, citric acid may cause digestive upset if taken in high doses.
Who Should Supplement With Citric Acid?
While most people encounter citric acid through its widespread use in preserved foods and other supplements, its use as a standalone supplement is less common.
However, it shows promise in treating kidney stones, periodontal disease, osteoporosis, low iron and topically, for skin health.
Many of the benefits of citric acid are under-supported by scientific study at present but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
However, it’s probably best to consider citric acid as a natural preservative rather than a supplement. It may work well with the alkalising ingredients in Athletic Greens, such as the “greens” and calcium. These all help to make it easier for the body to maintain its optimal pH.
Its main use in Athletic Greens, though, can be seen to help the product have a longer shelf life without having to add something artificial that may detract from the overall benefits of the product.