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Health Facts

Importance of Citric Acid

Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits, especially lemons and limes. It’s what gives them their tart, sour taste.

A manufactured form of citric acid is commonly used as an additive in food, cleaning agents, and nutritional supplements. However, this manufactured form differs from what’s found naturally in citrus fruits.

Citric acid was first derived from lemon juice by a Swedish researcher in 1784. The odorless and colorless compound was produced from lemon juice until the early 1900s when researchers discovered that it could also be made from the black mold, Aspergillus niger, which creates citric acid when it feeds on sugar.

Because of its acidic, sour-tasting nature, citric acid is predominantly used as a flavoring and preserving agent — especially in soft drinks and candies.

It’s also used to stabilize or preserve medicines and as a disinfectant against viruses and bacteria.

Citrus fruits and their juices are the best natural sources of citric acid. In fact, the word citric originates from the Latin word citrus.

Examples of citrus fruits include lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and pomelos.
Other fruits also contain citric acid but in lesser amounts. These include: pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, cherries, tomatoes. Beverages or food products that contain these fruits — such as ketchup in the case of tomatoes — also contain citric acid.

While not naturally occurring, citric acid is also a byproduct of cheese, wine, and sourdough bread production.

The citric acid listed in the ingredients of foods and supplements is manufactured — not what’s naturally found in citrus fruits. This is because producing this additive from citrus fruits is too expensive and the demand far exceeds the supply.


It is use to boost acidity, enhance flavor, and preserve ingredients.

It’s also added to canned fruits and vegetables to protect against botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by the toxin-producing Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

It’s added to medicines to help stabilize and preserve the active ingredients and used to enhance or mask the taste of chewable and syrup-based medications.

Citric acid is a useful disinfectant against a variety of bacteria and viruses.


Citric acid enhances the bio-availability of minerals, allowing your body to better absorb them.

Citric acid — in the form of potassium citrate — prevents new kidney stone formation and breaks apart those already formed. Citric acid protects against kidney stones by making your urine less favorable for the formation of stones.

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