Citric Acid is a weak organic acid that occurs naturally in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges. It is a colorless crystalline substance that has a strong, sour taste. Citric acid is widely used as a flavor enhancer, a preservative and an antioxidant in food and beverages. It is also commonly used in cleaning products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
Citric acid is a tricarboxylic acid and is a key intermediate in the citric acid cycle, which is a central metabolic pathway in living organisms. It can be produced commercially by fermenting a sugar solution with a special type of mold. This process is known as the Aspergillus niger fermentation process.
In food and beverages, citric acid is used to add a tart and sour taste to products. It is also used to adjust the pH levels in products, making them more acidic or less alkaline. This helps to preserve the product and enhance its flavor. Citric acid is also commonly used in candy making as an ingredient to add tartness and as a natural preservative to extend shelf life.
Citric acid is considered safe for human consumption and is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration. However, excessive consumption of citric acid can lead to digestive problems such as stomach upset and diarrhea.
Citric acid has been the subject of numerous studies, both in vitro and in vivo, over the years. Some of the key studies on citric acid include:
Antioxidant properties: Several studies have investigated the antioxidant properties of citric acid, demonstrating its potential to scavenge free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress.
Antimicrobial activity: Research has shown that citric acid can inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeast and mold, making it a useful ingredient in preservative systems for food and cosmetic products.
Dental health: Several studies have explored the role of citric acid in dental health, with some evidence suggesting that it may help to prevent cavities by lowering the pH in the mouth.
Kidney stone formation: Citric acid has been studied for its potential to prevent the formation of calcium oxalate kidney stones, one of the most common types of kidney stones.
Cardiovascular health: Some studies have suggested that citric acid may have a positive impact on cardiovascular health by reducing oxidative stress and improving blood flow.
These are just a few examples of the many studies that have been conducted on citric acid. It is important to note that while many of these studies provide promising results, more research is needed to fully understand the effects of citric acid and its potential health benefits.