People who have gout develop uric acid crystals in their joints that cause swelling, redness and pain. Uric acid-lowering medications and a diet low in purine-rich foods are the two primary treatments. The NYU Langone Medical Center reports that supplementing with some natural compounds may also help. Citric acid is not considered a treatment for gout, but foods containing the compound may be beneficial. Ask your doctor or a dietitian for help designing a balanced, low-purine diet to deal with gout symptoms.
Effect of Citric Acid on Gout
According to physician and columnist Paul Donohue, the citric acid found in fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits does not affect your body's level of uric acid and will not worsen gout symptoms. It also does not appear to have a preventative effect against gout. Supplementing with citric acid may, however, help prevent the formation and growth of kidney stones. Individuals with kidney stones are often placed on the same low-purine diet as gout patients.
Effect of Vitamin C on Gout
While the citric acid in citrus fruits doesn't help treat gout, the vitamin C -- also known as ascorbic acid -- found in those same fruits might be an effective treatment. A study published in "Arthritis and Rheumatism" in 2005 found that people supplementing with 500 milligrams of vitamin C each day for two months experienced a significant reduction in their blood levels of uric acid. Additionally, a 2009 "Archives of Internal Medicine" study determined that men who have a higher intake of vitamin C are less likely to develop gout as they age.
All citric acid-rich fruits are recommended on a gout diet because they are low in the purine compounds that the body breaks down into uric acid. Low-purine items are defined as those that have 50 milligrams of purines or less in every 100 grams of the food. Citrus fruits have an extremely small purine concentration. An orange, for example, has only 19 milligrams of purines per 100 grams. Foods with a moderate level of purines include meat, poultry, beans, legumes and certain vegetables. Organ meats; shellfish, like mussels; and game meats are high in purines.
The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center advises gout patients to consume two to four servings of fruits each day, including those rich in citric acid. A typical fruit serving is equivalent to 1 cup of sliced fruit, a medium-sized piece of whole fruit, 1/2 cup of dried fruit or 1 cup of 100 percent fruit juice. Choose fresh fruit or fruit canned in pure fruit juice over processed, sweetened fruit products. Eat more whole fruit than fruit juice, which has more calories and less fiber per serving.
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Gout
- UPMC: Low-Purine Diet
- Sun Sentinel: Preventing Gout Attacks
- UW Hospital Metabolic Stone Clinic: Citric Acid and Kidney Stones
- Arthritis and Rheumatism: The Effects of Vitamin C Supplementation on Serum Concentrations of Uric Acid: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial
- Archives of Internal Medicine: Vitamin C Intake and the Risk of Gout in Men - A Prospective Study
- Dial-A-Dietitian: Diet for Gout
- North East Medical Services: Low Purine Diet - Gout Prevention
- USDA: Fruits -- What Counts as a Cup of Fruit?