Is Citric Acid Bad for You?

Is Citric Acid Bad for You?
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Citric acid is an organic substance that's used in a wide variety of products. You've most likely encountered citric acid in fruits or other food products, but it's also used in cleaning products, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Citric acid isn't bad for you; in fact, it's even thought to be environmentally-friendly.


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Read More: How Is Citric Acid Made & Where Does It Come From?

What Foods Have Citric Acid?

Citric acid can be naturally found in a wide variety of foods, including cranberries, lemons, limes, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes. Natural citric acid has been shown to have antioxidant activity. The highest natural citric acid content can be found in lemons and limes. Lemon and lime juice contain 1.44 and 1.38 grams of citric acid per ounce, respectively.


Citric acid is also used in the production of many commercial products. It can be found in many beverages and is easily recognizable by its fruity, tart taste. It's typically incorporated into citrus-flavored soft drinks as a flavor and color enhancer.

Citric acid can also be used as a preservative. It's used in juices made from concentrates, vegetable oils and even freshly-cut produce. Citric acid is also able to improve the activity of other antioxidant preservatives.


Read More: Uses of Citric Acid

Is Citric Acid Ever Bad?

Because it's found in so many different types of foods, most people consume some amount of citric acid each day. Citric acid is typically good for you, but it can be bad in excess or in its pure, powdered form.


  • Citric acid is safe to eat. However, too much of it has been associated with the erosion of the enamel on teeth. Drinking pure lemon juice or other beverages with high citric acid content is not good for your oral health.
  • Citric acid is a fairly strong acidic substance, which means that it can act as an irritant or be otherwise harmful if not diluted. However, it's typically added to food products at low levels (0.1–0.4 percent) that make it completely harmless.
  • Citric acid can also induce coughing or other respiratory issues when inhaled. The reason for this is not fully understood, but you should be aware of this if you're using citric acid powder at home.

In general, citric acid is not bad for you. Most of the citric acid you consume is excreted when you urinate. This actually gives you an added benefit, because it can help prevent kidney stones.

Do Humans Make Citric Acid?

The citric acid cycle, which is also known as the Krebs cycle or tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, is a biochemical process that takes place inside the body's mitochondria, which are known as the powerhouse of the cell. In this process, fuel molecules — like amino acids, carbohydrates and fatty acids — are oxidized. This process helps produce most of the energy the cells in your body use. The citric acid cycle does produce citrate, but it's not the same as the citric acid you consume in citrus fruits or other food products.