Are There Dangers of Citric Acids?

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Citrus fruits on stand
Citrus fruits on stand (Image: FrancescoRizzato/iStock/Getty Images)

Citric acid occurs naturally in certain foods and is used by the body in normal metabolism. The Food and Drug Administration has also approved the use of extracted citric acid in processed foods for flavoring and preservation. In reasonable amounts as a food additive, citric acid is considered generally safe, and it isn't dangerous when consumed in whole foods, such as oranges, lemons and limes.

Citric Acid as a Food Additive

According to an FDA report, the average person consumes about 500 milligrams of citric acid as a food preservative daily, which is considered safe. This is the same amount found naturally in 2 ounces of orange juice and hardly adds to the amount probably already present in your body. The FDA concludes there is no evidence to suggest citric acid is a safety hazard at current levels consumed.

Citric Acid and Teeth

Citric acid is found naturally in citrus fruits juices such as orange juice and lemon juice and used as an additive in soda, sports drinks and energy drinks. If you consume these foods and beverages, over time the acids, including citric acid, can corrode your tooth enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to decay.

Potential Risks and Side Effects

You can be allergic to citric acid, in which case you may develop hives or swelling and have trouble breathing, and you'd need to seek medical attention immediately. Side effects of citric acid could include nausea or vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. More serious side effects may include muscle twitches, cramps or pain, seizure, numbness of the hands or feet, weakness, difficulty breathing, dizziness, restlessness, irritability and black or bloody stools.

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