What’s the difference between Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid?

Citric acid and Vitamin C both occur naturally in citrus fruits, but there is no vitamin C in citric acid. They are not the same thing. Citric acid is responsible for the tart and sour taste of lemons, and to a lesser extent other citrus fruits and some berries.

Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic Acid is the chemical name for vitamin C. Your body needs vitamin C for tissue growth, repair and wound healing. It’s also an antioxidant, which helps to protect cells from substances that damage DNA. According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for adult women and 90 milligrams for men. Smokers require an additional 35 milligrams each day. Vitamin C is a water-soluble and heat-sensitive vitamin, so it’s not stored in the body, and much of it can be destroyed when foods are heated or canned. Ascorbic acid can be added back to foods to enhance or replace vitamin C that is lost during the cooking process.

Citric Acid

Citric acid also has antioxidant properties, but it’s not a vitamin or an essential nutrient like ascorbic acid. Instead, it acts as an acid buffer and can help to regulate acidity in the body. When consumed from foods or beverages, it can be helpful in treating kidney stones or preventing them from forming. If you need to increase your citric acid intake, the best sources, according to a 2008 study in the “Journal of Endourology,” are lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange juice, as well as lemonade. Citric acid is also sometimes combined with certain minerals like calcium and magnesium, or with medications, because it allows your body to absorb them better.

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