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Is Malic Acid Bad For You?

Also Known As: C4H6O5



Short answer

Malic acid in its natural form is very beneficial to our health. When artificially made in a lab, it can be more harmful than helpful.



Long answer

What is malic acid used for? Malic acid is mainly used as an artificial preservative in fruit-flavored beverages because it adds tartness and has a long-lasting flavor, masking the bad aftertaste of artificial sweeteners. It’s also commonly used in candies, gum, fruit butters, jams, jellies and ice cream.

Something to keep in mind is that malic acid naturally comes from fruits and vegetables, mostly apples, and it is an acid. It’s more acidic than citric acid (from lemons), ascorbic acid or vitamin C. Acids can damage tooth enamel because of their low PH level.

These foods that contain the artificial malic acid, like gum and hard candy, are held in the mouth for a longer period of time than an apple would be, which means they are even more harmful to your teeth. Not only can it destroy tooth enamel, but it puts your teeth at risk of getting cavities.

Candies containing malic acid that are extremely sour usually warn that excessive consumption may cause irritation of the mouth, throat or stomach. If someone starts to experience these problems along with gas, diarrhea, and an upset stomach, they should stop eating foods containing malic acid because the side effects could be prolonged. 

Anyone diagnosed with a gastrointestinal condition should avoid malic acid in all foods and drinks in order to prevent acid reflux and stomach irritation. Malic acid could make already existing symptoms worse.

We need to remember that natural malic acid from fruits and vegetables does have some significant heath benefits. However, when used as an artificial preservative in candies and jams, and processed foods and drinks, it no longer has these same benefits.

Possible short-term side effects

  • irritation of the mouth, throat or stomach
  • gas
  • diarrhea
  • upset stomach
  • acid reflux

Possible long-term side effects

  • tooth decay
  • cavities

Commonly found in

  • fruit-flavored beverages
  • candies
  • sherbet
  • chewing gum
  • fruit preserves
  • bakery items w/ fruit fillings
  • soy yogurt

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Written by Aubrie Robinson | 05-18-2016

Written by Aubrie Robinson
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