Citric acid is a weak organic acid. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic, or sour, taste to foods and soft drinks. In biochemistry, the conjugate base of citric acid, citrate, is important as an intermediate in the citric acid cycle, and therefore occurs in the metabolism of virtually all living things.
Citric acid is a commodity chemical, and more than a million tonnes are produced every year by fermentation. It is used mainly as an acidifier, as a flavoring, and as a chelating agent.
- Citrate is an inhibitor of phosphofructokinase, which helps regulate the rate of glycolysis (and subsequently the citric acid cycle) in the cell.
- citric acid is also used to remove fatty acids in blood vessels and to lower blood pressure.
- The dominant use of citric acid is as a flavoring and preservative in food and beverages, especially soft drinks. Within the European Union it is denoted by E numberE330. Citrate salts of various metals are used to deliver those minerals in a biologically available form in many dietary supplements. The buffering properties of citrates are used to control pH in household cleaners and pharmaceuticals. In the United States the purity requirements for citric acid as a food additive are defined by the Food Chemical Codex, which is published by the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP).
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