Citric acid is an organic acid and an organic element of many fruits and fruit juices. It is not a mineral or vitamin and is not necessary in the diet. On the other hand, citric acid, not to be confused with ascorbic acid (vitamin C), is helpful for people with kidney stones. It inhibits stone formation and breaks up small stones that are starting to form. Citric acid is protective; the more citric acid in your pee, the more protected you are against forming new kidney stones. Citrate, used in calcium citrate supplements and in many medicines (such as potassium citrate), is closely related to citric acid and also has stoneprevention benefits. These medicines may be prescribed to alkalinize your pee.
How does citric acid protect against kidney stones?
Citric acid makes urine less ideal for the formation of stones. In its organic form, such as from citrus fruits, citric acid doesn't alkalinize the pee as citrate (from medication) does. Rather, it stops small stones from becoming "problem stones" by coating them and preventing other material from connecting and building onto the stones.
What are the best food sources of citric acid?
Citric acid is most prevalent in citrus fruits and juices. Of these fruits, lemons and limes have the most citric acid. While oranges, grapefruits, and berries also contain significant amounts, lemons and limes will most significantly contribute to the citric acid content of your urine.
A half-cup (4 ounces) of pure lemon juice per day or 32 ounces of mixed lemonade supply about the same amount of citric acid as does pharmacological therapy. In addition to increasing your citric acid consumption, drinking adequate fluids (at least ten 8-ounce glasses per day) - more in summer or when physical activity promotes heavy perspiration - may be the most powerful way to lower your risk of developing stones.
10 Easy Tips to Increase Your Citric Acid Intake
1. Consume 5 or more fruits and vegetables everyday.
As lemons and limes provide the most citric acid per gram, focus on them. Keep in mind, though, that increasing your intake of all fruits and vegetables - especially the citrus variety - will increase your citric acid intake and provide other health benefits also. For example, the potassium, magnesium, and phytate contained in fruits and vegetables protect you against forming new stones. Other phytochemicals in plant foods may avoid cancer and other chronic diseases.
* Here's a tip to get more juice from lemons - roll them on a hard surface while pressing down with your palm.
2. Squeeze fresh lemon (or reconstituted lemon juice) into ice cube trays before freezing.
Directions: Load trays almost full with water. Then, squeeze half a lemon or more over the tray, and freeze. Use these cubes for spicing up water and other beverages. In case you like the taste of lime, use lime instead of, or in addition to, lemons. Remember to drink at least 10 glasses of liquid each day to keep your pee dilute enough to prevent stones.
3. Squeeze Fresh lime or lemon juice directly into your fruit juice, tea, or water.
4. Use lemon juice. Water down 2 ozs. lemon juice with 6 ozs. water and drink two times a day - once in the morning and once in the evening - to achieve the goal of 4 ozs. lemon juice per day.
5. Drink lemonade every day. Based on your urinary citrate concentration, 16-32 ozs. daily may be recommended, distributed throughout the day. To make homemade lemonade, squeeze a cup (4 ounces) of fresh lemon juice into a pitcher of cold water. Add sugar or sugar substitute, if desired.
6. Make a lemon or lime spritzer.
7. Use fresh lemon on lettuce or spinach salads.
8. Use freshly squeezed lemon or lime on fruit salads. Besides adding a zesty taste, the acid in the juice will avoid cut fruits, such as apples, from browning with exposure to air.
9. Use lemon or lime juice in marinades. When looking for marinades and other recipes, try the ones that call for lemon or lime juice, and include them into your menus at home.
10. Read the label. Pick products that are high in citric acid.