You May Not Know It, but You May Be Taking Malic Already


Story at-a-glance -

  • Malic acid was first discovered in 1785 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish pharmacist, from unripe apples. The word “malic” is derived from the Latin of apple, “malum,” which is why the acid is closely associated with its namesake fruit
  • According to Bartek, a company specializing in the production of malic acid, apple is the biggest natural source, comprising 94 to 98 percent of total acids found in the fruit

Malic acid, which is mainly found in apples, as well as various fruits and vegetables, is a type of acid that may benefit your health.1 If you regularly eat healthy, whole foods, your body is probably obtaining it already. But what exactly is malic acid and what can it do for you?

What Is Malic Acid?

Malic acid is a naturally occurring substance responsible for giving fruits and vegetables a sour or tart taste.2 While found in many sources, malic acid was first discovered in 1785 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish pharmacist, from unripe apples. The word "malic" is derived from the Latin of apple, "malum," which is why the acid is closely associated with its namesake fruit.3

Today, malic acid is used as a food additive in noncarbonated drinks, wines, confectionaries, chewing gum, desserts and baked goods, among other things.4 Another major application of malic acid is in supplements, which are created to help manage certain health issues. The question now is: Do you need malic acid supplements?

The Sources of Malic Acid Are All Around You

Malic acid can be found all around you in the food you eat. If you're eating a balanced, whole food diet that's abundant in organic produce, you're probably gaining malic acid from your meals already. It's found in foods such as:5


















According to Bartek, a company specializing in the production of malic acid, apple is the biggest natural source, comprising 94 to 98 percent of total acids found in the fruit.7 Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid as well, and taking it regularly will allow you gain the potential benefits of the acid.8

While malic acid may be abundant in nature, you also have a choice of taking it as a supplement. How can this approach benefit your health?

Studies Regarding the Potential Benefits of Malic Acid Supplements

As of the moment, studies regarding the potential benefits of malic acid supplements are very few. Focusing on what's already been published, scientists have found that malic acid supplements may help with the following:9

Kidney Stones: In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Endourology, the effects of malic acid were examined in the context of urinary function. Researchers determined that since malic acid is a polycarboxylic anion with similar functions to citrate, it may produce results similar to alkali citrate therapy.

Examiners administered 1,200 milligrams of malic acid daily for one week to eight healthy test subjects, with their urine samples collected afterward. The results were analyzed for routine lithogenic components, including pH and citrate.

They observed that malic acid supplementation was able to increase pH and citraturia (presence of citric acid in the urine), while lowering the concentration of calcium and concomitant SS calcium oxalate, but these effects were not statistically significant. In conclusion, malic acid supplementation may possibly help reduce kidney stones, but for conservative treatments only.10

Athletic Performance: In a study published in Acta Physiologica Hungarica, evidence suggests that malic acid supplementation may improve the physical performance of athletes. Researchers provided test subjects with malic acid supplements and noted increases in relative and absolute peak power and total work among sprinters compared to other groups. In addition, the distance sprinters ran increased.11

Fibromyalgia: In a pilot study published in the Journal of Rheumatology back in 1995, scientists set out to discover the effects of malic acid (combined with magnesium) on patients with primary fibromyalgia syndrome.

Using a tablet containing 200 milligrams of malic acid and 50 milligrams of magnesium, researchers administered the concoction to 24 sequential patients affected with primary fibromyalgia syndrome. When the dosage was escalated for a total of six months, the test subjects noted reductions in the severity of the three primary pain measures.12

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Malic Acid Is Also Used in Skincare Products

Aside from supplements, malic acid can be found in a wide variety of hair and skincare products, such as shampoos, body lotions, nail treatments and antiaging products. One reason for this is because alpha hydroxyl acid (which malic acid falls under) stimulates exfoliation and interferes with how your skin cells bond, thus helping dull skin make way for newer skin cells.13

Dosage Recommendations for Malic Acid Supplements

Currently, there's very little data regarding dosage recommendations for malic acid, both for children and adults. Should you wish to take malic acid supplements, it is best to consult with your doctor first to get insight on the right amount for you, or whether it is safe for you to take in the first place.14

On the other hand, there is some research regarding dosage. In a 1992 experiment from the Journal of Nutritional Medicine, patients affected with fibromyalgia were given 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams of malic acid. Researchers indicated that subjective observation of the participants reported improvement 48 hours after supplementation.15

Known Side Effects of Malic Acid Supplements

Similar to the dosing recommendations, there's currently little research about side effects of long-term use of malic acid supplements. Therefore, it is important that you discuss your intention of using these products with your doctor so that they may monitor your health. While there's no solid evidence regarding malic acid's side effects, there are concerns of headaches, diarrhea, nausea and allergic reactions among users.16

In light of the information provided, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking malic acid supplements for safety reasons. Instead, the acid should be obtained through healthy food sources.

Consult a Doctor Before Taking Malic Acid Supplements

Based on published studies, there is a possibility that malic acid supplements may benefit your health, especially if you're an athlete or if you have fibromyalgia. However, be aware that there is currently very little information regarding the safety of using these products for long periods of time. It may be better to obtain malic acid from healthy food sources instead, as they also contain other nutrients that can support your health.

It is better to err on the side of caution by consulting with your doctor before purchasing a malic acid supplement. And if you do buy one, make sure that it is made from high-quality ingredients to help protect your health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Malic Acid

Q: Is malic acid good or bad for you?

A: Preliminary studies suggest that using malic acid with a combination of magnesium may help reduce the symptoms in fibromyalgia patients.17 However, remember that direct exposure to malic acid and its salts can greatly irritate your skin and mucosa, especially the eyes. Exposure via inhalation may also cause health problems.18

Q: What is malic acid used for?

A: Malic acid is added into various products such as jellies, jams, frozen milk products and wines, as well as skincare products. It may also be taken as a supplement, which is believed to help with the production of cellular energy.19

Q: Is malic acid safe during pregnancy?

A: Malic acid is likely safe when taken from natural food sources. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, however, should avoid its supplement derivatives because there is little data regarding this topic.20

Q: Where does malic acid come from?

A: Fruits are generally considered to be a great source of malic acid. Apple, watermelon, cherry, grape, banana, mango, peaches and pears are but a few selections that offer varying amounts of malic acid.21

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