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Potassium Citrate Food Additive

What is Potassium Citrate?

Potassium citrate is found naturally in food, it's seen as a supplement and as a food additive. As a food additive, potassium citrate is developed through a chemical reaction between Citric Acid and Potassium Hydroxide. Potassium citrate exists in three types, but only two of them are approved as food additives (Tripotassium & Monopotassium) .  

Definitions from PubChem:

Potassium hydroxide - also known as lye is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula KOH. Also commonly referred to as caustic potash, it is a potent base that is marketed in several forms including pellets, flakes, and powders. It is used in various chemical, industrial and manufacturing applications. Potassium hydroxide is also a precursor to other potassium compounds.

Citric Acid - is a tricarboxylic acid found in citrus fruits. Citric acid is used as an excipient in pharmaceutical preparations due to its antioxidant properties. It maintains stability of active ingredients and is used as a preservative. It is also used as an acidulant to control pH and acts as an anticoagulant by chelating calcium in blood

Why is it used as a food additive?

  • Flavoring Agent - it can mask flavors and balance out products 
  • Buffering Agent - regulates PH by reducing the acidity of foods. Example Almond Milk. 
  • Emulsifier - prevents separation of oils and is the reason cheese has its consistency. Thickening agent. 
  • Preservative - extends shelf life

Final thoughts:

FDA and other organizations have approved and classified potassium citrate as safe for consumption. It shows little to no side effects and has many approved uses. Potassium Citrate has supplemental benefit uses such as treating kidney stones, but should be consumed at recommended levels and should not be consumed if you have a sensitivity. The most interesting part about the research was potassium hydroxide (the compound used to create Potassium Citrate), which some articles say is harmful to the skin and should not be ingested by itself. However, it's appears to be fine when you combine it with citric acid or other compounds. Also, it has been used to treat skin conditions, create soap and other products.

There seem to be a lot of positive benefits and uses for Potassium Citrate as a supplement or consumed naturally. Common side effects include upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. Something to keep in mind if you experience this from a product with the additive. There have also been studies on PubMed that suggest this is safe. We would prefer to consume it naturally through whole foods, but won't be alarmed if we see it as an additive. Next time you pick up a product with this additive, you will know why it is in there and you can determine if you want it.