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As a vegan, you have to look at the ingredients on the back of any food product you plan to consume or even any skincare product you want to try before buying them. These days, there are tons of complex and synthetic ingredients with confusing names or uncertain origins.
You’ve likely seen malic acid quite frequently if you regularly use or skincare solutions or eat apple-based products. Today, let’s break down whether malic acid is vegan and explore what malic acid is used for in your body.
What is Malic Acid?
Malic acid is a common ingredient you’ve almost definitely found on food packages many times previously. It’s a natural ingredient, meaning that plants and other sources produce malic acid without any human intervention.
As its root word (malum) suggests, malic acid is often found in high concentrations in green apples. Back in the 1700s, malic acid was first separated from apple juice and was used in different food products and recipes.
Furthermore, our bodies make malic acid whenever we break down food. In fact, malic acid plays a key role in the Krebs cycle. Today, malic acid can be made synthetically in a laboratory environment by synthesizing maleic anhydride.
Is Malic Acid Safe for Vegans?
Simply put, yes. For something to qualify as a vegan, it must fulfill the first and preferably all of the below conditions:
- It must not come from an animal or be made from animal products (i.e. meat or dairy)
- It must not be made using animal products in its manufacturing process. For example, some sugar is non-vegan since it is made with bone char, which is derived from charred cattle bones
- It must not be made using tools or surfaces that came into contact with non-vegan products
Malic acid can theoretically satisfy all three conditions. It’s made in nature and in the human body, but it does not come from animals. You don’t make malic acid by using animals or by taking animal products like dairy or fur. Therefore, malic acid is practically always vegan in every way that really matters.
Where Can You Find Malic Acid?
So, where can you find this versatile ingredient that’s key to the Krebs cycle for humans? In fact, you can find malic acid in all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and other foods, including but not limited to:
- Fruits such as green apples in particular, blueberries, pears, and peaches
- Veggies like carrots, peas, tomatoes, and broccoli
- Fruity desserts including snow cones, sherbet, and fruit fillings for baked goods like pies
- Candies, such as throat lozenges or Warheads
- Soy yogurt, which often includes malic acid in order to mimic the sour flavor and texture of normal yogurt
- Beverages including wine, iced tea, free drinks, and even carbonated soda
As you can see, many of these food items are totally vegan friendly or appropriate for even the strictest vegan diet. Therefore, you can rest assured you’ve eaten malic acid before and will probably consume it again!
Does Malic Acid Have Dairy?
No, not at all. Most malic acid today is either harvested from plants or fruits or is produced synthetically. Therefore, you don’t need to worry about malic acid either having or being related to dairy products like so many other key ingredients these days.
What is Malic Acid Used For?
The million-dollar question is why malic acid is important in the first place.
As mentioned, malic acid plays a key role in the citric acid cycle or Krebs cycle. The Krebs cycle is an important collection of chemical reactions that help to release stored energy kept in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Without the Krebs cycle, your body would not be able to take energy from the food you consume. In other words, life wouldn’t be possible without malic acid and similar compounds.
But that’s not all malic acid can be used for. Indeed, malic acid is used in skin care products for a variety of reasons. Some studies show that malic acid can help to reduce or reverse many of the signs of aging, such as wrinkle lines or weakened collagen in your skin cells and fibers. In some cases, malic acid may also assist with acne reduction.
So you can find vegan-friendly or organic products for skincare that include malic acid as an active ingredient.
When absorbed in conjunction with creatine, athletes may benefit from malic acid since it may boost their muscle performance and energy levels. Additionally, malic acid could assist those suffering from fibromyalgia. With fibromyalgia, your body may not produce enough malic acid for optimal Krebs cycle efficiency.
Lastly, malic acid can be used to prevent dry mouth or kidney stones because of its acidic nature.
As noted from all these uses, malic acid is safe and healthy in most cases. Even if you consume or absorb a product that uses synthetic malic acid, you don’t need to worry about any side effects. Malic acid made in a synthetic or laboratory environment is not truly different from natural malic acid you might get from green apples.
That said, malic acid may irritate your skin if used in a skincare product since it is an alpha hydroxy acid. For the best results, you should only use malic acid skin care products after testing them using a patch test to see if your skin has an allergic reaction.
Bottom Line: Malic Acid and Vegans
All in all, malic acid is totally vegan and in fact would be very difficult to make non-vegan-friendly in any capacity. Malic acid is almost always either sourced directly from natural vegetables or fruits or made in a laboratory environment without requiring cruel animal practices or animal products in any part of the manufacturing cycle.
This is a good thing because everyone needs malic acid so their bodies can complete the Krebs cycle and so they can harvest energy from their foods. The next time you see malic acid on the back of a food ingredient list, don’t worry – you can rest assured that it is vegan-friendly. For more vegan-friendly foods and substitutes, check out our other guides!