malic acid in apples

Malic Acid – What It Is, Benefits, and More

Medically reviewed by

Malic acid is a natural organic compound found in many food sources, including certain fruits, vegetables, and wines. People also use it as a supplement to enjoy a variety of health benefits, which we will be discussing in this piece.

malic acid makes up 90% of compounds in apples

What is Malic Acid?

Swedish pharmacist Carl Wilhelm Scheele discovered malic acid in apples back in 1785. It makes up 90% of organic acids found in apples, making it one of the best natural sources for the compound. Hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen composes the chemical’s structure.

It’s is generally sour in taste and often added to foods such as candy to balance the sweetness with a sour or tart flavor. The human body is also capable of naturally creating the acid.

The chemical compound plays a critical role in the body because it is involved in the Krebs cycle – a process through which the body produces energy.

The use of malic acid in the food and cosmetic industry, in particular, is widespread. It’s a common ingredient in skincare products and provides a host of benefits when taken in supplemental form.

Health Benefits of Malic Acid

malic acid improves exercise

Improves exercise performance

When taken as a supplement, it can improve athletic performance and reduce post-workout muscle fatigue. In fact, weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes often taken with creatine, a popular supplement used to improve lean muscle mass and promote better recovery.

Research has shown that when added to creatine, it improves absorption, leading to better energy output, less muscle fatigue after exercise, and overall higher exercise endurance.

A 2015 study published in Acta Physiologica Hungarica observed the effects of a creatine-malate supplement in long-distance runners and sprinters. After 6 weeks of supplementation combined with physical training, the sprinters saw increased peak power, improved body composition, optimal hormone levels, and generally better physical performance. In long-distance runners, they were able to cover a significantly longer distance.

Treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia

The combination of magnesium and malic acid can be good therapy for treating fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain and fatigue in the body, accompanied by insomnia, as well as mental and emotional distress.

Some research done with promising results, indicates that fibromyalgia symptoms improved after taking magnesium malate (a form of malic acid) supplement. Magnesium malate can also treat chronic fatigue syndrome.

Since the compound plays a pivotal role in the body’s energy-producing Krebs cycle, it makes sense as to why people use it to remedy these two conditions.

A 1995 pilot study, published in the Journal of Rheumatology, revealed that magnesium and malic acid combined can help remedy muscular tenderness and pain in those suffering from fibromyalgia.

Help with wrinkles and breakouts

Skin products often use malic acid and with good reason. Thanks to its exfoliation and antioxidant properties, it helps manage hyperpigmentation, large pores, fine lines and wrinkles, acne, calluses, warts, and more.

Some skincare products contain naturally-derived form while others contain its synthetic form. Manufacturers combine it with lactic acids and glycolic to enhance the underlying benefits.

There’s a fair amount of research that indicates that an alpha hydroxy acid cream that contains the compound can help reduce symptoms of acne for some people.

It is used as a skin refiner as it encourages the skin to shed its outer layer. It’s also effective for removing pore-blocking debris which can cause acne.

Improved oral health

Some research shows that malic acid can improve symptoms of dry mouth syndrome by stimulating more saliva production. Healthy saliva production levels can prevent oral bacteria from multiplying.

Better iron absorption

Iron is a critical mineral the body needs for a variety of functions, including hormone production and providing oxygen to muscles. It’s particularly important for those struggling with anemia and pregnant women.

A study conducted in 2013 and published in Nutrients found that vegetables with an abundance of malic acid can enhance iron absorption.

Different Types of Malic Acid

Malic acid is available in two forms: L-isomer and D-enantiomers. Although, only the former exists naturally. The sales and esters within the compound are called malates.

When buying supplements, look for L-malic acid, not DL-malic acid. L-malic acid is the naturally occurring form whereas the latter is manmade.

Natural Sources

natural sources of malic acid

Many fruits contain great amounts of the organic compound. These include:

  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Blackberries
  • Apricots
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Quince
  • Plums
  • Watermelons
  • Bananas
  • Guavas
  • Kiwis
  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • And many more!

Certain vegetables are rich in malic acid such as:

  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Corn

People sometimes add it to wine to form a tart taste and also found in rhubarb in a clear and pure form. Artificial vinegar flavors also use the compound.

Malic Acid Consumption Recommendations, Overdose & Side Effects

The safe therapeutic amount of recommended malic acid is 1200-2800mg a day. Consult a healthcare provider before taking the supplement as it could interact with certain prescription drugs.

Since scientiests have done limited research on the long-term effects of these supplements, researchers strongly advise people not to exceed the daily recommended dose. An overly high intake of the compound can trigger side effects like nausea, diarrhea, headaches, and allergic reactions.

What happens if you’re deficient in Malic Acid?

Malic acid deficiencies are unlikely as the body produces it naturally and we consume many fruits and vegetables that have it. However, a poor diet of mostly processed foods, instead of natural food, may lead to a deficiency.

This deficiency can lead to stress, fatigue, exhaustion, lack of endurance, and more. All in all, you’d have to try really hard to be deficient in the acid – for instance, by going on a chip and soda-only diet!

Top Selling Malic Acid Brands on Amazon

Malic Acid L – Prescribed for Life

Malic Acid (L) - The ONLY All Natural Form - USP Granular (All Organ Support), 8 oz
  • 100% Natural Form Malic Acid
  • Dissolves easily in any food or beverage
  • Adds sour taste and flavor as food additive

One of the few brands on Amazon that sell an all-natural supplement. You can use it to add a sour taste to your food and dissolves in any food or beverage. Strengthens the muscles by promoting the Krebs energy production cycle.

Malic Acid Powder – Nutricost

Nutricost Malic Acid Powder1LB - Gluten Free, Non-GMO (454 Grams)
  • 1LB of Malic Acid Powder (454G/16oz) Per Bottle
  • Easy To Serve Scoop Included
  • Non-GMO and Gluten free

This non-GMO and gluten-free power offers great absorption. It has a tart taste and goes well with your beverage of choice. Combine it with creatine or whey protein shake to boost your exercise performance and recovery.

Malic Acid Mineral Chelating Agent – Nature’s Life

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Nature's Life Malic Acid 800 mg | Chelating Agent May Help Support Energy & Muscle Comfort | No...
  • Superior Formula: Each vegetarian tablet contains 800mg of Malic Acid 250 capsules per bottle
  • Energy Production: Essential in the biochemical chain reaction that produces energy
  • Chelating Agent: Malic acid naturally binds with some minerals to enhance bioavailability and benefits

A generous bottle containing 250 vegetarian capsules with a good 800mg per capsule. It naturally binds with other minerals in the body to enhance absorption. GMO-free and gluten-free. Perfect for anyone looking to boost energy and cut down muscle fatigue. Plus, it has many shining reviews from customers.

Closing Thoughts

Malic acid is not only great for your mood, mind, muscle, and body but also your skin’s health as well. This naturally occurring acid in the body carries a host of benefits. Consume foods that are rich in the compound daily. If you want to improve exercise performance and recover faster, you can take a supplement.

Remember, consult your healthcare provider if you’re taking any prescription medications before taking the supplement.