Malic Acid Benefits For Beauty And Health

Malic acid is a substance that is found naturally in all fruits and many vegetables and is generated during fruit metabolism. It is the malic acid that gives a pleasant sourness to all fruits. Today, however, it is being produced on an industrial scale by the enzymatic conversion of fumaric acid using immobilized cells of Brevibacterium flavum, a kind of bacteria.1

What Is Its Use?

In apples, it is the presence of malic acid that gives it the taste, juice, and flavor.2
In wines, malolactic fermentation was found to efficiently decrease the acidic taste and also improve its microbial stability or shelf life.3 Thanks to its ability to provide microbial stability, malic acid is widely used as a food additive. It is also being used extensively in the pharmaceutical industry.4


Benefits Of Malic Acid

Malic acid is used in a lot of skin care products to reduce signs of aging. Malic acid supplementation is found to be beneficial in improving physical endurance. There are also studies that highlight the benefits of malic acid in managing symptoms of fibromyalgia. Let’s take a detailed look:

1. For Skin Renewal

At the root of most skin disorders seen today is hyperkeratinization. Hyperkeratinization is the thickening of the skin due to intercellular bonding. This bonding is augmented by dehydration.5 When alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like malic acid are applied topically, it reduces the thickening of the skin caused by hyperkeratinization by weakening the intercellular bonding.6 7 This means that malic acid can be effectively used in treating dry skin and skin disorders like ichthyosis, follicular hyperkeratosis, etc.8 9


In higher concentrations, AHAs like malic acid, can help treat age spots, seborrheic keratoses, etc. Wrinkles can also be modified with topical AHAs.10 In cosmetic products, malic acid functions like a pH adjuster. It is believed that about 50 cosmetic formulations across a range of product types use malic acid in low concentrations. Some studies also claim that there is insufficient data to determine the safety of malic acid when used in cosmetics for purposes other than as pH adjusters.11

2. To Enhance Exercise Capacity

In a study conducted on rats to determine the effect of malic acid on the metabolism in muscle and liver, it was found that malate or malic acid has many physiological functions like enhancing the capacity of exercise, anti-fatigue, heart protection, etc. In humans, it was found that the cyclists who were given malate plus oligosaccharide solution performed the cycling to exhaustion for a longer time.12


3. For Weight Gain

Malic acid may come in handy for people who are struggling to gain weight. Malic acid is believed to provide about 10 kJ (2.39 calories) of energy per gram during digestion. To determine the effect of malic acid on the performance of Japanese quails, 320 quails were divided into four treatment groups each with four replicates containing 20 birds. One group was fed a mash form basal diet with no additives (0MA), the second group was fed a diet with malic acid at 0.4 (0.4MA), the third group was kept on a diet of malic acid at 0.8 (0.8MA) or 1.2 (1.2MA) g/kg from 7 to 42 day of age. It was found that the birds who were given a higher dose of malic acid in the diet–0.8MA and 1.2MA–showed a higher weight gain. The study also determined that the carcass weight of the 0.8MA birds was higher than the other groups. 13

4. To Manage Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Fibromyalgia causes chronic, widespread musculoskeletal pain and stiffness in association with fatigue, poor sleep, and the presence of discrete tender points. It affects approximately 3.7 million people in the United States.14


Magnesium supplements combined with malic acid has been shown to have a beneficial influence in the management of fibromyalgia symptoms. In a study where primary fibromyalgia patients were treated for an average of eight weeks with magnesium and malate, a significant decrease in pain was seen. The subjects exhibited a significant decrease in mean tender point index from 19.6 to 6.5. When after two days a few of the patients were switched to placebo, they reported a worsening of muscle pain. The study also found that after two weeks on magnesium and malate supplements, their mean tender point index showed a rise from 6.8 to 21.5. 15

Another study, on a proprietary tablet containing malic acid and magnesium, revealed that this drug was beneficial in the treatment of patients with fibromyalgia. Three primary measures of pain and tenderness were assessed. The study found significant reductions in the severity of all the three primary pain and tenderness measures with no limiting risks, proving that this combination of malic acid and magnesium is safe and beneficial in the treatment of fibromyalgia. 16


Not much research seems to have been done on the effects of malic acid. As a result, little is known about the safety of regular or long-term use of the substance as a supplement. It is, however, advisable to have it in moderation.