Lactic acid is an organic by-product of fermentation often used as a food preservative. The first time most people may have heard of lactic acid was in relation to cramps in humans caused by anaerobic respiration.
However, in this article, we are covering lactic acid as a food preservative. We will also dive into the inquisition, “Is lactic acid vegan?”
People are often confused about this one since the name “lactic” closely sounds like lactose which has to do with milk.
We will deal with this later.
People may also be confused about whether or not lactic acid is vegan because it can be naturally produced by animals during anaerobic respiration.
The history of lactic acid does not make the perceptions any better because they have to do with milk, though there are ways today of manufacturing lactic acid in a vegan way.
Let us dive into the history of lactic acid for a better picture of vegan and non-vegan lactic acid.
IS LACTIC ACID VEGAN? A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DISCOVERY OF LACTIC ACID
As vegans, we may worry that lactic acid was first discovered in sour milk in 1780 by a Swedish chemist known as Karl Wilhelm Scheele.
In 1808 another Swedish chemist known as Jöns Jakob Berzelius discovered it in fluid extracted from the meat.
It was also later discovered in 1859 by yet German scientist Justus von Liebig that lactic acid was always present in the muscular tissue of dead organisms.
From the above information so far, we can say that the discovery of lactic acid had non-vegan origins.
“However, you can rest assured in this day and age that lactic acid is vegan. “
“Related : IS PASTA VEGAN? A COMPLETE GUIDE.“
We will do our best to give differentiate between vegan and non-vegan lactic acid.
It always of course boils down to sources.
FROM WHERE DOES LACTIC ACID COME FROM?
Corn starch and beet sugar are often used by manufacturers in the production of lactic acid.
The process involves fermentation by bacteria such as; Lactobacillus, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Lactococcus, and Bifidobacterium.
A lot of vegan foods, such as pickled vegetables, sourdough bread, and sauerkraut, include lactic acid, extend shelf life by use of lactic acid.
This is because it prevents the growth of bacteria that may compromise the freshness of the food.
Lactic acid also plays a role in the production of probiotic foods such as kombucha.
In the same manner that lactic acid manages to increase the shelf life of food, it can also aid the body’s immunity.
Probiotics have health benefits in mammals. They serve a pivotal role in defending the host against harmful microorganisms thereby boosting the immune system.
SOURCES OF NON-VEGAN LACTIC ACID
Lactic Acid can be created from fermented meat, milk, or salami.
The good news is that animal-derived lactic acid is rarely worth the resources because the one created from plant sources is not only cheaper but better.
Naturally, lactic acid can also be produced in our muscles after a tough burnout if we go through anaerobic respiration, which is what causes cramps.
During strenuous exercise, the rate at which glucose needs to be broken down to produce instant energy may out-weigh the blood oxygen levels, which is what leads to anaerobic respiration and formation of the acid.
Other than the fact given above most lactic acid on the market is vegan.
PRODUCTS AND FOODS THAT CONTAIN LACTIC ACID
1.LACTIC ACID IN BEVERAGES
Kombucha is not the only beverage that contains lactic acid as a lot of wines and beers go through further processes where malic acid is then converted to lactic acids.
2.LACTIC FOR PICKLED VEGETABLES
As we may all be well aware, pickling is one of the best ways to preserve plant-based foods.
Lactic acid has proven to be a very good agent for pickling vegetables. You may use it to pickle cucumbers, beetroot, gingers, leeks, or mangoes.
The active lactobacillus can be very beneficial for your health.
However, a consideration to note is that when the pickles are heated or frozen a lot of microorganisms including the lactobacillus itself, may die.
The anticipated benefits also die along with it. However, owing to their high acidity the pickles may remain delicious, edible, and healthy.
3.LACTIC ACID IN SOY PRODUCTS
A lot of soy products including soy sauce tend to favor lactic acid as a preservative.
Other foods where it is used are sauerkraut, kimchi, and sourdough bread.
4.LACTIC ACID FOR SKINCARE
Lactic acid can work as a chemical peel for skincare.
A chemical peel, as the name suggests, is meant to peel off a thin layer of the top surface of the skin.
Do not worry, the peeling off goes unnoticed through the desired results are observable.
Lactic acid is often an agent of choice In treating uneven skin caused by things such as age spots and hyper-pigmentation.
The benefits are that users tend to have smoother and even skin.
LACTIC ACID vs LACTOSE: IS THERE LACTIC ACID IN MILK?
Due to similarities in name both lactic acid and lactose can be considered as the same and unfortunately Lactic Acid mistakenly be identified as non-vegan.
However be sure, these are two different things having similar names.
Lactic acid is an organic by-product of the fermentation process or simply speaking “an acid” while Lactose is a type of sugar found in milk.
It is true that lactic acid can be formed from milk because of the fermentation of lactose, but one should be clear in mind that originally the milk does not contain any lactic acid and is formed over time due to the action of bacteria.
IS LACTIC ACID DAIRY?
I have established most of the facts about Lactic acid and it would be quite easy for you to answer this question.
The answer is it depends.
Lactic Acid itself is not dairy but according to me if milk is used for its production then it should be considered as dairy.
However, as described earlier, there are many sources from where lactic acid can be derived.
So, it can be non-dairy too.
HOW TO KNOW THE SOURCE OF LACTIC ACID IS VEGAN?
As per VRG most lactic acid sources are plant-based and I also said earlier that it is cheaper to make lactic acid from plant sources.
However, it is difficult to assess each and every manufactures, and the also FDA permits the use of lactic acid in food but does not requires manufacturers to list the source.
The most you can do is ask the manufacturers themselves.
HOW TO MAKE LACTIC ACID TONER FOR SKIN?
Here is a DIY video I found while going through the internet:
ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS OF USING LACTIC ACID ON THE SKIN?
The top layer of the skin is meant to provide protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV Rays).
Using a peeling agent like lactic acid may increase vulnerability to the skin and as such, it must be used in moderation and must be combined by good use of sunscreen.
Mild redness, itching, dryness, and swelling can present in some individuals. However, it is usually mild and may disappear in a matter of a few hours.
This skin remedy is thus contraindicated for people who are already using other products that exfoliate skin such as Retin-A and Refissa. Also steer away from it if you have eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea.
People with naturally dark skin may consult a dermatologist before using the substance because usage may result in increased hyper-pigmentation.
Lactic acid indeed has strong non-vegan origins, but in modern-day it has been reformed into one of the most useful vegan ingredients.
Not only for its value as a preservative but also for its contribution to overall immunity.
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