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What is Fumarate?

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  • Written By: Donn Saylor
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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Fumarate is the salt and esters of fumaric acid and is naturally occurring in the human body, as well as in certain types of lichen, moss, and mushrooms; it is widely utilized as a food additive. Though it consists of the salt and fats of fumaric acid, fumarate is often referred to as fumaric acid or trans-butenedioic acid. It has a light, fruity taste and is sometimes taken as a dietary supplement with L-carnitine to support the health of the heart and skeletal muscles.

During the natural process of chemical reactions known as the citric acid cycle, fumarate is utilized by cells to generate energy from food. When the acid succinate oxidizes during the cycle, fumarate is manufactured and turned into maleic acid. It is also created during the body's urea cycle.

Fumarates are found in several varieties of plants. One of the most predominant is the genus known as Fumaria, which encompasses approximately 50 plants, including fineleaf fumitory, wall fumitory, Martin's fumitory, and earthsmoke. The bolete type of mushroom also contains high levels of fumarate, as does lichen. Iceland moss, which is technically a lichen with the appearance of moss, possesses an unusually elevated amount of the substance.

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There are a number of health conditions that can benefit from the use of fumarate. In dermatology, it has been shown to greatly improve the skin of those suffering from psoriasis, an automimmune disease that manifests on the skin. The substance is naturally created when the skin is exposed to sunlight, and in larger amounts can help heal psoriasis; research suggests psoriasis may be caused by the skin's inability to produce fumarate.

Because of its energizing capabilities, fumarate is sometimes taken to support the healthy function of the heart and skeletal muscles. When used in conjunction with the amino acid L-Carnitine, it aids the body in the production of beneficial lipids. It also supports healthy recovery from exercise.

Fumarates are common food additives. Since 1946, fumarate has been used in the production and preservation of many types of foods, including beverages, baking powder, and puddings. It is sometimes used as a substitute for citric acid as the taste of the two substances is very similar.

The substance has uses outside of food manufacturing and the body. It is often utilized as a component in the creation of polyhydric alcohols, like xylitol and malitol, and polyester resins. Fumarates also help dyes adhere to fabric and can be used in the production of textiles, clothing, and carpeting.

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