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What Is Glucuronic Acid?

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  • Written By: Solomon Branch
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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Glucuronic acid is a carboxylic acid derived from the glucose, the basic form of sugar in the human body. It is formed when glucose interacts with oxygen and creates a slightly different structure, through a process known as oxidation. This acid’s main function is to combine with toxins and eliminate them from the body.

The formation of glucuronic acid takes place in the liver of all animals, including humans and other primates, and is derived from glucose. Glucose is a simple sugar, or monosaccharide. Glucuronic acid is an oxidized form of glucose, which means glucose has interacted with a molecule of oxygen and changed its structure.

The main function of these acids is to combine with other substances such as drugs, toxins, and hormones, and either carry them to other parts of the body or eliminate them. This combining, known as conjugation, makes the substances more water-soluble and easier to pass out of the body through the urine. The process also makes it easier for these substances, primarily hormones in this case, to be released in whatever location in the body they are needed. Glucuronic acids also assist in the biosynthesis of ascorbic acid in every animal but guinea pigs and primates.

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Consuming alcohol and other substances that cause harm to the liver lowers the body’s ability to produce glucuronic acids. The use of prescription drugs and some over-the-counter medications can also deplete the supply of glucuronic acids. When this happens, it can contribute to toxicity in the body and lead to other long-term health problems.

Since glucuronic acid is part of the natural detoxification process in the body, it has also been looked at as a treatment for certain diseases, most notably prostate cancer. In addition to removing harmful toxins in the body it also appears to regulate testosterone levels, which can help with this type of cancer. Some have suggested that taking supplements containing these acids will help prevent prostate cancer.

Glucuronic acid is often confused with gluconic acid, another carboxylic acid derived from glucose. Gluconic acid is oxidized on a different carbon of glucose and performs different functions in the body. Both of these substances have been reported to be found in the fermented health drink called Kombucha. This has been somewhat controversial, as some have stated that Kombucha does not contain this acid so is not as helpful in detoxifying the body.

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Discuss this Article

croydon
Post 3

I've heard that before that we are one of the only kinds of animal who cannot make our own vitamin C. I've never looked up the details of it though. I guess it makes sense that animals like cats and thing would have to be able to make vitamin C from glucose, since they don't eat all that many vegetables, and in fact doing so would make them sick. But, I wonder why primates can't do it. It seems like a strange thing to lose during evolution.

I guess since they theorize we lived on fruit for a long time, there was no need to make our own vitamin C.

Actually, one of the reasons we even know vitamin C exists is from tests on guinea pigs, who are also unable to make it themselves.

pleonasm
Post 2

@KoiwiGal - Glucose doesn't just come from white sugar, which is the food that most people think is a pretty bad thing to eat. Glucose can come from fruit, or even things like bread. The body will break down most foods into glucose, and then the liver breaks that down further to make glucuronic acid.

Sugar is considered a "bad" food because it is essentially an empty food, containing only energy and no real nutrition. It also digests too fast and can cause problems with blood sugar levels.

The amount of sugar you eat won't affect your glucuronic acid levels. As it says in the article, it's the amount of drugs and alcohol you take which can really affect it.

KoiwiGal
Post 1

It seems bizarre to me that sugar is the source of the acid which combines with waste molecules and toxins in the body and helps to flush them out. It seems like sugar is always talked about as though it is the worst thing you can put into your body. But, like everything else, it seems to have it's place.

I guess it's just a matter of balance and making sure you don't consume too much of any one kind of thing.

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