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What is PABA?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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Para-aminobenzoic acid, or PABA, is a water soluble organic compound. This compound was once a main sunblock ingredient, though it is no longer added to sunblock. PABA can also be used to treat a number of different ailments ranging from female infertility to skin lesions. Small traces of PABA can also be found in some multivitamin formulas.

Sunblock manufacturers once added para-aminobenzoic acid to sunblock in order to block ultraviolet rays, though the theory behind this was largely disproved. In fact, numerous studies have shown that PABA may increase a person's chances of absorbing ultraviolet rays, which is why this ingredient is no longer included in most sunblock formulas. Throughout the world, various sunblock manufacturers may still add this ingredient to sunblock formulas. Thus, it is important to read a product's ingredient list prior to using any type of sunblock.

While para-aminobenzoic acid is frequently found in manufactured products, this compound can also be found naturally. Various grains, including wheat germ and other unrefined grains, include PABA. Animal products such as liver and some kidney types have a small percentage of this compound.

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Some nutritionists believe that para-aminobenzoic acid is essential to human health, though most do not agree. Since this compound is slightly acidic, some people may experience an adverse stomach reaction to products containing PABA. Para-aminobenzoic acid is not considered overly important to one's health, so it is not recommended that people ingest supplements containing the ingredient unless otherwise directed by a medical doctor. Still, various supplements containing this ingredient can be found across the world.

When considering using a product that contains PABA, it is important to speak with a medical doctor. Para-aminobenzoic acid can conflict with certain drugs, including common antibiotics. In some instances, prescription medications may eliminate the body's ability to absorb this compound. Thus, it is wise to tell a medical doctor about all medications prior to taking any para-aminobenzoic supplement.

In all instances, para-aminobenzoic acid should be taken in low doses. Excessive use of this compound may result in rashes, fever, low blood sugar, and liver damage. Children should be kept away from this compound, since some children may experience extremely adverse reactions. Purchasing any product that contains PABA from a non-reputable retailer is not a wise idea. Instead, look for products that are sold by reputable manufacturers.

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