Oranges and lemons contain large
concentrations of citric acid. Citric acid is a
compound that is created when a cell breaks
down "food" (like glucose, which is a sugar).
Specifically citric acid is generated during one
of the early steps of the tricarboxylic acid
(TCA) cycle (also known as the citric acid cycle
or the Krebs cycle). This is one of many
chemical reactions that occur in the cell when
it is breaking down larger things into smaller
things, which can be used to create energy or
other things needed in the cell. All types of
cells are able to do this (including your own!)
What makes citrus fruit (like oranges and
lemons) special is that they do not use up as
much citric acid as other cells. Other cells
will tend to convert citric acid into another
compound. This results in the citrus fruit cell
accumulating a lot citric acid.
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