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Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):313-21. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Feb 18.

Impact of the diet on net endogenous acid production and acid-base balance.

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AgroParisTech, CRNH-IdF, UMR914 Nutrition Physiology and Ingestive Behavior, 16 rue Claude Bernard, F-75005 Paris, France.


Net acid production, which is composed of volatile acids (15,000 mEq/day) and metabolic acids (70-100 mEq/day) is relatively small compared to whole-body H⁺ turnover (150,000 mEq/day). Metabolic acids are ingested from the diet or produced as intermediary or end products of endogenous metabolism. The three commonly reported sources of net acid production are the metabolism of sulphur amino acids, the metabolism or ingestion of organic acids, and the metabolism of phosphate esters or dietary phosphoproteins. Net base production occurs mainly as a result of absorption of organic anions from the diet. To maintain acid-base balance, ingested and endogenously produced acids are neutralized within the body by buffer systems or eliminated from the body through the respiratory (excretion of volatile acid in the form of CO₂) and urinary (excretion of fixed acids and remaining H⁺) pathways. Because of the many reactions involved in the acid-base balance, the direct determination of acid production is complex and is usually estimated through direct or indirect measurements of acid excretion. However, indirect approaches, which assess the acid-forming potential of the ingested diet based on its composition, do not take all the acid-producing reactions into account. Direct measurements therefore seem more reliable. Nevertheless, acid excretion does not truly provide information on the way acidity is dealt with in the plasma and this measurement should be interpreted with caution when assessing acid-base imbalance.

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