Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from the fermented juice of apples. It can contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, and acids. As a food, it is commonly used in salad dressings, sauces, preservatives, vinaigrettes, and marinades. ACV has also gained popularity as a dietary supplement or as an ingredient in dietary supplement products. Both as a food and a dietary supplement, it is promoted to curb appetite and help weight loss, support healthy blood sugar and cholesterol, aid digestive health, and boost the immune system. Acetic acid, a chemical compound found in vinegar, might be responsible for some of these marketed health benefits.
Very little scientific evidence supports the safety and effectiveness of apple cider vinegar, especially as a dietary supplement.
Research into ACV as a food (in its liquid form) suggests that ACV, vinegar (in general), and acetic acid might positively impact blood sugar levels and insulin response among diabetics, and improve cholesterol levels and weight loss among obese individuals. However, the evidence is of low quality, and the studies are small. So far, however, no research supports any health benefit from ACV as a food or a dietary supplement.
Household vinegar (including ACV) usually contains about 4–7% acidity and is generally safe to consume in small amounts. However, side effects could include low potassium, skin irritation, chemical burns, and possible tooth erosion. In addition, acetic acid in concentrations greater than 20% could be considered “poisonous,” according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
ACV dietary supplement tablet labels don’t consistently report ingredient amounts, and recommended dosages vary. Two studies have revealed a range of contents and acidity levels (with an acid concentration as high as 10 times the amount in household vinegar). To date, no other studies have evaluated the contents or acidity of ACV dietary supplements. Therefore, no conclusions can be made regarding their safety.
ACV dietary supplements are usually sold as a powder or extract in the form of capsule, tablet, gummy, or powder. Some of these supplements also include other plant-based ingredients—such as Garcinia cambogia, ginger, or cayenne. However, without laboratory testing, there is no way to know the actual ingredients (or their amounts) in a product, so check the product label to see if it has been evaluated by an independent, third-party organization.