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Acerola – an enormous source of organic vitamin C

Until recently, citrus fruits had been labelled as leaders in vitamin C concentration. Yet it is the fruit of acerola which contain the highest levels of this compound. Acerola triumphs in comparative studies on vitamin C content in both species.

A little known plant called acerola

Acerola, commonly called the Barbados cherry or more professionally Malpighia glabra (Malpighia emarginata) is a plant which is now increasingly appreciated. It occurs as shrubs or low trees in both Americas. The most important parts of the plant for dietary and medical use are the fruits. The appearance of acerola fruits is very enticing: they are round, fiery red, small and juicy.

What does acerola taste like?

More than once the alluring form of acerola fruits has been deemed to clash with an intensely sour taste. Nevertheless, the ripe pulp and fragile skin make the fruit a welcome treat (also to children).

What do acerola fruits actually contain?

Acerola fruit is primarily a wealth of vitamin C (100 g of acerola fruits contain 1400 to 2500 mg of vitamin C). An especially important fact is that vitam C from acerola is organic. It is not the only advantage of the Barbados cherry. It also contains provitamin A, B group vitamins (B1, B2 i B3) and a number of essential elements (such as calcium, iron or phosphorus).

Vitamin C – what is this popular vitamin anyway?

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is right to be associated with acidic pH, but seldom imagined to be a solid (with a crystalline structure, white colour and high solubility in water). A noteworthy fact is that vitam C is a derivative of glucose, which classifies the substance among organic compounds (i.e. the compounds which feature carbon in their structures).

The effect of vitamin C

Vitamin C facilitates the course of many processes in the body. Among others, it takes part in enzyme metabolism, the production of hormones and metabolism of fats and bile acids.
Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant, a substance which neutralises the harmful effects of free radicals. It is an extremely desireable feature you should learn more about. Let us start by explaining the effect of free radicals. A consequence of the action of free radicals on the body is the occurrence of gradual cellular damage, which at a certain point becomes incapable of proper functioning. In which case, you can protect yourself from exposure to free radicals?. Unfortunately not. What you can do is to try limiting their effect on the body by supplementation of vitamin C.
Ascorbic acid, which is an antioxidant, is not only a defender of the system, but also a preservative used in the food processing industry.
Another characteristic of vitamin C is the relaxation of blood vessels and the capacity of improving the functioning of vascular endothelium by sealing this tissue. A tight endothelium better prevents pathogenic microorganisms from entering the blood. Hence vitamin reinforces the defence barriers of the body against spreading of infections. However, the suggestion that ascorbic acid bolsters the body's immune system is false; it indeed affects the immune processes, but only by keeping the endothelium sealed.
By participating in many enzymatic processes, ascorbic acid is also responsible for collagen synthesis. It thereby helps keep the skin supple and accelerates the healing of wounds and fractures.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron and is beneficial to the nervous system, as well as preservation of correct psychological functioning. Vitamin C and the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
The RDA for vitamin C in adults is around 80 mg. Considering the high content of ascorbic acid in acerola fruit, it can be easily calculated that eating between 3.2 and 5.7 g of the fruit is enough to completely cover the daily demand of the body for vitamin C.

Effects of vitamin C defficiency

The most known and increasingly rare symptom of vitamin C defficiency is scurvy. Other consequences of ascorbic acid deficiency include: accelerated processes of ageing; increased cholesterol concentration; difficulties in healing of wounds; increased sensitivity of bones to fracture; extravasation (subdermal infiltrations of blood from damaged vessels); disorders of the gums; general weakness; long infections; loss of appetite; swelling; pains in the muscles and joints.

Is excess vitamin C hazardous to health?

Ascorbic acid is recognised as a low toxicity substance. Consequently it is not taken in without limitation. Its excess is discharged with urine. However, potential hazards of vitamin C overdose cannot be dismissed, such as worse tissue regeneration or aggravation of inflammatory conditions in the body. It has been shown that doses beyond nearly ten times the RDA contribute to those hazards.

Why is organic vitamin C better than the synthetic form?

Currently products of organic origin are promoted in virtually all fields (cosmetology, pharmacy, dietetics, etc.). And not without justification. Considering dietary supplements (e.g. Rosavit C, Bronchopect), use of organic extracts can be followed by numerous benefits. The leading one is the sense of safety, since the extract is made of a plant product consumed in food by many people. The organic form of vitamin C is better because of the concomitant content of bioflavonoids, which preserve the vitamin from decomposition. It is possible to say that organic vitamin C is more "potent" (in terms of effectiveness) than the synthetic varieties. Higher therapeutic activity supports the use of organic vitamin C.

Who should supplement vitamin C?

Everyone should provide their bodies with vitamin C, since humans cannot synthesise it. People also unwittingly contribute to reducing the absorption of vitamin C by improperly cooking the food that contains the compound (by boiling, frying and exposure to light). Note that persons especially exposed to severe vitamin C deficiency include heavy smokers, alcoholics and the elderly. Vitamin C should also be complemented in the diet of all those who actively play sports or do heavy physical work.
Vitamin C can be supplemented in acerola fruit, their preserves (if properly prepared) or most easily by taking preparations available at pharmacies (e.g. Rosavit C and Bronchopect). The way in which we deliver ascorbic acid is of no great relevance. What is important is to ensure a daily and correct dose of the vitamin in the body.

The potential uses of acerola

As already mentioned, acerola is used in food processing and medicine. The former uses the fruit to produce desserts, beverages and culinary preserves. Being an intermediate with high vitamin content, it is also used as an additive to meals for babies and infants (a kind of vitamin nutrient). Considering its medical (pharmaceutical) aspect, the Barbados cherry is used in the formulation of many preparations with organic vitamin C.

Is the content of acerola in dietary supplements important?

Of course it is. The presence of acerola extract in the contents is reflected by the dose of vitamin C. It is good to read the label or the leaflet to determine the overall dose of ascorbic acid and whether it is enough or not.

How can the vitamin C content of acerola extract preparations be identified?

Oczywiście, że tak. Zawartość wyciągu z aceroli ma swoje odzwierciedlenie w dawce witaminy C. Warto doczytać na opakowaniu, lub w ulotce jaka jest całkowita dawka kwasu askorbinowego i zastanowić się, czy jest ona odpowiednia.

Jak może być podana informacja o zawartości witaminy C w preparacie z wyciągiem z aceroli?

The preparations with acerola may also include other plant extracts the presence of which sometimes obscures legibility of information. Hence try to properly assess the composition. Example: one preparation with a very interesting composition, called Bronchopect (with marshmallow root extract, thyme herb extract and acerola fruit extract) contains information about the concentration of a single vitamin C rich ingredient, namely the acerola. On the packaging you can read that the formula provides a safe and significant dose of ascorbic acid (132 mg per daily dose of 45 ml). The additional ingredients improve proper functioning of the respiratory tract. The plant extracts in use soothe and moisturise the throat, the larynx and the vocal cords and refresh. Other information formats may include the total content of extracts rich in vitamin C, and the total quantity of ascorbic acid (by calculation from the weight of the extracts). An example of such a preparation is the Rosavit C dietary supplement that contains extracts of acerola and wild rose. Both the fruit of acerola and wild rose feature vitamin C, and the listing of the overall concentration (which is 50 mg per capsule in this case) simplifies interpretation. Among its advantages, Rosavit C supports the proper functioning of the immune system and reduces the sense of fatigue and exhaustion to elevate your fitness. Moreover, Rosavit C favours production of collagen, increases the intake of iron and helps protect the cells from oxidation stress. It is recommended for persons chronically exposed to stress, as well as pregnant and breast-feeding women. The recommendation is 1 capsule a day for children over 4 years of age and 1 to 4 capsules for adults. One capsule contains 62.5% of the RDA of vitamin C for adults.