The Indian Gooseberry, also known as amla or amalaki, belongs to a group of herbs that, according to Ayurvedic texts, promote longevity, induce nourishment, and prevent the effects of aging. Today, modern science has been equally fascinated by what one study calls “the Ayurvedic wonder,” which supports everything from digestion to elimination, immunity, and inner and outer skin health. (1)
More famously, it has repeatedly shown to support heart and arterial health, healthy blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels already within the normal range, and overall vitality. (2-7)
All that said, I personally use amalaki regularly for the health of the inner skin. This includes the skin that lines your entire digestive tract, heart, arteries, respiratory tract, as well as the outer skin.
The Vitamin C Content Debate – finally some science!
There is much controversy over how much vitamin C is actually in this special berry. Some say there is barely any, while other sources say it has 20 times the amount of vitamin C as an orange. Still others say it has 60 times the vitamin C of an orange, while others assert it has 2-300 times more vitamin C content than an orange!
What is most frustrating is that most websites just copy these numbers from other websites and none of them show any scientific proof to back up their statements. Thus, I decided to dig and find the science regarding vitamin C and amalaki. The results are very interesting!
We know that the average amalaki berry, according to the USDA, is about 22.5 grams by weight.
According to one study, the amount of vitamin C in one amalaki berry is 5.38mg/gram. So, 5.38mg/gram x 22.5 grams = 121mg of vitamin C per amalaki berry. (7)
Amalaki versus Oranges
A medium orange weighs about 130 grams and has about 70mg of vitamin C. If we were to compare the vitamin C content in an orange to an amalaki berry, pound for pound, the amalaki berry would have 10 times more vitamin C than the orange!
- 130g orange divided by one 22.5g amalaki berry = 5.8 amalaki per orange.
- A medium-sized orange is 5.8 times as large as an amalaki berry.
- If one amalaki fruit has 121mg of vitamin C, than 5.8 times that = 702mg of vitamin C when compared to an orange of the same weight. Remember, a medium-sized orange has 70mg of vitamin C.
- There are about 121mg of vitamin C in one amalaki berry compared to 70mg of vitamin C in a medium sized orange.
- Based on the fact that an orange is 5.8 times as large as an amalaki berry, amalaki has 10 TIMES the amount of vitamin C as an orange when we measure equal weights of both fruits.
So, it’s nice to finally have the facts, but 1 gram of amalaki power (which is two 500mg capsules) doesn’t even even 11mg of vitamin C. Thus, while taking amalaki as a supplement will not supply us with a large amount of vitamin C, it can contribute many health benefits that are largely attributed to vitamin C.
What Makes Amalaki the Best Vitamin C Berry?
Most scientific studies attribute it’s health benefits to its potent antioxidant capabilities which, according to one study, is due to its vitamin C content. Research suggests that vitamin C is responsible for 45-70% of these antioxidant properties, which drive most of its health benefits. (7) Thus, it seems that a small amount of all-natural vitamin C goes a long way in boosting health benefits and longevity. Maybe less is more!
Perhaps nature never intended for us to be ingesting mega dosages of vitamin C, as the modest amounts found in plants deliver a plethora of health benefits that are arguably more well-rounded than over-the-counter vitamin C tablets.
This foray into the vitamin C content of amalaki has revealed many of the unsung benefits of this potent fruit, and has finally given us a scientific comparison of the vitamin C content of oranges versus amalaki.
What is extremely compelling about these findings is the science suggesting that nature’s intent does not seem to be oriented towards clobbering us with mega doses of vitamin C (or anything for that matter). It seems nature’s most powerful asset is its ability to take a small amount of vitamin C and use it to activate an entire matrix of chemicals that deliver a multitude of health benefits. Amalaki is considered by many to be Ayurveda‘s most powerful fruit and it seems to employ this “less is more approach” to health better than most.
What has been your experience with amalaki? If you haven’t tried it before, what are your main sources of vitamin C?