A little berry from South America might just be our missing fountain of youth. Camu camu, a berry from the Amazon region, packs the highest recorded amount of natural vitamin C known on the planet, as well as tons of other vitamins and minerals essential to keeping you looking and feeling young.
Vitamin C acts as a crucial antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals responsible for many chronic diseases and accelerated aging. Our bodies can’t make it on their own, so we have to get vitamin C from the foods we eat. Just one serving of camu camu powder contains about 1180% of your daily vitamin C value – you’d have to eat more than 10 oranges to get the same amount!
Some studies suggest that people who eat foods rich in vitamin C may benefit from lower rates of cancer (including skin cancer, cervical cancer and possibly even breast cancer). Antioxidant-rich diets are also associated with lower blood pressure and help protect heart health.
Vitamin C may also help prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of legal blindness in people over 55. It is also a crucial building block for collagen, which gives skin its elasticity. The breakdown of collagen is largely responsible for the formation of wrinkles.
Camu camu often contains healthy doses of iron, niacin, riboflavin, phosphorus, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium and amino acids, like leucine, serine, thiamine and valine, that help your body absorb vitamin C. While it has not been extensively studied in humans, animal studies suggest it has anti-inflammatory effects.
The fruit tends to have a sour taste, which is why it is often consumed as a powder supplement. Try one teaspoon of powder once a week. You can add it to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies or make a refreshing citrus soda with seltzer water, camu camu powder and a splash of lemon juice.
Though camu camu is generally believed to be safe, studies on camu camu are lacking, so much about the safety of long term use or large doses are unknown. For this reason, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid camu camu.
Extremely large amounts of vitamin C may cause a variety of negative health effects, including digestive upset and kidney problems, which is why you should not exceed the recommended dosing. In particular, people prone to digestive ulcers or kidney stones may want to avoid high doses of vitamin C. Always talk to your doctor before starting a new supplement.