Last updated: June 19, 2020

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Acerola is a tropical fruit with incredible health benefits, and for this reason, it’s becoming increasingly popular amongst Canadian consumers and healthcare professionals. Also commonly called Barbados cherry, or West Indies cherry, this shrub-like fruit is believed to have originated in southern Mexico and the Caribbean. Today, it’s known for its high Vitamin C content and the presence of carotenoids and phenolic compounds which make it a nutritional powerhouse.

This fruit is rarely eaten fresh since it has an exceptionally acidic flavour. For this reason, it’s the most common presentation in is as an extract, in capsules or integrated into a juice. The vitamin C content in acerola works makes it a very effective antioxidant. The presence of antioxidants is known to help prevent and manage certain cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, as well as curbing signs of ageing. If you’d like to find out about all the health benefits of this sensational fruit, keep reading.

Key Facts

  • Acerola is available as an extract, chewable tablets and capsules and even as a juice. These forms of intake are often preferred to the fresh fruit since it’s taste is highly acidic.
  • Acerola supplements have a high concentration of Vitamin C. Which not only makes this fruit a powerful antioxidant. This vitamin is also important in other important processes, such as the synthesis of collagen, energy metabolisation and the proper functioning of the immune system.
  • Additionally, acerola has more antioxidants, like polyphenols and carotenoids. These compounds are known for neutralising the oxidising agents known for inducing cell degeneration. All these antioxidants make acerola a great tool to help prevent cardiovascular diseases and the growth of cancer cells.

The best acerola supplements on the Canadian market

In Canada, there is an increasing supply of acerola supplements, making it very easy for anyone to enjoy the health advantages of this powerful fruit. If you’re looking for a quick and simple way to ingest the supplement, capsules and chewable will be the best for you. Nonetheless, keep in mind that extracts and juices are very functional and they can be added to many foods and drinks. This next section includes some of the best supplements and presentations available in the Canadian Market.

Mr. Ros — Natural Vitamin C Acerola Powder (16 oz.)

Mr. Ros’s Natural Vitamin C Acerola Powder comes in an easy to store, resealable zip lock back to keep your supplemental powder fresh and active until the very end. Acerola contains as much as 17% vitamin C, while oranges contain only .05%, making it one of nature’s richest sources of vitamin C. The vitamin C in this Acerola Cherry powder is better absorbed by humans than other synthetic ascorbic acid products and will provide increased benefits.

This delicious nutritional supplement is great to put in orange juice, mango juice, smoothies or to put directly into the water for a refreshing flavoured water drink. The manufacturer suggests taking 3.2 grams (about 1 tsp.) per day to help improve collagen production, strengthen muscles and blood vessels, help heal wounds and keep teeth healthy. Make sure to store this powder in a cool, dry, dark place and out of the reach of children.

Now Foods — Acerola Powder (6 oz.)

This 4:1 acerola extract powder is one of the best natural sources of vitamin C. By way of its powerful antioxidant properties, it actively scavenges free radicals in the body. This purchase includes two, 170-gram airtight containers that keep the acerola powder fresh and active. This easy to take nutritional supplement is manufactured without wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or tree nut ingredients; making this nutrient great to incorporate into a wide variety of diets.

This is a very reasonably priced acerola powder that has powerful effects alongside a great, subtle taste. This acerola powder contains natural sources of vitamin C, unlike many supplements that contain ascorbic acid produced in a lab. Because of this, the stomach absorbs this supplemented much easier and the nutrients are more readily digested.

Naturelo — Vitamin C with Organic Acerola Cherry and Citrus Bioflavanoids

Unlike most other vitamin C supplements on the market that are made of cheap, synthetic, ascorbic acid, this product is made from real fruits and plant-based nutrients; the price is the first indicator of its high quality. Natural bioflavonoids from oranges has been added to each this formula to enhance the bioavailability of the 100% natural vitamin C from organic Acerola cherries. Each capsule provides 500mg of vitamin C from Organic Acerola Cherries.

This supplement comes in 90 easy to take capsules and is free of GMOs, soy, gluten, yeast, dairy, eggs, nuts, caffeine, colouring, preservatives, and artificial flavourings. It is a supplement suitable for almost anyone. Naturelo keeps up with the latest news in scientific findings that have shown bioflavonoids play an important role in the absorption of vitamin C as much as 35%. This supplement helps increase collagen production and stimulates antibody production to increase the health of the immune system.

Optimally Organic — Freeze Dried Acerola Cherry Powder (.5 lbs)

The raw, all-natural Acerola Cherry Powder by Optimally Organic comes from organic, whole acerola cherries that acts as a nourishing sugar substitute. This tasty, nutrient-dense treat is perfect for kids and adults to put in juice, milk, smoothies, yogurt or cereal. Its an excellent immune system booster, anti-aging formula, and contains nutrients essential for the production of collagen.

This is Amazon’s Top Choice for Acerola Cherry Powders. Optimally Organic offers this high-quality powder in a ½ lb. resealable bag. Although it comes at a bit higher of a price, it is one of the rawest, most pure acerola cherry supplements on the market. It contains bioavailable vitamin C complexes that are only available in raw foods. It contains rutin, potassium, dietary fiber and living enzymes such as Tyrosinase. This supplement is completely free of chemicals, carries, and preservatives. Simply take 1 heaping teaspoon daily for all its reported benefits.

American Health — Super Acerola Plus Chewable Wafers (500 mg)

American Health has created an easy to consume chewable tablet that allows you to get your daily intake of all-natural vitamin C with a delicious natural berry flavour. The formula is completely vegetarian with acerola made from acerola berries. It contains 833% of your daily value of vitamin C to ensure maximum benefits. This rich source of vitamin C provides antioxidant and immune system support.

Because it’s easy to consume formula, this is a great option for kids and adults who don’t like taking pills. They have a super tangy, cherry flavour that makes you feel like you’re eating a sweet-tart! This container of supplements comes with 300 chewable tablets, allowing you to get your vitamin C needs for months, all at an extremely affordable price.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about acerola supplements

Just like with any other food supplement, the key to reaping all of its nutritional benefits is to consume it correctly. For this reason, in this next section, we include all of the information you need to know about this wonderful fruit in order to make the best use of it. We will address things like daily recommended dose, most convenient ingestion methods, and as always, answers to the most frequently asked questions among uses.

Acerola produces cherry-like berries, but it’s not a true cherry.
(Source: Somyot Pattana: 60466390/ 123rf.com)

What is acerola exactly?

Acerola is a plant native to tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere. It’s also commonly called the West Indies cherry, Barbados cherry, or just simply “acerola.” It’s believed that the shrub-like plant originated in southern Mexico and the Caribbean. Acerola produces cherry-like berries, these berries are pleasant-tasting once ripe and acidic when green.

The fruit is bright red and sweet-tasting when it’s fully mature. However, we should note that most of the acerola’s health benefits come from the fact that it is so rich in vitamin C —the more the fruit ripens, the more vitamin C is lost — and acerola ripens very quickly. For this reason, they are not often sold fresh in stores since the fruits deteriorate very quickly once picked from the tree.

What does acerola taste like?

Acerola can have different tastes. The fresh fruit before it ripens has a very acidic taste that turns bitters sweet as the fruit matures. When the fruit is green, it contains very little sugar and a high vitamin C content. As the fruit matures, its taste becomes more agreeable as the level of sugar increases and the level of vitamin C decreases.

Dr. Ben Kim

“Keep in mind that a lot of supplements in the market are made with synthetic sources of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Always try to opt for products that are made with the full vitamin C complex that naturally occurs in organic fruits like acerola.”

How to eat acerola fruit?

Fresh acerola fruit is mostly eaten in countries where the fruit grows. This is because the fruit can be brought straight from the tree to the market when it’s fully ripe. Keep in mind that exporting the fresh fruit is not really an option since the fruit has such a short shelf life. After it’s been harvested, it will begin to spoil in as little as 2 to 4 days.

The good news is that in Canada, you have the choice of many forms of acerola supplements. You can find them in the form of juice, capsules, chewable tablets or as a powdered extract. Furthermore, acerola fruit can also be used to make preserves, gelatos, and chutneys. Nonetheless, we should note that these confections will not bring the same health advantages.

What nutrients are found in acerola?

Acerola is rich in fibre, sugars, vitamins, and minerals. A 100g serve of fresh and ripe acerola is 92% water and it has 32 calories, 7.7 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fibre and 1700 milligrams of vitamin C. This fruit also has B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. When the fruit is not fully ripe, it can still be very sour.

At this point, it can have a concentration of vitamin C that can be up to 4830 mg per 100 grams. This means that acerola, depending on how ripe it is, can have 10 to 100 times more vitamin C than an orange. Other valuable components found in this fruit include polyphenols and carotenoids.

Acerola cherry is a plant that is native to tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere.
(Source: Getsaraporn Thammason: 83481078/ 123rf.com)

What are the health benefits associated with acerola?

In the countries that naturally grow acerola, it is often eaten fresh and as part of a balanced diet. It is also used as a fat-burning tool when trying to shed some pounds. Moreover, acerola supplements (extracts, juice, and capsules) have a range of reported health benefits which include:

  • Antioxidant protection against free radicals. Free radicals are molecules are partly responsible for cell oxidation, which is a major cause for disease or premature aging. Some conditions linked to oxidative stress include: atherosclerosis, chronic fatigue, cancer and certain eye, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases.
  • Helps maintain adequate vitamin C levels in smokers and those who recently quit. Smokers need higher levels of vitamin C than those who don’t smoke.
  • Slows down age-related macular degeneration. Thanks to acerola’s high levels of beta-carotene (provitamin A) and lutein, it works to manage this disease — which is the leading cause of blindness in adults.
  • Helps regulate blood sugar levels. This basically means that it works prevent spikes in blood glucose levels. This is quality is particularly relevant to diabetics.
  • Protects the skin against damage caused by free radicals and the ultraviolet radiation (wrinkles). Both fresh acerola and in supplements can help encourage collagen production — a protein responsible for keeping skin firm and smooth.
  • Works to improve and regulate the state of mind. Since vitamin C plays a key role in norepinephrine production, the consumption of acerola helps improve overall emotional wellbeing.
  • Boosts the immune system. It has antimicrobial action against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens.
  • Can have a role in the prevention of various types of cancer. The anthocyanin found in acerola has been known to have tumor-fighting action, for breast and lung cancer.
  • Acerola supports increased absorption of iron. Iron is present in green leafy vegetables, nuts, legumes, seeds, egg yolk, and other foods. Its a key nutrient in helping prevent anemia, which is often caused by iron deficiency.

Why is the vitamin C in acerola so important?

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient at all stages of human development. Acerola and its supplements are an excellent source of this vitamin. Meaning, they meet and exceed the daily intake requirements for both adults and children. Some of the main functions of vitamin C in the body are:

  • It increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This is the type of iron found in non meat sources.
  • Supports healthy immune function. It is an essential nutrient involved in the proper functioning of the immune system.
  • Helps fight cold and flu symptoms. It also helps speed up recovery time.
  • Vitamin C facilitates the metabolism of energy. Vitamin C allows the body to access the energy found in food.
  • Stimulates collagen production. In the skin, tendons, joints and bones.
  • Acts as a powerful antioxidant. Which works to neutralise the negative effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • Assists in the synthesis of mood-related neurotransmitters. Working as a natural and powerful mood regulator.

Which antioxidants can be found in acerola?

Acerola is blend of many antioxidants, it has a high concentration of vitamin C, phenolic compounds (flavonoids, anthocyanin and phenolic acids) and carotenoids (beta carotene and lutein). All of these ingredients work together to slow down signs of ageing and they also play an important role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, ocular conditions and cancer.

Acerola contains from 1 to 4.5 percent vitamin C (1,000 to 4,500 mg/100 g) in the edible portion of the fruit. (Source: Supakorn Rovijit: 78551558/ 123rf.com)

What types of acerola supplements are there and how do I know which one is right for me?

There are 3 main presentations for acerola supplements: tablets (most of them chewable), juices and powdered extracts. Even though all of these formats have distinct qualities, they are all an excellent source of vitamin C. The main characteristics of these types of acerola supplements are the following:

  • Tablets: are usually made with gelatine or other binding agents, creating a capsule or tablet that holds acerola extract inside. Moreover, chewable tablets can be flavoured with natural ingredients like oranges or other citric flavours.
  • Powdered extract: is made by cold drying (freezing) the acerola fruit, dehydrating it to create a mass that is crushed into powder. This presentation has a more concentrated natural acerola flavour. Ingesting it can be done by mixing it with other liquids or foods.
  • Juice: the juice is extracted by cold pressing the fruit, this process retains most of the vitamin C, since the nutrient is thermo-sensitive and it’s destroyed or degraded when exposed to high temperatures. The juice will have the characteristic acerola flavour, and it can be drunk on its own or mixed into a smoothie.
Features Tablets Powder Juice
Flavour These may have neutral or natural acerola taste.
They can also be flavoured with other ingredients (eg. citrus).
Intense acerola flavour. Pleasant, sweet and sour taste, typical of acerola.
Method of intake They can be taken on their own, or with water. However, most tablets are flavoured and chewable. Commonly mixed with water, milk, yoghurt, vegetable juice or smoothies. Can be drunk on its own, it doesn’t need to be mixed or diluted with water.
Amount of processing Moderate. The extract needs to be mixed with other ingredients in order to be made into a capsule or tablet. Low Low
Recommended dose/serving 1 or 2 tablets a day   3 to 5 grams daily 50 to 100 ml
Amount of vitamin C per serving 500 mg per tablet or capsule on average. 438 to 730 mg. 800 to 1600 mg.

What is the recommended dose for acerola supplements?

For capsules and tablets, the recommended dose is 1 or 2 tablets per day. If you opt for the juice, you should have around 50 to 100 ml daily. When using a powder supplement, usually one or half a teaspoon is enough. We always recommend you read the specific products recommended dose, and if you’re still unsure about how much to take, don’t hesitate to consult your family doctor.

What is the difference between acerola supplements and traditional vitamin C supplements?

Acerola and standard vitamin C supplements have many of the same health benefits, as this nutrient is really the star component of the fruit. In fact, this fruit is often used as a primary ingredient in the production of natural vitamin C supplements.

The differences between acerola and pure vitamin C supplements lies in the anthocyanin and carotenoids found in the fruit. This means that the combination of the nutrients in acerola will have additional benefits not found in vitamin C supplements. These benefits include its blood regulating actions and antimicrobial properties, as well as its role in preventing macular degeneration.

Benefits Acerola supplements Vitamin C supplements
Antioxidant Yes Yes
Blood sugar regulator Yes No
Strengthens the immune system Yes Yes
Prevents macular degeneration associated with age Yes No
Stimulates collagen production Yes Yes
Antimicrobial Yes No

Can children consume acerola supplements?

Children over the age of 4 can have acerola supplements. Keep in mind, however, that when it comes to tablets and capsules, you should always make sure concentration is suitable for their age. It should go without saying that you should always consult with your paediatrician before giving your child any kind of supplement, natural or not.

Celeste Robb-NicholsonDoctor and Editor-in-Chief, Harvard Women’s Health Watch

“Perhaps the best-known and most widely promoted use of high-dose vitamin C is to prevent or treat the common cold.”

Who can benefit from taking acerola supplements?

Acerola supplements in Canada are considered safe, and rigorous standards and regulations ensure that there are also quality products out there to choose from. Nonetheless, before buying an acerola supplement, make sure to consider whether you really need it or not. The next list includes those who would benefit most from adding an acerola supplement to their diet:

  • Smokers and those who recently quit smoking
  • Vegans and vegetarians who have suffered from an iron deficiency
  • People with a diet low in fruits and vegetables — fresh fruits and veggies are the main sources of vitamin C
  • People suffering from a cold or the flu
  • Diabetics (who don’t use insulin)
  • People with a predisposition for age-associated macular degeneration

What are the negative effects associated with the use of acerola?

First, we should note that during childhood, pregnancy and while breastfeeding, any nutritional supplements should only be taken under the strict supervision of a medical professional or your family doctor. As you will see below, when acerola is concerned, there are certain times one should exercise caution when supplementing:

  • Patients with chronic liver or kidney conditions. This does not necessarily mean they cannot take acerola supplements, but people suffering from these conditions should consult with their family doctor before taking any dietary supplements.
  • Latex allergies. There can be a negative interaction between latex allergens and acerola molecule.
  • Hemochromatosis. This illness is characterised by the disproportionate accumulation of iron in the tissues and organs. As you know by now, vitamin C increases the absorption of iron.
  • People who take phenothiazines. This ends up being counterproductive since vitamin C can limit or block their effects.

Aside from these special cases, acerola supplements are generally safe for anyone to use. We should note that vitamin C is hydro-soluble, meaning that any accumulated excess will be discharged through urine — making it very hard for someone to overdose on acerola. Nonetheless, excess vitamin C may cause diarrhoea, stomach pain, and kidney stones.

Shopping Criteria

Despite the fact that acerola supplements are generally safe, one should always condor certain important aspects in order to choose the best supplement for yourself. If you have any of the conditions that could benefit from supplementing with acerola, or you simply want to take advantage of its strong antioxidant powers, check out this next set of criteria to help you find the best product.

Format

The easiest way to take acerola supplements is in tablets. Some of these may have to be swallowed with a sip of water, but the majority of options in the Canadian market are chewable. Furthermore, the juice is also a simple supplementation format — just make sure to keep in the fridge after you’ve opened it and keep in mind it’s expiration.

Last but not least, the powdered extract is perfect for people looking for a supplement which is 100% natural. This format is produced by freeze-drying the acerola fruit and then crushing it into a fine powder. The one drawback to this format option is that you need to mix it with some kind of liquid or food in order to consume it.

Acerola fruit is also is found in northern South America, Central America, Texas, and Florida. (Source: Getsaraporn Thammason: 78797318/ 123rf.com)

Flavour

The juice, along with the chewable tablets, will have a subtle, yet pleasant taste. The powder, on the other hand, has an intense, acre flavour, which can be nice if taken with a shake or a smoothie made with other citrus fruits, berries, pineapple or banana.

Ease of consumption

This is more relevant with children that can or need to have acerola supplements. It is of utmost importance to choose products that not only have agreeable taste, they must also have a suitable vitamin C concentration for their age (60 – 120 milligrams per tablet). Moreover, try to look for organic products because kids organisms are more susceptible to toxins and additives.

Allergies

Even though acerola is naturally lactose and gluten-free, anyone with these restrictions, allergies or intolerances should carefully check the list of ingredients. Keep in mind that people who have an allergy to latex should not have any acerola.

foco

Acerola produces cherry-like berries, but it’s not a true cherry. These berries are pleasant-tasting and have been used in modern and folk medicine. Traditional uses include treatment for liver ailments, diarrhoea, dysentery, coughs, and colds.

Production and processing conditions

It is always advisable to opt for supplements which are made with sustainable farming practices, not only because of health reasons but also to care for the planet. Another point to consider regarding these criteria is the packaging, it’s always preferable to choose products made with recyclable packaging.

Always keep in mind that it’s much better to buy supplements that are made without any artificial colours, flavours or aromas. This is especially important with acerola since it is a fruit that goes bad very fast; meaning sometimes, excessive additives are being used to hide degeneration of the original raw fruit.

Summary

Acerola is a fruit which is rich in vitamin C, phenolic compounds and carotenoid pigments. The presence of these key nutrients results in acerola being one of the best natural sources of antioxidants. This nutrient content gives this fruit the ability to prevent illness and slow down ageing caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. These supplements can be found in the form of tablets, capsules, juice or powder.

Because vitamin C and acerola pigments (anthocyanin, beta carotene, and lutein) play key roles in the proper functioning of the body, these supplements are beneficial for both children and adults alike, however, when in doubt, it’s always important to consult your family doctor. Keep in mind that even though these supplements are often safe, it’s always important not to exceed the recommended daily dose.

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(Source of featured image: Somyot Pattana: 29697752/ 123rf.com)

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