Sabinsa up ante in amla debate, demands AFS disclose alleged added Vitamin C


Several months ago Sabinsa fired the opening salvo in the affair by releasing test results of amla ingredients the company had purchased from the market.  Sabinsa’s point of view is that amla (Phyllanthus emblica​ or Emblica officinalis​ Gaertn., commonly known as Indian gooseberry) has many acidic, bioactive chemical constituents but has only trace amounts of Vitamin C.

Amla once touted as pinnacle of Vitamin C potential

The view of amla has become sharply divided over the years.  The early story of amla—the fruits of which are borne on a sizable tree native to South Asia—as an exceptionally rich source of Vitamin C reportedly started in the United States with none other than Nobel laureate Linus Pauling himself.  According to sources in the nutrition industry, during his early years of advocacy for high daily doses of Vitamin C, Pauling stated that amla was one of the richest naturally occurring sources of this critical nutrient.

This view was common back in the day.  According the reference work ‘The Wealth of Indian Raw Material, Vol. III,’​ by B.N. Sastri and published in 1955, amla was then regarded as one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. A paper published in 1997 seemed to agree with this view​, finding between 3mg/gram and 3.7mg/gram of Vitamin C in two amla varieties tested that formed the basis of an Ayurvedic preparation.

This view of the ingredient still persists among some experts in the botanical trade.  A 2018 report​ on an assay done on extracts of locally available fruit in Sri Lanka found amla (which the researchers called Phyllanthus emblica ‘local’​) the most Vitamin C dense of the fruits they tested.


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