Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a vital nutrient for the human body to maintain normal function. Vitamin C has been known for its functional health benefits in energizing the body, boosting immunity, and providing structural support, such as helping to form cartilage, bone, and collagen. Vitamin C also has antioxidant properties protecting cells from damage caused by free radicals.
While vitamin C is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, most vitamin C used for supplements and beverages is synthetically derived. Strange considering that organic sales are ascending to new heights year over year, surpassing $63 billion in the U.S. for the first time in 2021 . However, artificial vitamin C is still the industry norm because of the known challenges in extracting it from natural sources. Fortunately, there are new vitamin C solutions for manufacturers of brands trying to maintain a natural or organic label.
In recent years, Applied Food Sciences (AFS), a Texas-based ingredient research company, has been studying new superfruits across the globe. From the Australian Kakadu Plum to the Amazonian Camu Camu, AFS has been building its expertise in understanding and extracting high concentrations of naturally derived vitamin C. One of the rising stars in this category is acerola cherries, a small stone fruit that grows predominantly in South America. AFS’ latest ingredient launch appears poised to support the beverage industry at the perfect time when immune health products are in high demand.
An Excellent Source of “Organic” Vitamin C
Did you know more than 70 fruits and vegetables contain nutritious levels of vitamin C that can contribute to a healthy diet? However, for most botanicals, the extractable amounts of vitamin C are insufficient in their raw form to support a commercially viable ingredient for food, beverages, and supplement applications. Applied Food Sciences addresses the known challenges of achieving enough potency, solubility, and stability with a first-of-its-kind ingredient called PurC® organic vitamin C, extracted from acerola cherry fruits.
Acerola contains seventy times more vitamin C than other fruits and vegetables by weight . According to AFS, the company can harness a potency of 25% vitamin C extract in a powdered delivery system that can easily dissolve in water. This innovative ingredient adds a subtle tart flavor with a hint of sweetness to any beverage, gummy, food, or supplement. Businesses can learn more about AFS’ newly developed PurC® organic vitamin C and request a sample by visiting https://appliedfoods.com/ingredients/purc/.
Benefits of Organic Vitamin C
Functional organic beverages are one of the fastest-growing categories in the market. According to SPINS, the growth rate for sales of natural and organic functional food & beverages is outpacing conventional by more than 200% . As brands switch from synthetic to organic-certified vitamin C, they benefit greatly by cleaning up their label to better align with consumer hot buttons like “plant-based” and “free-from artificial ingredients.” This provides one more pathway for brands to avoid synthetic additives.
When it comes to the human body, vitamin C is an essential micronutrient. It can boost a healthy immune system, protect against oxidation, promote heart health, assist with iron absorption, and assist with collagen formation to help maintain healthy skin. Organic vitamin C can also support a nutrient content claim. The daily value (DV) for vitamin C is 90 mg for adults . A product can be considered “High in Antioxidant Vitamin C” if it contains 20% or more of the RDI for vitamin C, meeting the level for “high” defined by 21 CFR §101.54(b) by the FDA. For a product to qualify for a “Good Source of Antioxidant Vitamin C” claim, it must contain 10-19% of the RDI for vitamin C .
Applications for Organic Vitamin C
By working with thousands of brands each year, Applied Food Sciences has valuable insights into how manufacturers successfully incorporate vitamin C into their products. Due to the exceptionally high solubility of PurC® organic vitamin C extract, the most common applications are liquids such as ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs).
“Shots and RTDs now can easily add organic vitamin C in their ingredients because as little as 120mg of our fully-soluble PurC® is considered an excellent source of vitamin C,” explains Jackson Zapp, VP of Innovation at AFS. “Other products that prioritize solubility include stick packs, powdered drink mixes, and effervescent tablets, where PurC® can blend with other dry ingredients in the formula. However, once the end consumer mixes the product with water, PurC® will readily dissolve into solution.”
An often-undervalued formulation benefit for organic vitamin C is that it is a natural pH modifier. Due to its acidic nature, PurC® can alter the pH levels of the beverages, which can assist in the stability and shelf life of the final product. A lower pH environment in beverages will aid in reducing the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Experts suggest targeting a pH threshold of 4.5 or below . According to AFS, ongoing lab tests confirm that PurC® has the ability to alter beverages starting at an initial pH of 6.27 to below 4.35, meeting that target threshold.
While organic vitamin C in PurC® is most known for its health benefits, it also has practical formulation advantages for food manufacturers. For example, PurC® is a potent antioxidant that can help prevent baked goods from going stale. For bread, pastries, and other baked goods, the powdered delivery system of PurC® is ideal because it can blend easily with other dry ingredients and is relatively stable in high heat.
Sustainability and Certifications
The acerola fruit for PurC® comes from Brazil and is produced by a network of small-scale agricultural farmers. Sourcing in this manner helps improve transparency, monitor environmental impact, and secure a more stable supply chain that can scale to meet today’s organic vitamin C market. PurC® is also certified Kosher, Halal, Non-GMO Project Verified, and USDA organic.
For over 20 years, Applied Food Sciences (AFS) has supported the natural products industry with innovative functional ingredients. From rural farmers to the largest companies in the world, AFS values every stakeholder and is proud to introduce PurC® organic vitamin C to the food, beverages, and supplement industries. To see the entire portfolio of AFS ingredients, please visit https://appliedfoods.com/inquiry-form/.
 Kovalcik, Reana. 2022 Organic Industry Survey Shows Steady Growth, Stabilizing Purchasing Patterns.
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 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Food Labeling: Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels.2016
 U.S. Food & Drug Administration. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 CFR §101.54(b).
 Wendell, E. Intro To Product Shelf Life Stability And Acidity. Organic Food Incubator. 2019