Myrciaria dubia, commonly known as Camu Camu, is a fruit native to South America. The berries that have a somewhat sour flavor are usually added to desserts or sweetened beverages or consumed in the form of blended juices instead of whole food.
Here’s everything you need to know about Camu Camu and its numerous health benefits, side effects, and dosage, among other amazing factors.
What is Camu Camu?
The Camu Camu shrub grows in flooded or swampy areas of the Amazon rain forests of Brazil, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela. The leaves and fruit are typically used as medicine.
For many years, Camu Camu has been used for various viral infections. These include common cold sores, chronic fatigue syndrome, eye conditions like cataracts, and hardening of the arteries, among several other conditions. However, there aren’t enough scientific studies or research to back these claims.
Some folks use Camu Camu to boost energy and maintain healthy eyes, gums, skin, and immune systems.
Does Camu Camu have other names?
Besides Myrciaria dubia, Camu camu is also known as Araza de Agua, Araca d’agua, Camo Camo, Cacari, Camu-Camu, Camocamo, Camu-camu Negro, Myrciaria paraensis, Guapuro Blanco, Rumberry, and Psidium dubium.
How does Camu Camu work?
The Camu Camu fruit contains a range of nutrients, including protein, vitamin C, fatty acids, beta-carotene, and so on. Also, it contains other relevant chemicals that may have some impact on your body. That said, there isn’t enough research or information to determine how the Camu Camu fruit might work in terms of treating/preventing chronic medical conditions.
Health benefits of Camu Camu
Camu Camu is widely preferred as a superfood— mainly because it contains a rich content of specific nutrients and vital plant compounds, which includes vitamin C.
Camu Camu has several health benefits. Let’s check some of the more evidence-based benefits of this incredibly healthy fruit.
Research shows that Camu Camu is high in vitamin C, which plays a vital role in our body. For instance, vitamin C helps improve your immune system. It is also needed for collagen formation, a protein that helps support your skin, bones, and muscles.
What’s more? Several scientific studies have shown that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. It protects the cells from free radicals, which are volatile molecules. Although free radicals tend to be a usual byproduct of cellular function, an excessive amount could cause poor diets and stress. It may also result in exposure to infection.
As free radicals slowly outnumber our body’s antioxidants, it causes oxidative stress damage. This condition is often linked to severe health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, etc.
You may be able to prevent oxidative stress by consuming foods high in antioxidants such as vitamin C. It may also help combat any free radical damage.
According to our trusted source, Camu Camu contains up to 3 g of vitamin C per 3.5 oz (100 g) of fruit.
Due to Camu Camu’s sour taste, it is rarely consumed fresh and is usually sold in powder form. Because the Camu Camu powder has no water, it contains significantly more vitamin C per gram than the fresh berries.
You’ll find it on the product’s nutrition labels that most Camu Camu powder can deliver more than 750 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C per teaspoon (5 g).
Note that the vitamin C level in Camu Camu products may vary based on, for instance, where the Camu Camu fruit was initially grown.
According to a source, Camu Camu offers incredible antioxidant capacities since the fruit is rich in vitamin C, not to mention other potent compounds, such as flavonoid antioxidants like ellagic acid and anthocyanins.
Antioxidants are substances that protect cells from harm caused by the aforementioned free radicals. Too many free radicals in the body may lead to severe conditions like cancer and heart disease over time.
The rich antioxidant content of the Camu Camu fruit can benefit people who smoke regularly. Smoking creates excess free radicals, which ultimately leads to oxidative stress.
A 7-day study conducted on several male smokers found that those who consumed 0.3 cups of Camu Camu juice (1,050 mg vitamin C) daily had reduced oxidative stress and inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein or CRP.
The exciting part is that there weren’t any changes in those markers in those who took a vitamin C pill. This means that the unique combination of alternative antioxidants from Camu Camu berries had significantly more robust antioxidant effects than vitamin C alone.
Is Camu Camu anti-inflammatory?
According to a study, Camu Camu is effective when it comes to reducing inflammation.
Chronic inflammation, as you are aware, can affect your cells’ health negatively. It’s also associated with serious conditions like heart disease, autoimmune disease, and cancer.
Camu Camu fruit pulp boasts ellagic acid, an antioxidant known to hinder the inflammation-enabling enzyme aldose reductase.
As we mentioned, a study conducted on a group of male smokers found that drinking 70 ml of Camu Camu (in juice form) for 7 days reduced hsCRP and inflammatory markers like interleukin (IL-6).
To everyone’s surprise, the same impacts weren’t visible in the group that consumed a tablet with similar amounts of vitamin C (1,050 mg). This proves that several beneficial components in the Camu Camu fruit can help you combat inflammation.
Camu Camu fruit seeds also contain strong anti-inflammatory properties. Several animal studies indicated, “Extract from the Camu Camu fruit seeds suppressed inflammation.
Although these results seem promising, more human studies are required to fully understand the possible anti-inflammatory benefits of the Camu Camu fruit.
Other possible health benefits
As of today, scientific studies on Camu Camu’s health benefits are limited.
However, some studies say Camu Camu can deliver a number of benefits, including:
- Reduced weight: A few animal studies have suggested that the Camu Camu berry could reduce body weight via increasing burnt calories and potentially altering the bacteria in your gut.
- Enhanced levels of blood sugar. A study in 23 healthy individuals demonstrated that Camu Camu minimized blood sugar spikes after having a high-carb meal.
- Improved blood pressure. Human studies and test-tube research have found that the Camu Camu berry can help lower blood pressure by increasing blood vessels.
- Antimicrobial properties. Another test-tube study shows that the seeds and peel of Camu Camu lowered the bacterial growth of Streptococcus mutans and Escherichia coli, two potentially harmful bacterias.
Remember, research in these fields is limited, and most available studies on Camu Camu are animal studies and test-tube findings. More high-quality human studies are required to confirm Camu Camu’s potential benefits.
Is Camu Camu good for your skin?
High in vitamin C, combined with other minerals and vitamins present in the Camu Camu berry, the fruit is an effective antioxidant to prevent premature skin aging. This is particularly when used with a decent sun protection cream. Here’s how Camu Camu helps protect your skin.
Camu Camu is high in niacin and vitamin C, meaning it strongly affects your melanin-producing cells. Therefore, any signs of discoloration, sun damage, or acne will fade gradually. Flawless skin, checked!
Protects against environmental damages
When paired with a rich factor SPF, the flavonoids and vitamin C in Camu Camu provide a dose of solid antioxidant protection against aging UV rays. Also, it protects your skin against any adverse effects of pollution and pollen that leads to dry and inflamed skin.
The Camu Camu fruit not only helps fix your pigmentation issues but also exfoliates dead skin cells to bring back a youthful glow!
Combats signs of aging
Dermatologists believe that Vitamin C is vital for collagen synthesis. Speaking of collagen, it makes your skin look healthy and plump, fighting the loss of elasticity.
Is Camu Camu safe for babies?
Organic Camu Camu powder is an underrated superfood for babies. It’s a tasty fruit extract derived from the Camu Camu berry. It’s a shame that parents often overlook Camu Camu. It is pretty much bursting with valuable nutrients beneficial for children, including vitamin C (compared to oranges, the Camu Camu berry contains between 25-50 times more vitamin C), B vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, phosphorus, calcium, and iron.
Your children will surely appreciate Camu Camu powder in shakes and smoothies over regular breakfast granolas.
Can you overdose on vitamin C?
Research shows that the average adult man requires 90 mg of vitamin C daily, whereas 70 mg for the average woman. Recommended amounts are usually higher for nursing and pregnant women.
We suggest you consult a doctor regarding your specific nutritional needs. The maximum recommended amount, i.e., the upper limit, would be 2,000 mg daily for an adult.
Now, overdosing on vitamin C is not life-threatening by any means. However, you may still experience some minor to major side effects, including:
- abdominal pain
- sleeping problems
- nausea (and vomiting)
Those who have hemochromatosis could be at risk of a vitamin C overdose. This is because this particular condition causes the body to store excess iron, exacerbated by consuming extra vitamin C. Note that this condition could potentially cause body tissue damage.
It’s also worth noting that vitamin C supplements can interact with specific medications, e.g., cancer or heart disease medications. Don’t forget to consult your physician before taking any supplements.
Does Camu Camu make your hair grow?
Camu Camu comes in oil form, and while you could try eating Camu Camu for hair care, experts recommend applying the oil directly to your hair and scalp.
As already mentioned, Camu Camu is high in vitamin C, and the antioxidants and vitamin C support healthy collagen levels on the scalp. Experts also say that collagen may potentially decrease age-related hair loss and thinning.
Experts also believe that Camu Camu oil can enhance your hair color and shine. Because it is safe to use topically, we can easily recommend Camu Camu for your hair care.
Camu Camu side effects
Here’s a list of possible side effects related to Camu Camu that you should know about!
There isn’t a lot of evidence linking Camu Camu to digestive problems. That said, lack of adequate research shows Camu Camu has no relation to digestive issues.
When it comes to Camu Camu, high Vitamin C levels can cause digestive problems. It increases stomach acid levels and may damage the intestines.
Insomnia, loss of appetite
Studies show that the Camu Camu tends to increase the serotonin levels in your body. Serotonin is vital for regulating your appetite and mood. This neurotransmitter tells your brain whether you’re hungry or happy.
While a healthy serotonin level may alleviate depression and make you feel better and happier, excessive amounts of it may lead to negative effects, like insomnia, appetite loss, etc. If this continues to occur for longer, it could easily lead to a lot of other issues.
Generally, digestive problems lead to constipation, bloating, and diarrhea, but it’s rarely that straightforward.
There are several other contributing factors, e.g., chronic diarrhea caused by the presence of bacteria, constipation caused by stones, etc.
However, with Camu Camu, an overdose of vitamin C could potentially lead to counter-reactions. As a result, your body will flush the extra vitamins through diarrhea and frequent urination. Therefore, take the right amount of Camu Camu for your safety. (more on this later).
Rapid heart rate
Rapid heart rates are an adverse effect of Camu Camu, especially if consumed excessively.
According to WebMD, Serotonin is a key chemical that induces palpitations. Normally, hypertensive people suffer from a rapid heart rate, often leading to stroke, palpitations, or even MI.
Although Camu Camu is extremely rare, it wouldn’t be wise to take it when under certain medications. We cannot stress this enough, but you must consult your doctor beforehand.
Excess vitamin C can cause serious problems. One of the main concerns is how vitamin C impacts iron absorption.
This crucial vitamin helps our body absorb iron. Well, it doesn’t sound all that terrible when you put it this way. However, you must remember that more vitamin C means more iron in your body, which could cause iron poisoning or an iron overdose. Excess iron often leads to vomiting; if unlucky, it can also lead to liver and kidney damage.
All these side effects mentioned above may sound scary on the surface, but the truth is, they are scarce. As long as you don’t overdose on Camu Camu— i.e., too much vitamin C can cause complications—you’ll be just fine.
Other side effects caused by Camu Camu are still under investigation. Just make sure to talk to your physician before considering Camu Camu. This will enable your physician to show you what you’re up against and how beneficial it will be.
Best way to use Camu Camu
As Camu Camu is somewhat sour, it can be unpleasant for those planning to eat the berry.
Luckily, you can now find Camu in several different forms, such as puree, juice, and pulp— often sweetened, so it tastes better.
The berry, however, is probably most preferred in the powder form, which kind of makes sense because the water is eliminated, enabling the concentration of the fruit to be higher and have a longer shelf-life.
You can easily add the powder to oats, smoothies, muesli, salad dressings, and yogurts. Mixing Camu Camu with different recipes and flavors will further mask the sour taste, making the taste more pleasant.
For those seeking tips, always combine Camu Camu with foods after cooking to reduce the loss of nutrients from all that heat, especially vitamin C.
Besides these forms, the Camu Camu fruit is also available as concentrated supplements and extracts.
How much Camu Camu should I take?
The right dose of Camu Camu depends on a few key factors, e.g., age, health, medical conditions, etc.
There isn’t enough scientific research to establish an appropriate dosage range for Camu Camu. Note that natural products aren’t always safe. Dosages are almost always vital. Our advice would be to follow the directions on product labels and consult your healthcare professional before taking Camu Camu.
Nutrition facts, at a glance:
Camu Camu boasts a powerful mixture of minerals, phytochemicals, and amino acids like leucine, valine, and serine. It also has about 355 micrograms of carotenoids. And besides zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, lutein is the key carotenoid in the Camu Camu fruit.
Acai and acerola are two of the most popular superfoods with rich vitamin C content, but Camu Camu offers even more vitamin C compared to those two.
According to our trusted source, 100 g of Camu Camu, aka Myrciaria dubia, contains:
0.2 g fat
0.4 g protein
2145 mg vitamin C (3575% DV)
0.2 mg copper (10% DV)
2.1 mg manganese (106% DV)
0.5 mg iron (3% DV)
15.7 mg calcium (2% DV)
12.4 mg magnesium (3% DV)
0.4 mg zinc (2% DV)
83.8 mg potassium (2% DV)
Like other natural fruits with superfruit status, e.g., acai, acerola, baobab, Amalaki, moringa, and maqui, Camu Camu is known for its high vitamin C content and antioxidants. While consuming these nutrients could help to improve health, Camu Camu will cost you more than your local fruits. There’s no evidence that eating it prevents or treats any serious health condition.
So, until there’s more scientific research confirming the benefits of Camu Camu, you’re better off sticking with anthocyanin-rich fruits like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, red and purple grapes, bilberries, cherries, black currants, etc.
Still, considering Camu Camu supplements? Talk to a health care professional to determine whether it is right for you.