A project to harness country’s rich reserves of Indian gooseberry as a safe, natural and universally acceptable source of Vitamin C has been approved by the Union government.

“The Government’s Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has entrusted the Centre of Food Technology at Allahabad University to standardise the processing of the gooseberry, also known as ’amla’, Professor G. K. Rai told PTI.

Rai, who is the Director of the Institute of Professional Studies, under which the the Centre of Food Technology functions, said the APEDA has also sanctioned a grant towards the project called “maximum vitamin retention and development of amla products”.

“At present all vitamin C supplements available are synthetic or artificially produced. Although these are effective, concerns have begun to emerge across the world over their possible ill-effects. Our project will explore the possibility of developing vitamin C from amla which is the richest natural source of this vital nutrient,” he said.

“Our researchers are working on the ways to preserve the nutritive value of the fruit, most of which often gets lost on account of poor warehousing and processing techniques,” Rai added.

“The richness of amla can be gauged from the fact that an average quality piece of the fruit, weighing about 100 grams, may contain up to 800 mg of vitamin C, much more than a commercially available tablet,” he said.

“So far, a team of researchers has succeeded in developing vitamin C in crystal form by treating amla extract with chemicals like acetone,” Rai said.

The vitamin C crystal component is quite high — about 70 per cent — and our researchers have successfully tried their hands at developing an energising drink with this crystal as base,” he claimed.

“We are even planning to get a patent for the crystal once we succeed in purifying it further and raising the Vitamin C component to 100 per cent, which will be an unique item of Indian export to European and American markets,” he added.

Buoyed by the initial findings, the researchers are also planning to develop “natural anti-oxidant from amla, which is a rich source of gallic acid or polyphenol”, Rai said, adding they will be procuring large quantities of the wild gooseberries, rich in polyphenol, from the jungles of Madhya Pradesh.

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