Vitamin E: where does it come from and how is it used?
Vitamin E is a well-known and powerful antioxidant used often in natural hair and skincare formulations, and it exists in eight different chemical forms. These include alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. Alpha (or a-tocopherol) is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements so it is the form that is most studied. Numerous foods provide vitamin E including nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils, and significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. Most vitamin E is in the form of gamma-tocopherol from soybean oil. Essential formulates with and sells two types of vitamin E; vitamin E TPGS and non-GMO vitamin E.
Vitamin E TPGS (INCI: Tocophersolan)
Vitamin E TPGS is a highly stable form of vitamin E. This form of vitamin E is stable when exposed to oxygen, heat, light, or oxidizing agents but unstable in an alkaline environment. For this reason it is always important to be aware of the pH of your products. The raw material for vitamin E-TPGS is d-a-tocopherol, derived from soybean oil distillate. Vitamin E TPGS is used in hair and skincare formulations as a water-soluble vitamin E and as an enhancer for other actives in the formulation. It also serves as ethanol-free, hypoallergenic, non-irritating emulsifier.
Non-GMO Vitamin E
Most vitamin E is derived from soybeans, however, the process to produce vitamin E requires a lot of soy. It takes about 20 acres of soybeans to produce only 2.2 pounds of vitamin E. While soybeans themselves aren’t in any short supply, the process of distilling and deodorizing the oil to produce vitamin E is creating a shortage of vitamin E. This is leading to adulteration of vitamin E with cheaper, more readily available ingredients such as rosemary extracts. Essential is not willing to gamble with quality when it comes to ingredients so we have chosen to use only non-GMO vitamin E derived from sunflower. The sunflowers are sustainably grown in Argentina and are in massive supply, so little concern of shortage or fluctuating prices. Also, the sunflowers are non-GMO, which is hard to find with soy products. We have found the quality to be very high and this vitamin E performs beautifully in formulations.
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