Vitamin A was identified a century ago and it was a first one to be found that is why it was named A. To maintain a good health, we need it in our diet.
Deficiency of the vitamin A can lead to problems with eyesight, bones and teeth formation, immune system and its ability to fight disease, tissue growth and repair. Furthermore, vitamin A contributes for a healthy skin and mucous membranes linings.
This vitamin is important for normal reproductive function, oxygen transport in blood, and brain and nerve health. In general, vitamin A is important for a good health.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means body absorbs it with fat. Partly, eating fat-free is not healthy because it can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
Carotenoids in plants provide basic building blocks for the vitamin A in animal foods. There are 700 known carotenoids. Beta-carotene (β-carotene) is the best known. The red, yellow and orange colors indicate carotenoids in the product. That is why red palm oil has such a saturated orange color. Red Palm oil can be named one of the richest supplements of beta-carotene: it has 15 time more of provitamin A carotenoids then carrot. Alpha-carotene (37 %) and beta-carotene (47 %) constitute about 84 % of the carotenoid content in red palm oil. (Fife 2007)
Vitamin E is also a fat-soluble vitamin. It is effective in battling free radicals within the fatty tissues. It gained its popularity also because of its effects on aging. It helps to relieve symptoms of menopause, prevents scars on wounds, boosts immune system and improves sexual potency. Within the cell membrane, vitamin E provides a first line of defense against free-radical attack. The cell membrane is composed predominantly of fatty acids, the unsaturated portion being easy prey to free radicals.
Tocopherols and tocotrienols are subgroups of Vitamin E. Tocopherol is the most common type found in our foods. Tocotrienols are less met in food. Usually, they are found in small quantities in food. Palm oil, on the other hand, is the richest source of tocotrienols. Actually, red palm oil contains both: tocotrienols and tocopherols.
“Palm oil derived from Elaeis guineensis represents the richest source of the lesser characterized vitamin E, α-tocotrienol. α- tocotrienol possesses unique neuroprotective properties not shared by other natural vitamin E family members. Oral supplementation of palm oil–derived α-tocotrienol reaches the brain in sufficient quantity to attenuate stroke-mediated neuropathy. Antioxidant-independent mechanisms of α-tocotrienol–mediated
neuroprotection are discussed in detail.” (Sen, Rink, and Khanna, 2010)
“Today, the naturally occurring vitamin E family is known to consist of both tocopherols and tocotrienols. The distribution of vitamin E in palm oil is 30% tocopherols and 70% tocotrienols. In contrast, other commonly used dietary vegetable oils, including corn, olive, peanut, sesame, soybean, and sunflower, contain tocopherols exclusively.” (Sundram, Sambanthamurthi and Tan, 2003)
“Enrichment of α- tocotrienol from crude palm oil for dietary supplementation is achievable, and to date represents the most cost effective and readily available source of natural α-tocotrienol.” (Sen, Rink, and Khanna, 2010)
To conclude, red palm oil is a rich source of Vitamin A and E. Thanks to the fat, containing in this oil, these vitamins are easily digested by the body. Therefor, red palm oil is a nutrient-rich daily food supplement.
Fife B, The Palm Oil Miracle, Piccadilly books, Colorado Springs, USA, 2007.
Sen C K, Rink C & Khanna S, Palm oil-derived natural vitamin E alpha-tocotrienol in brain health and disease, J Am Coll Nutr, 29 (2010) 314S.
Sundram K, Sambanthamurthi R & Tan YA. Palm fruit chemistry and nutrition. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2003; 12:355–362.