Palm Mixed-Carotene – An Overview

Generally, Malaysian palm oil contains 500 to 700 ppm mixed-carotene, of which 37% is alpha-carotene while about 50% is beta-carotene [1]. The vitamin A activity of beta-carotene is higher than alpha-carotene and is expressed in retinol equivalents (RE; 1 RE = 1 µg retinol = 6 µg β-carotene = 12 µg of other provitamin A carotenes). Since the in vivo conversion of β-carotene to vitamin A is modulated by metabolic processes, the likelihood of toxicity or hypervitaminosis due to continued consumption of red palm oil may not happen [2]. Table below shows the composition of mixed-carotene in red palm oil.

Percentage of Mixed-carotene Composition of Red Palm Oil

Carotene

Red Palm Oil [3]

Phytoene

2.0

Phytofluene

1.2

cis-β-Carotene

0.8

β-Carotene

47.4

α-Carotene

37.0

cis-α-Carotene

6.9

ζ-Carotene

1.3

γ-Carotene

0.5

δ-Carotene

0.6

Neurosporene

Trace

β-Zeacarotene

0.5

α-Zeacarotene

0.3

Lycopene

1.5

Total (ppm)

545

References:

  1. Yap SC, Choo YM, Ooi CK, Ong ASH, Goh SH. Quantitative analysis of carotenes in the oil from different palm species. Elaeis 1991;3:309–18.
  2. Chandrasekharan N. Red palm oil for the prevention of vitamin A deficiency. Palm Oil Developments 1997; 27:20–4
  3. Choo YM, Ma AN, Basiron Y. Red palm oil: a potential source of dietary carotenes. Malaysian Oil Science and Technology 1993;2:54–5.