Is Vitamin E Gluten Free?

Jay Harper on the story about Vitamin E and it’s relationship to Gluten FreeHello everyone!

This past weekend, I was in Chicago to tape an episode of Living Free TV, a tv series for people with gluten intolerance and other allergies.

The host, Jen Cafferty, posed an interesting question that I thought should shared with you all.

Her question was “What’s the story about Vitamin E and it’s relationship to Gluten Free?”

Great question! The short answer is … Maybe, and you can’t tell by the label because us manufacturers are required to name all Vitamin E, regardless of the source, under a single name… tocopherol.

Overall, Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that naturally occurs.  There are several forms of Vitamin E and they are generally organized into two headings, tocopherols and tocotrienols.

There is a difference between Vitamin E as a dietary supplement and Vitamin E for topographical application.  The National Institute of Health recognizes only Alpha-Tocopherol as a dietary supplement and there are no guidelines (that I can find) on topographical applications.

Vitamin is produced from a number of sources.  Mostly it is generated from refining wheat germ oil.  Other sources are found such as soy beans and other natural vegetables.

Obviously, any Vitamin E made from wheat germ oil or soybeans could potentially be a problem for those with Celiac disease, gluten intolerance and soy intolerance.

Important To Keep In Mind

  • Vitamin E is going to be found in refined or unrefined forms.
  • Refined Oils are exempt from allergen labeling.
  • Unrefined Vitamin E Oil must be labeled as Wheat if it is from wheat. (these are very rarely used in anything!)
  • The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act DOES NOT APPLY TO PERSONAL CARE PRODUCTS… period.
  • Vitamin E, regardless of the starting point, MUST be labeled the same Ei… tocopherol. This is a requirement by law.

The bottom line is that based on the ingredient name alone, tocopherol or tocopherol acetate, you will never know if it is gluten free or what the true source of that Vitamin E is unless you call the manufacturer and ask.

Most likely, they will not know.  The only way found to be absolutely sure a tocopherol is gluten free is to test the ingredient before and after the final product manufacturing.

If you see the ingredient Tocopherol and any variation of it such as tocopherol acetate, especially if the product is a product you might actually ingest, such as lipstick, then you should be on guard.

The Good News – the refining process removes the vast majority for the gluten protein if the product is derived from a glutenous source, such as wheat germ oil.  I would still recommend that you stay away from it if in fact the source is wheat germ oil.  The problem is, it’s impossible to tell unless the manufacturer knows, and 99.9% of the time, they don’t.

You must understand that the final product manufacturer normally does not create the raw ingredients for their products.  The raw ingredients are purchased from raw ingredient suppliers, most of which are not even located in the country.

Raw ingredients for personal care products are generally produced in China, Taiwan, India and Pakistan.  Some “boutique” suppliers exist in the US, Canada and north east Europe.  Raw Ingredient suppliers are not all equal.  Some are very cheap with incredibly low standards of quality and and some have a very high quality assurance program, but they are more expensive.

This translates like this; the cheaper the product, the cheaper the raw materials.  This is an economic principle that makes perfect sense when you think about it.

If you go to the drug store and you buy a $4.00 lipstick, you are going to be getting the cheapest and sloppiest combination of poor raw materials this planet has to offer.  If you consider that everyone in the food chain actually makes money from this inexpensive item, you can only imagine the poor tolerances and probably disgusting handling and production procedures.

And keep in mind, the FDA has no legal rights to make any determination on ingredients in cosmetics with the exception of a few colorants.  Otherwise, it is an almost completely self regulated industry.

Red Apple Lipsticks contain tocopherol acetate and I guarantee you it’s 100% gluten free.

reference : The Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils


Jay Harper

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