Is Vitamin E Gluten Free?

Believe it or not, gluten is found not only in certain foods, but in products as well. According to Celiac.org, gluten “is a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods [and non-food products], even ones that would not be expected.”

For those that are trying to avoid gluten all together, it’s difficult to know just what contains gluten. Why is it so difficult to discern what products, both food and non-food, contain gluten? Mainly, it’s because such ingredients, such as Vitamin E, are required to be named by manufacturers under a single name… tocopherol.

What is tocopherol acetate (Vitamin E) made from?

Tocopherol acetate, also known as Vitamin E acetate or tocopheryl acetate, is a form of vitamin E that’s regularly found in dietary supplements and skin care products, as it has an anti-inflammatory effect on your skin. In addition, Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that is added to some foods or found naturally in others. There are several forms of Vitamin E and they are generally organized into two headings, tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Vitamin E is produced from a number of sources. Mostly it is generated from refining wheat germ oil. Other sources are found such as soybeans and other natural vegetables. Tocopherol is the only form of Vitamin E known to meet human requirements. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is also involved in metabolic processes and immune function. Antioxidants are known to help protect your body from dangerous and damaging compounds called free radicals.

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 E is a fat-soluble compound that is added to some foods or found naturally in others.

Vitamin E health and deficiency

provides a multitude of health benefits. It is known to promote health while treating or preventing certain diseases, including cancer, coronary heart disease, cognitive deterioration, and eye disorders. Conversely, individuals with fat-malabsorption conditions, such as celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis, or Crohn’s disease can have a Vitamin E deficiency. This is due to the fact that the digestive tract needs fat to actually absorb Vitamin E.

Does Vitamin E have gluten?

People who live without gluten, especially for health reasons, must ensure that whatever they ingest does not contain gluten due to its adverse reactions. Not only should they be aware of foods, but they should also be wary of topical products, such as beauty products. According to Gluten.org, “Gluten reactions occur when gluten is ingested and the digestive tract is exposed to it. [It] is a protein too large to be absorbed through the skin. Substances absorbed through the skin do not have direct access to the gastrointestinal system. Skin reactions to gluten-containing products are most likely an allergic reaction and are not related to celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.”

Beauty products, such as cosmetics (i.e. lipsticks) oftentimes use wheat and/or oat-based ingredients as additives.

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.

However, 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. 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.

Luckily, the amount of gluten used in most beauty products is minimal. It would require ingestion of an abnormally huge amount of gluten-containing grains to cause an adverse reaction to those with gluten sensitivity.

Gluten reactions occur when gluten is ingested and the digestive tract is exposed to it. [It] is a protein too large to be absorbed through the skin.

Do tocopherols contain gluten?

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.

Is tocopherol safe for celiacs?

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.

Important Reminder

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.

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

4 thoughts on “Is Vitamin E Gluten Free?”

    1. Add Your Picture

      I have the same question as Kiah on this. @Jay Harper – are your products also soy free as well as gluten free?

    2. Ashley Teague

      Hi Kiah, yes. All of our products are soy free and free from soy-derived ingredients with the only exception being our lip liners/pencils. Those do have NON-GMO soy in them.

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