Crude or unrefined palm oil contains 60 to 100 mg vitamin E per 100 gram. An average of 50 to 65% of the vitamin E content remains after refining, which is still higher than in other refined vegetable oils.
70% of the vitamin E in palm oil occurs as tocotrienols. In contrast, other vegetable oils such as corn, olive, soybean, and sunflower, are good sources of tocopherols but contain no tocotrienols.
Current research suggests unique biological properties of tocotrienols and warrants further investigation.
Carotenoids are natural pigments responsible for the red-orange colour of crude palm oil. 100 Gram of crude palm oil contains 50 to 70 mg carotenoids. These are mainly beta carotene (56%) and alpha carotene (35%) and are the same compounds that give the orange colour to carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Carotenoids act as precursors of vitamin A, which plays an important role in good vision, a healthy immune system and cell growth. The pro vitamin A (retinol) equivalent content of crude palm oil has been estimated at 15 times that of carrots.
Standard oil refining removes all carotenoids, but about 80% of these valuable components are retained in a product called ‘red palm oil’, resulting from a modified refining procedure. Red palm oil is used for the treatment and prevention of vitamin A deficiency in many countries worldwide.