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J Agric Food Chem. 2004 May 19;52(10):2934-7.

Influence of climate on the tocopherol content of shea butter.

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The Phyto-Oleochemical Laboratory, The Institutes for Applied Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P.O. Box 653, Beer-Sheva, Israel.


The shea tree, Vitellaria paradoxa Gaertner, is the source of a commercial seed fat known as shea butter. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of the tocopherol content of shea butters from different regions of Africa showed high variability between provenances and a significant effect of climate on alpha-tocopherol levels. The total tocopherol content (alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) in 102 shea butter samples from 11 countries ranged from 29 to 805 microg/g of shea butter, with a mean of 220 microg/g. alpha-Tocopherol, the principal form detected, averaged 64% of the total tocopherol content. Shea butters from Vitellaria populations situated in hot, dry climates had the highest levels of alpha-tocopherol (for example, a mean of 414 microg/g in samples from N'Djamena, Chad). The lowest concentrations of alpha-tocopherol were found in samples from cool highland areas, especially in northern Uganda (a mean of 29 microg/g).

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