Antares steps in to fill vitamin E gap

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vitamin e

US firm Antares Health Products (AHP) has started commercial production of a soluble form of vitamin E, which it said will help plug a gap in the market left by the exit of major supplier Eastman Chemical Company.

AHP said its production of vitamin E TPGS (d-alpha-tocopherol polyethylene glycol 1000 succinate) is targeting the food, dietary supplements and pharmaceutical markets.

The new production capacity aims to boost supply of the ingredient in a market that has “dropped to critical levels in recent months,”​ said the firm, which hopes to pick up customers left behind by Eastman.

NutraIngredients-USA.com contacted the company for more information, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

In April this year, Eastman announced it would close its manufacturing site in Anglesey, Wales and was ceasing production of vitamin E TPGS manufactured there. The reason it gave was that the site no longer fits with its corporate strategy.

Although Eastman said it planned to provide a transitional supply to its existing customers, based on historical orders, AHP is stepping in to pick up surplus orders.

The firm’s CEO John Palmer said he wanted to “assure” ​Eastman customers that Anteres’ TPGS is high-quality.

“Both of our pharmaceutical and food grade TPGS products are produced in the United States and meet or exceed all applicable quality standards. Our confidence is based on the quality of our team, which combines exceptional manufacturing, technical, marketing and compliance expertise, directly applicable to this product,”​ he said last week.

Vitamin E forms

Studies have linked vitamin E to a host of health benefits, such as improving the function of the liver and thereby strengthening the body's defense system, as well as helping to protect against Alzheimer's disease. It is also thought to have an anti-cancer effect.

There are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta).

Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.

D-Alpha-tocopherol is the major constituent of the naturally-sourced vitamin E that is more bioavailable than synthetic versions and therefore favored by large segments of the European supplements industry.

An upper safe level of 300mg was established in 2003 for vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol) by Europe’s Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) while the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has recommended daily consumption levels up to 2mg per kilogram of a person's body weight.

Other applications

As well as its uses in food and supplements applications, vitamin E also has a major market in the pharmaceuticals field, where it is used to solubilize drugs and enhance bioavailability.

The cosmetics industry has also looked to tap these properties, for use in topical skin care products.

Markets

The vitamin E category suffered a big hit in 2005 following a widely publicized meta-analysis at the tail end of 2004 that linked vitamin E with an increased risk of all-cause mortality (Annals of Internal Medicine 2005 Jan 4;142(1):37-46).

The study stated that daily vitamin E doses of 400 international units (IU) or more can increase the risk of death and should be avoided.

The conflicting evidence has left consumers unsure of the benefits and wary of the harm. The day after the report came out, 20 percent of US consumers taking vitamin E supplements stopped taking them. Sales of the vitamin fell some $102m. Indeed, Cognis Nutrition and Health, one of the leading suppliers of vitamin E in the US reported a decrease in demand for its natural vitamin E products of 40 per cent, which led to a drop in revenues of 18 per cent in 2005.

However, the situation has since improved, with the market now recovered to the point where major vitamin E suppliers, such as Cognis and DSM, feel it can absorb recently implemented price increases.

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