Identification and estimation of tocotrienols in the annatto lipid fraction by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry


The lipid fraction of annatto (Bixa orellana L.) seeds was extracted with a Soxhlet apparatus with n-hexane and isolated by thin-layer chromatography. The fatty-soluble antioxidant fraction contained only tocotrienols, mainly δ-tocotrienol, but no tocopherols. The presence of tocotrienols was confirmed by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. The quantities of δ-tocotrienol were 140–147 mg/100 g dry seeds and 5.2–5.5% wt/wt of lipid extract, determined by gas chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatography, respectively. Currently no vegetable species seems to contain comparable concentrations of δ-tocotrienol.

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Correspondence to N. Frega.

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Frega, N., Mozzon, M. & Bocci, F. Identification and estimation of tocotrienols in the annatto lipid fraction by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. J Amer Oil Chem Soc 75, 1723–1727 (1998).

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Key words

  • Annatto
  • chemical ionization
  • mass spectrometry
  • tocotrienols