The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

Lutein Typically Vegan But May Be a Powder Microencapsulated in Gelatin

Posted on September 04, 2014 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

A long-time Vegetarian Resource Group reader asked us whether dietary supplements lutein and zeaxanthin were derived from all-vegetable sources. After careful review of the products offered by major manufacturers in 2014 The VRG reports that these compounds themselves are most often commercially produced from vegetable sources especially marigolds.

During our research we discovered a reply letter sent by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Cognis Corporation: http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/GRAS/NoticeInventory/ucm153920.htm

In the fifth paragraph of the letter The FDA writes

Cognis prepares two commercial products from the concentrated form of its lutein ester product. One commercial product is a microencapsulated powder that is prepared by forming an emulsion, which is then dispersed with porcine gelatin under high speeds. The resulting paste is atomized at low temperatures to form beadlets that are dried. This powder is a six-fold dilution of the concentrate and, thus, contains a minimum of 10 percent lutein esters.

Cognis’ lutein product line was later purchased by BASF Corporation. The VRG contacted BASF to determine if lutein powder microencapsulated in gelatin was a current product offered by BASF. We received this reply from a BASF employee:

We do offer several forms of lutein esters which is a part of our Xangold line. This product line was acquired by BASF several years ago from Cognis. We offer three powder forms and five oil forms. Our oil products are concentrated oils that can be in either soybean, olive or MCT oil. Our powder forms…also are offered in several concentrated powder forms. Two of these powder forms are with gelatin and one is gelatin-free. Again, as I mentioned, these products are ingredients that would be sold to manufactures that would incorporate them into a consumer product. To understand if gelatin is in the product, you would need to contact the manufacturer for the full ingredient listing.

We later received confirmation from BASF that their medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is “of vegetable source.”

FenChem Biotek Ltd. is another company that also told The VRG that they sell lutein microencapsulated in gelatin.

Lutein

Alternate names: luteine, vegetable lutein, vegetable luteol, E161b
Commercial source: marigold, paprika (may be sold as a powder microencapsulated in gelatin)
Found in: green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, egg yolk
Used in: dietary supplements, infant formula, beverages
Used as: nutritional supplement, colorant

Definition: A xanthophyll (oxycarotenoid) believed important for eye health, lutein cannot be synthesized by the human body but must be consumed in foods. Unlike another carotenoid beta-carotene, lutein does not exhibit pro-vitamin A activity.

Manufacturers:

Kemin told us that their lutein product is “free of animal ingredients as well as animal-derived processing aids.” It is also “free of bovine gelatin and has been for several years now” (http://www.dsm.com/markets/foodandbeverages/en_US/products/carotenoids/flora-glo-lutein.html).

Omniactives told us that their product “contains no animal products.” They do not offer a gelatin encapsulated form.

BASF told us that they do manufacture “two…powder forms with gelatin and one is gelatin-free.”

Fenchem Biotek Ltd. told us that they “can supply lutein available as microencapsulated powders in gelatin.”

Classification: Typically Vegan

Entry added: August 2014

Zeaxanthin

Alternate names: zeaxanthol, E161h
Commercial source: marigold, paprika
Found in: green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange fruits and vegetables, egg yolk, spirulina
Used in: dietary supplements, beverages
Used as: dietary supplement, colorant

Definition: An oxycarotenoid (xanthophyll) believed important for eye health, zeaxanthin is typically found along with lutein in food sources as it is in the eye. Unlike another carotenoid beta-carotene, zeaxanthin does not exhibit pro-vitamin A activity.

Manufacturers:

Kalsec told us that “our zeaxanthin is free from any and all animal or animal derived products.” We also learned that they “do have a manufacturing partner who does microencapsulation…It is not gelatin however but a non-gmo starch matrix that dissolves after consumption in order to enter the bloodstream.”

Kemin told us that their zeaxanthin product is “free of animal ingredients as well as animal-derived processing aids.” It is also “free of bovine gelatin and has been for several years now.”

Omniactives told us that their product “contains no animal products.” They do not offer a gelatin encapsulated form.

Classification: Typically Vegan
Entry added: August 2014

For information on other ingredients, see
http://www.vrg.org/ingredients/index.php

To support Vegetarian Resource Group research, donate at www.vrg.org/donate
Join at http://www.vrg.org/member/2013sv.php

The contents of this website and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

1 to “Lutein Typically Vegan But May Be a Powder Microencapsulated in Gelatin”

  1. MJ says:

    Thank you for doing this research by contacting these companies. This is a very important, and unique role, that VRG plays. For sure, I will be renewing when my membership comes up. I see you have something new about a taco chain, too. Great work!



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