Trace element determination in vitamin E using ICP-MS

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2002 Sep;374(2):230-4. doi: 10.1007/s00216-002-1480-y. Epub 2002 Aug 28.


Vitamin E supplements are either isolated from plants sources or prepared synthetically. Isolation from plants includes eight different tocopherol structures. Vitamin E synthesis includes seven different stereoisomers, which involves the use of several catalysts that may lead to trace element contamination in the vitamin. The use of ICP-MS is an ideal technique for detecting these trace elements. However, the oily nature of the samples requires the development of a sample preparation methodology. This study was done upon the request of synthetic vitamin E manufacturers to test the trace metal purity of their samples. In this work, the comparison of an acid microwave digestion and emulsion preparation is discussed. Cromium, nickel, tin and lead were found in the synthetic vitamin E analyzed and 200, 60, 9 and 45 ppb were the concentrations found respectively for these elements. Digesting the samples gives slightly lower detection limits compared to the emulsion preparation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Emulsions
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Trace Elements / analysis*
  • Vitamin E / analysis*


  • Emulsions
  • Trace Elements
  • Vitamin E