Influence of climate on the tocopherol content of shea butter

J Agric Food Chem. 2004 May 19;52(10):2934-7. doi: 10.1021/jf035194r.


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).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Climate*
  • Magnoliopsida / chemistry*
  • Seeds / chemistry*
  • Temperature
  • Tocopherols / analysis*


  • Tocopherols