TOCOBIOL® Blends, the best alternative to Mixed Tocopherols


Along with the action of microorganisms, the oxidation of fats is one of the main causes of food deterioration, resulting in alterations in the aroma or flavor (rancidity), in color, in the loss of nutrients and in the formation of potentially harmful substances, ultimately causing a reduction in the shelf life of products.

Among other things, fats contribute flavor and texture to food, but due to their high susceptibility to oxidation, it is necessary to incorporate additives such as antioxidants to the formulation for conservation, although mixed tocopherols are another alternative.

Antioxidants to prevent oxidation

Lipid oxidation is a radical reaction that propagates in a chain, which can be subdivided into three phases: initiation (with the formation of free radicals), propagation and, finally, termination, with the formation of secondary products.

Antioxidants have become an indispensable group of food additives, especially for their unique properties in increasing the shelf life of food products without damaging their sensory or nutritional qualities.

The growing concern about the safety and health problems associated with synthetic antioxidants has led to a large body of research on different natural sources of antioxidant products. Natural antioxidants allow food manufacturers to make shelf-stable products with “clean” labels from all-natural ingredients and provide a greater guarantee of safety than synthetic products.

Depending on their mechanism of action, we can find two types of antioxidants; primary and secondary. Primary antioxidants are those that break the oxidation chain reaction by “donating” hydrogen and generating more stable radicals. On the other hand, secondary antioxidants are those that retard oxidation through other mechanisms, such as metal chelation, regeneration of primary antioxidants, hydroperoxide decomposition, and oxygen scavenging, among others.

Oxidation protection with mixed tocopherols

Tocopherols and tocotrienols are monophenolic and lipophilic compounds that are present in a wide variety of plant tissues. Currently, the main commercial sources of natural tocopherols are soybean and sunflower oil. Tocotrienols, less common than tocopherols, are present in palm oil, rice bran oil, as well as in some cereals and legumes.

Both tocopherols and tocotrienols are primary antioxidants that are classified as alpha, beta, gamma, and delta based on their chemical structures. These eight molecules are part of the group known as vitamin E.

On the other hand, secondary antioxidants such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, lecithin or flavonoids can also be added to protect products from oxidation. These have a synergistic effect together with tocopherols, and act as regenerators of the primary antioxidant once it has been used to stop the chain reaction.

Taking this into account, it is possible to use lower doses of tocopherols when they are combined with other complementary antioxidants, due to the synergistic effect.

Effectiveness of synergistic blend of tocopherols

For proof of concept, below we can see the result of an accelerated oxidation experiment using the Rancimat method, a simple, fast and effective technique to measure and compare the effectiveness of antioxidants used in fats and oils. The method is an accelerated oxidation test in which an oil or fat is exposed to elevated temperatures while air is circulated over the sample. To learn more about this methodology, we recommend that you watch the following video:

Sunflower oil, one of the main oils used in the food industry, was dosed with different antioxidants based on tocopherols and other synergistic antioxidants. As can be seen in the graph, the oxidative stability of sunflower oil increases in a similar way when using tocopherols at 70% or 90% concentration, then when adding a synergistic blend of tocopherols at 20% with green tea extract or rosemary extract. This greater effectiveness in stabilizing the oil is due to the presence of other active ingredients with secondary antioxidant properties.


In the same way, the following graph shows the synergistic effect of two synergistic blends of tocopherols, ascorbyl palmitate and lecithin in a saturated fat, such as lard, managing to stabilize the sample in the same way as the standard mixed tocopherols (70% & 90%).


As seen in the previous examples, in different types of oils and fats, we can achieve a similar level of protection against oxidation by using high concentrations of tocopherols (70% or 90%) than by using synergistic blends of tocopherols with other antioxidants and active ingredients such as green tea extract, rosemary extract, ascorbyl palmitate or lecithin.

In a market that has constant upward price pressure for mixed tocopherols, this alternative is particularly attractive for manufacturers of foods and other products susceptible to oxidation, such as cosmetic and personal care products since the cost of synergistic blends is typically between 40% and 60% less expensive than traditional tocopherols.

In addition, another benefit of synergistic blends is that different ingredients can be combined to create personalized antioxidants for each type of application, finding the optimum balance point between effectiveness and cost.

If you want to know more about TOCOBIOL® Blends, BTSA‘s range of synergistic antioxidants, download our brochure and one of our experts will contact you to find the best antioxidant for your product.