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Looking at E vitamin products sold commercially, all “pure vitamin E oil” products seem to be for skincare rather than consumption as a supplement.

I have read that d-alpha tocopherol is the form of vitamin E with greatest bioavailability, but even liquid supplement products often contain sunflower or other oils in addition, which I understand to be a source of but of course are not entirely vitamin E.

Is a pure liquid supplement possible or practical for consumption as a supplement, and if not, why?

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  • $\begingroup$ To be honest, I am on the edge whether this is on topic for our site. It appears like medicinal advice that you are seeking; such questions are off-topic. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Nov 28 '19 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Martin-マーチン I will review whether I can edit. I am not looking for advice but an understanding of the chemical practicalities and realities of these bioactive substances vis-a-vis how they are presented on the commercial market. $\endgroup$ – Sam_Butler Nov 28 '19 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ I have reworded the question so it hopefully reads better as seeking chemical understanding. $\endgroup$ – Sam_Butler Nov 28 '19 at 20:22
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As a practical matter, vitamins generally can't be provided to consumers in their pure forms. The problem is that we need so little of them. For instance, the RDA for d-alpha tocopherol is 15 mg. Consumers simply don't have the training or equipment necessary to precisely measure out 15 mg (or the time or patience to do this daily!). Most likely they would overdose if they tried.

Thus the vitamin E has to be diluted with a much larger quantity of edible material into which it can dissolve (such as a vegetable oil), to make the size of a single dose large enough for a consumer to be able to measure out. For instance, if we were to dilute the vitamin E 100-fold with vegetable oil, then 1 RDA would be 1.5 g (instead of 15 mg), which works out to about 1/3 tsp. That's a dosage consumers can handle. Of course, the typical approach is not to offer it as a liquid, but rather conveniently encapsulated.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a good commentary on the practicalities. In terms of chemistry, do you agree with Maurice's answer? It almost seems the two should be merged as they both tell half the story. $\endgroup$ – Sam_Butler Nov 28 '19 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ (1) Maurice's answer is plausible. (2) Except in specific instances, answers on this site aren't merged, since they each stay attached to the person that created them; that's related to how the the points system works. $\endgroup$ – theorist Nov 29 '19 at 16:19
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Vitamin E is not soluble in water. It is only soluble in oils. So it is no use swallowing pure Vitamin E, or this vitamin with water. It will poorly be absorbed by the intestine. You must absorb it in an oily solution.

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    $\begingroup$ This is good information on the chemistry; do you agree with theorist's answer about the practicalities? $\endgroup$ – Sam_Butler Nov 28 '19 at 20:24

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