Nutritional Studies of Foodstuffs Used in the Puerto Rican Dietary

IV. Extract of the Annatto Seed, Biax Orellana: Its Preparation and Physiological Properties

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  • Department of Chemistry of the School of Tropical Medicine of the University of Puerto Rico under the auspices of Columbia University


An examination of the coloring matter from the seeds of the plant Bixa orellana has been made and the following facts determined:

  1. 1.Hot and cold alcoholic extraction of the coloring matter removes material that can function in the animal body as vitamin A. Cold alcoholic extracts are more potent than hot, because of the decreased solubility of inert material.
  2. 2.The crystalline compound bixin was isolated and tested for vitamin activity and found negative, confirming reported work.
  3. 3.Extraction of the seeds direct with petroleum ether produces the most active material of all, an oil with a potency of 1000 or more units per gram. This material responds to most of the tests for the presence of carotinoid pigments.
  4. 4.The home method of extracting the seeds by frying in lard is effective in removing the vitamin A activity. The high potency of this extract makes it appear possible that it may have some significance in human nutrition here.
  5. 5.The petroleum ether extract of the annatto seed shows the presence of vitamin D. This is probably formed by the action of sunlight on the oily seed coating during drying. Quantitative measurements have not yet been made.