Vitamin A palmitate is a vitamin additive that is added to milk to help increase the amount of vitamins that are removed from milk. It is generally only added to fat free and reduced fat milk which has had vitamins removed during the fat removing process.
Vitamin A palmitate is added by food companies to make fat free and low fat milk more nutritious than they would be without the addition of vitamins that were removed. It is present in these types of milk to make them more closely resemble whole milk. It is a somewhat controversial additive of milk that has raised concerns about higher instances of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Palmitate is made up of the same fatty acids that are present in palm oil. Palmitic acid is a 16 carbon fatty acid, and it is used as a carrier for the vitamin A that is placed into the milk to make it more nutritious. The form of vitamin A that is added to the milk is called retinol, which is also present in cosmetic applications. When the palmitic acid and the retinol are formed together and placed in milk, they are more stable than when vitamin A would simply be put into milk on its own.