Multinational study of major breast milk carotenoids of healthy mothers.Eur J Nutr. 2003 Jun; 42(3):133-41.EJ
Carotenoids in serum vary between countries and within populations with evidence suggesting a qualitative relationship to diet. Breast milk carotenoids furnish a source of vitamin A and potentially provide immunoprotection and other health benefits for infants. There have been numerous studies of milk carotenoid concentrations in undernourished populations; however, carotenoid concentrations have not previously been compared in populations of well-nourished mothers.
AIM OF STUDY
To compare concentrations of five major carotenoid groups: alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, and lycopene in breast milk of healthy women from Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and to qualitatively compare patterns of dietary intake with milk carotenoid concentrations.
Breast milk collected from healthy lactating women was analyzed for concentrations of five carotenoids and retinol and quantitated relative to total milk lipid. All determinations were performed in a single research laboratory using standardized methodology. Mothers consumed their usual diets and provided a single 24-h dietary recall.
Breast milk carotenoid concentrations varied greatly among countries, with the greatest differences in beta-cryptoxanthin (approximately 9-fold) and the least in alpha-carotene and lycopene (approximately 3-fold). Breast milk retinol concentrations varied approximately 2-fold across countries. The provitamin A carotenoids alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin as a group accounted for > 50 % of the carotenoids measured. Total breast milk carotenoids were highest in Japanese and lowest in Philippine mothers. Breast milk beta-carotene concentrations were highest in Chile and lowest in the Philippines.
Patterns of breast milk carotenoids were unique to each country and qualitative patterns reflected the dietary carotenoid supply.