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Xanthophyll and hydrocarbon carotenoid patterns differ in plasma and breast milk of women supplemented with red palm oil during pregnancy and lactation

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Georg Lietz


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Currently limited information exists on how maternal supplementation with provitamin A carotenoids might influence the carotenoid pattern in breast milk during lactation. This study was designed to investigate the effect of maternal red palm oil supplementation (;12 g/d) throughout the 3rd trimester of pregnancy and the first 3mopostpartum on carotenoid pattern in both plasma and breast milk. Plasma and breast milk α- and β-carotene concentrations increased in response to red palm oil supplementation and were different (P < 0.001) from the control group at both 1 and 3 mo postpartum. Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin concentrations were reduced (P < 0.001) from pregnancy to 1 mo postpartum and remained stable until 3mopostpartum. However, breast milk lutein concentrations, expressed per gram of milk fat, increased (P < 0.05) in both groups from 1 to 3 mo postpartum. The results of this study show that there are proportionally more hydrocarbon carotenoids such as α- and β-carotene in plasma than in breast milk, whereas xanthophylls, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, are proportionally more prevalent in breast milk. More importantly, red palm oil supplementation increases the milk concentrations of provitamin A carotenes without decreasing the milk concentrations of xanthophylls. In summary, this study demonstrates that a regulated uptake of polar carotenoids into breast milk exists and that supplementation with α- and β-carotene does not negatively affect this transfer. The mechanisms behind this transport are not fully understood and merit further study. © 2006 American Society for Nutrition.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Lietz G, Mulokozi G, Henry JCK, Tomkins AM

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Nutrition

Year: 2006

Volume: 136

Issue: 7

Pages: 1821-1827

Print publication date: 01/07/2006

ISSN (print): 0022-3166

ISSN (electronic): 1541-6100

Publisher: American Society for Nutrition


PubMed id: 16772443