• Does Diet Affect Breast Milk? - Chromatography Explores

Does Diet Affect Breast Milk? - Chromatography Explores

Feb 03 2019 Read 605 Times

Most health professionals recommend breastfeeding for new born babies. The health benefits to both the baby and the mother are well known. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of infections in new born babies, and also helps to prevent diarrhoea and vomiting. Research suggests that the benefits continue into later life with a reduced risk of getting childhood leukaemia and becoming obese.

For the breastfeeding mother, the benefits are equally important - with the more breastfeeding the mother does, the greater the benefits. Research suggests that breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and also reduces the incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease. But are the nutritional levels of breastmilk affected by what a mother eats?

Getting your A and E during breastfeeding

During breastfeeding, the mother has higher nutritional requirements - even greater than during pregnancy. This is due to the need to replace the nutrients that are in the breast milk. A recent study has looked at two key nutrients and their role in breastfeeding - vitamins A and E. Vitamin A affects vision, cell communication, differentiation and growth. While vitamin E has a role as a free radical scavenger and is important for our immune systems and helps with inflammation control and cognitive performance.

Both vitamin A and vitamin E deficiencies are considered nutritional problems in various parts of the world. Vitamin A deficiency has been found in breastfeeding mothers at various stages of breastfeeding - whilst vitamin E deficiency has also been reported in breastfeeding mothers in areas of the world. Breast milk should contain plenty of vitamin A and E, new-borns have low quantities of these nutrients in their bodies at birth and need a regular supply from mum or a substitute.

Mind the vitamin A

 A recent study in Brazil has found that lactating mothers are at risk of vitamin A and E deficiency. It was found that some mothers who were vitamin A deficient, produced milk with lower vitamin A levels.  However, it was found that despite the reductions in maternal levels of vitamin E indicators in serum, there was little reduction in vitamin E in the milk from breastfeeding mothers.

Chromatography is the method used for analysing vitamin levels in serum, with HPLC being the main method used and discussed in the article, Using Different HPLC Column Chemistries To Maximise Selectivity For Method Development. The study authors recommend that the promotion of foods containing vitamin A should be promoted to ensure lactating mothers and their new-born have sufficient levels of vitamin A available to them.

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