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Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 May;53(5):1197-204.

Vitamin E, lipid fractions, and fatty acid composition of colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk: an international comparative study.

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  • 1Perinatal Care and Prevention of Handicaps in the Caribbean project, NASKHO, Willemstad, CuraƧao, Netherlands Antilles.


Triglycerides, cholesterol, fatty acid composition, and tocopherols were determined in colostrum, transitional milk, and mature milk in St Lucia. With progress of lactation, triglycerides and percentage medium-chain fatty acids increased whereas tocopherols, cholesterol, and percentage long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids decreased. These changes reflect augmented de novo synthesis of fatty acids (8:0, 10:0, 12:0, and 14:0) in the mammary gland and a tendency of increasing fat-globule size as milk matures. Transitional and mature milks, but particularly colostrum, contained higher concentrations of components considered to be derived from the fat-globule membrane (cholesterol, tocopherols, percentage long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids) compared with those reported for Western countries. Percentage medium-chain fatty acids in mature milk was two to three times higher than in developed countries. Differences from data from studies in Western countries are discussed in relation to analytical methods and possible consequences for lipid digestion, lipid absorption, growth, and brain development.

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