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J Nutr. 2014 Aug;144(8):1256-63. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.192914. Epub 2014 Jun 4.

Lutein supplementation increases breast milk and plasma lutein concentrations in lactating women and infant plasma concentrations but does not affect other carotenoids.

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Scientific and Medical Affairs, Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, OH
Scientific and Medical Affairs, Abbott Nutrition, Columbus, OH.


Lutein is a carotenoid that varies in breast milk depending on maternal intake. Data are lacking with regard to the effect of dietary lutein supplementation on breast milk lutein concentration during lactation and subsequent plasma lutein concentration in breast-fed infants. This study was conducted to determine the impact of lutein supplementation in the breast milk and plasma of lactating women and in the plasma of breast-fed infants 2-3 mo postpartum. Lutein is the dominant carotenoid in the infant brain and the major carotenoid found in the retina of the eye. Eighty-nine lactating women 4-6 wk postpartum were randomly assigned to be administered either 0 mg/d of lutein (placebo), 6 mg/d of lutein (low-dose), or 12 mg/d of lutein (high-dose). The supplements were consumed for 6 wk while mothers followed their usual diets. Breast milk carotenoids were measured weekly by HPLC, and maternal plasma carotenoid concentrations were measured at the beginning and end of the study. Infant plasma carotenoid concentrations were assessed at the end of the study. No significant differences were found between dietary lutein + zeaxanthin intake and carotenoid concentrations in breast milk and plasma or body mass index at baseline. Total lutein + zeaxanthin concentrations were greater in the low- and high-dose-supplemented groups than in the placebo group in breast milk (140% and 250%, respectively; P < 0.0001), maternal plasma (170% and 250%, respectively; P < 0.0001), and infant plasma (180% and 330%, respectively; P < 0.05). Lutein supplementation did not affect other carotenoids in lactating women or their infants. Lactating women are highly responsive to lutein supplementation, which affects plasma lutein concentrations in the infant. This trial was registered at as NCT01747668.

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