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Am J Clin Nutr. 2018 Sep 1;108(3):525-531. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/nqy104.

Vitamin B-12 content in breast milk of vegan, vegetarian, and nonvegetarian lactating women in the United States.

Author information

1
Departments of Nutrition Science.
2
Biostatistics, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
3
USDA/Agricultural Research Service, Western Human Nutrition Research Center, Davis, CA.
4
Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA.
5
Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina Greensboro, Greensboro, NC.

Abstract

Background:

The nutritional profile of human milk varies significantly between women, and the impact of maternal diet on these variations is not well understood.

Objective:

We analyzed breast-milk vitamin B-12 concentration and vitamin B-12 supplement use pattern among women who adhered to different dietary patterns: vegan, vegetarian, and nonvegetarian.

Design:

A total of 74 milk samples, 29 from vegan, 19 from vegetarian, and 26 from nonvegetarian breastfeeding mothers, were analyzed.

Results:

The prevalences of low vitamin B-12 (<310 pmol/L) were 19.2% for vegans, 18.2% for vegetarians, and 15.4% for nonvegetarians, which was not significant by diet group (P = 1.00). The median (quartile 1, quartile 3) vitamin B-12 values were 558 pmol/L (331, 759 pmol/L) for vegans, 509 pmol/L (368, 765 pmol/L) for vegetarians, and 444 pmol/L (355, 777 pmol/L) for nonvegetarians (P = 0.890). The use of individual vitamin B-12 supplements was higher in vegans (46.2%) than in vegetarians (27.3%) and nonvegetarians (3.9%) (P = 0.001). In linear regression analysis, the use of individual vitamin B-12 supplements was a significant positive predictor of milk vitamin B-12 concentration (β ± SE: 172.9 ± 75.2; standardized β = 0.263; P = 0.024; R2 = 0.069), the use of a multivitamin had a significant negative relation with milk vitamin B-12 concentrations (β ± SE -222.0 ± 98.7; standardized β = -0.258; P = 0.028, R2 = 0.067;), whereas the use of a B-complex vitamin and prenatal vitamin were not predictive of vitamin B-12 milk concentration (P > 0.05).

Conclusions:

Almost 20% of our study participants were classified as having low breast-milk vitamin B-12 concentrations (<310 pmol/L), independent of maternal diet pattern. Approximately 85% of participants categorized as having low vitamin B-12 were taking vitamin B-12 supplements at doses in excess of the Recommended Dietary Allowance, which suggests that more research is needed to determine breast-milk adequacy values.

PMID:
29931273
DOI:
10.1093/ajcn/nqy104

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