Vitamin E in Human Milk from Mothers of Preterm and Term Infants

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SummaryThe content of vitamin E (α-and β + γ-to-copherol) was analyzed in 63 human milk samples obtained from 13 mothers of preterm infants (“preterm” milk) and in 59 milk samples obtained from nine mothers of full-term infants (“term” milk). The changing pattern of the α-and (β + γ-tocopherol content during the course of lactation was identical for both groups. Total vitamin E, α-as well as (β + γ-tocopherol, decreased during the first 2 weeks of lactation and remained constant thereafter. The ratio of α-to β + γ-tocopherol decreased from about 10:1 to 4:1. At days 3 and 36 of lactation, vitamin E contents (median values and ranges) expressed as milligrams α-tocopherol equivalent per 100 ml were 1.45 (0.64–6.4) and 0.29 (O.I7–0.48). respectively, for preterm and 1.14 (0.63–4.21) and 0.28 (0.19–0.86). respectively, for term human milk. The vitamin E. α-tocopherol and (β + γ-tocopherol content of preterm human milk did not differ significantly (p ≤ 0.05) from that of term human milk at each sampling day. Based on these findings we conclude that the increased requirement of prematures for vitamin E is not reflected in the vitamin E content of milk from mothers delivering preterm infants.

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