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Vitamin Concentrations in Human Milk Vary with Time within Feed, Circadian Rhythm, and Single-Dose Supplementation


Background: Human milk is the subject of many studies, but procedures for representative sample collection have not been established. Our improved methods for milk micronutrient analysis now enable systematic study of factors that affect its concentrations.Objective: We evaluated the effects of sample collection protocols, variations in circadian rhythms, subject variability, and acute maternal micronutrient supplementation on milk vitamin concentrations.Methods: In the BMQ (Breast-Milk-Quality) study, we recruited 18 healthy women (aged 18-26 y) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, at 2-4 mo of lactation for a 3-d supplementation study. On day 1, no supplements were given; on days 2 and 3, participants consumed ∼1 time and 2 times, respectively, the US-Canadian Recommended Dietary Allowances for vitamins at breakfast (0800-0859). Milk was collected during every feeding from the same breast over 24 h. Milk expressed in the first 2 min (aliquot I) was collected separately from the remainder (aliquot II); a third aliquot (aliquot III) was saved by combining aliquots I and II. Thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamins B-6, B-12, A, and E and fat were measured in each sample.Results: Significant but small differences (14-18%) between aliquots were found for all vitamins except for vitamins B-6 and B-12. Circadian variance was significant except for fat-adjusted vitamins A and E, with a higher contribution to total variance with supplementation. Between-subject variability accounted for most of the total variance. Afternoon and evening samples best reflected daily vitamin concentrations for all study days. Acute supplementation effects were found for thiamin, riboflavin, and vitamins B-6 and A at 2-4 h postdosing, with 0.1-6.17% passing into milk. Supplementation was reflected in fasting, 24-h postdose samples for riboflavin and vitamin B-6. Maximum amounts of dose-responding vitamins in 1 feeding ranged from 4.7% to 21.8% (day 2) and 8.2% to 35.0% (day 3) of Adequate Intake.Conclusions: In the milk of Bangladeshi mothers, differences in vitamin concentrations between aliquots within feedings and by circadian variance were significant but small. Afternoon and evening collection provided the most-representative samples. Supplementation acutely affects some breast-milk micronutrient concentrations. This trial was registered at as NCT02756026.

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