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Nutritional vitamin A status in northeast Brazilian lactating mothers

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Abstract Background: 

Vitamin A deficiency is the major cause of morbidity and mortality among children and in women of reproductive age in developing countries. The present study aimed to assess maternal nutritional vitamin A status, as well as analyse the association of preformed vitamin A and pro-vitamin A consumption on the nutritional status of nursing mothers, based on serum retinol and retinol colostrum concentrations coupled with dietary intake. Methods: 

Serum and colostrums were collected from 86 healthy parturients, recruited within 16 h postpartum. Blood samples were obtained, the morning after an overnight fast. Retinol was analysed by high-performance liquid chromatography. Dietary vitamin A was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire and the women were separated into two groups according to the predominant dietary source of vitamin A: group A, >50% preformed vitamin A (n = 37); and group B >50% pro-vitamin A carotenoids, (n = 49). Results: 

Serum retinol and total vitamin A ingestion (mean ± SD) were higher in group A than in group B (1.4 ± 0.4 μmol L−1 and 2072.0 ± 1465.9 μg retinol activity equivalent (RAE) day−1 versus 1.2 ± 0.6 μmol L−1 and 1051.6 ± 920.4 μg RAE day−1, respectively (P < 0.05), but colostrum retinol (3.4 ± 1.7 μmol L−1 and 3.6 ± 1.9 μmol L−1) was similar in both groups. In group B, 36.7% (n = 18) of the nursing mothers presented a risk of developing vitamin A deficiency, based on their dietary intake. Conclusions: 

On the basis of the intake of the pro-vitamin A carotenoids, some women may be at risk of vitamin A deficiency. However, their status is currently normal, as indicated by serum and milk retinol concentrations.

Keywords: colostrum; diet; lactating mothers; vitamin A

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2010

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