Impact of Maternal Vitamin E Supplementation on α-Tocopherol Levels in Colostrum

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Association Between Maternal Supplementation of Vitamin E and Concentration of α-Tocopherol in Colostrum

Oxidative stress, caused by postnatal transition from intrauterine to extrauterine environment, increases the risk of vitamin E (α-tocopherol) deficiency in newborns. This has led to the recommendation of an α-tocopherol (nutritionally available vitamin E isomer) intake of 4 mg/day in newborns during the first six months of life. This study published in the Jornal de Pediatria investigated the impact of maternal vitamin E supplementation on α-tocopherol levels in the colostrum and the latter’s supply to the newborns.

In this clinical trial, 99 healthy pregnant women were assigned to either the control group (CG; n=39) or the supplemented group (SG; n=60). Colostrum milk (2 mL) and blood (5 mL) samples were collected from each participant after an overnight fasting period. Collection was at two stages: first sampling at the initial contact with the mother (0 hour) and second sampling at 24 hours post-first sampling. Women in SG were given α-tocopherol (400 IU) after first sampling. High performance liquid chromatography was used for sample analyses. The level of α-tocopherol in the colostrum was calculated based on the daily intake of 396 mL of milk and compared to the recommended daily intake (4 mg/day) in infants aged 0–6 months.

No difference in α-tocopherol levels was noted between the two groups at 0 hour. However, mean α-tocopherol levels were found to be higher in SG (2,346.9±1,203.2 g/dL) compared to CG (1,650.6±968.7 g/dL) after 24 hours. A 61% increase in colostrum α-tocopherol levels was noted between 0 hour and 24 hours in SG. Mean α-tocopherol supply increased by 3.6 mg/day per 396 mL colostrum in SG after 24 hours supplementation. Only six (10%) women in SG had colostrum α-tocopherol level below the recommended levels compared to 11 (28%) women in CG.

The study concluded that vitamin E supply to newborns increased more than twice the recommended levels with maternal vitamin E supplementation.

News Source: Melo L, Clemente H, Bezerra D, et al. Effect of maternal supplementation with vitamin E on the concentration of α-tocopherol in colostrum. J Pediatr. 2016. doi: 10.1016/j.jped.2016.03.007.