Study Reveals Potential Health Benefits of Breast Milk from Vegan Diet Mothers

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    A vegan diet has no effect on the amounts of carnitine and vitamin B2 in breast milk, both of which are essential for the growth of a newborn. These are the findings of an Amsterdam University Medical Centre investigation. According to one study, nursing moms who followed a vegan diet compared to mothers who followed an omnivorous diet had no change in human milk concentrations of vitamin B2 or carnitine, despite the fact that these nutrients are present in the highest quantities in animal products.

    The findings were reported at the European Society for Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (ESPGHAN) 55th Annual Meeting. This study addresses notions that vegan diets are not nutritionally adequate and that breastfed newborns of vegan moms are at a higher risk of developing vitamin B2 or carnitine deficiency by using a technology that divides a sample into various pieces and assesses their mass.

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    In Europe alone, the number of vegans has more than doubled in the previous four years. “The maternal diet greatly influences the nutritional composition of human milk, which is important for child development,” says lead researcher Dr Hannah Juncker.

    There are worries concerning the nutritional quality of breastfeeding mothers’ milk as vegan diets become more popular across the world. […] As a result, it would be vital to know if the amounts of those nutrients in nursing mothers eating a vegan diet change.”

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    Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is an essential cofactor for enzymes involved in several metabolic activities. Previous research has indicated that a considerable deficiency of vitamin B2 in neonates might result in anaemia and neurological disorders.

    The principal biological function of carnitine is in energy metabolism. Carnitine deficiency in the baby can result in low blood sugar as well as heart and brain problems. Carnitine consumption and resultant plasma concentrations have previously been observed to be lower in vegans than in omnivores. Previous research even suggests that certain nursing women may need to increase their diet of animal products to avoid deficits while breastfeeding. According to this study, the impact of a vegan diet on these two key elements in milk may be less substantial than previously thought.

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    While the current study found decreased blood-free carnitine and acetylcarnitine concentrations in vegan moms, there was no difference in human milk carnitine concentrations across study groups.

    Dr Juncker describes the findings, “The results of our study suggest that consumption of a vegan diet has no effect on vitamin B2 and carnitine concentrations in human milk.” These findings demonstrate that a vegan diet in nursing moms does not increase the risk of vitamin B2 or carnitine deficiency in breastfed babies. This knowledge is valuable for both nursing moms and donor human milk banks, which collect milk for preterm children who do not receive enough mother’s milk.”

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