Total water-soluble choline concentration does not differ in milk from vegan, vegetarian, and non-vegetarian lactating women

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Maryanne T. Perrin, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Background: Choline is an essential nutrient for brain growth and other processes in the developing neonate. The impact of a maternal plant-based diet on the choline composition of breast milk is unknown. Objective: We assessed the water-soluble choline content of milk from lactating women in the United States following 3 dietary patterns: vegan, vegetarian, and nonvegetarian. Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of 74 healthy lactating women who provided a single breast-milk sample using a standardized collection protocol. Participants completed a food-frequency screener and were classified as follows: nonvegetarians (NONVEG) consumed meat; vegetarians (VEGT) consumed milk, dairy, and/or fish; and vegans (VEGAN) consumed animal products less than monthly. Primary outcomes measured were the concentration (in milligrams per liter) and distribution (percentage) of choline from the following water-soluble forms: free choline, phosphocholine (PCho), and glycerophosphocholine (GPC). Differences between diet groups were evaluated with ANOVA. Results: There was a wide range in breast-milk total water-soluble choline (4–301 mg/L), with no significant difference (P > 0.05) by maternal diet pattern. There were differences in choline forms, with VEGAN having a greater mean ± SD concentration and distribution of choline derived from GPC (62.7 ± 25.3 mg/L) than VEGT (47.7 ± 21.2 mg/L) and NONVEG (42.4 ± 14.9 mg/L) (P = 0.0052). There was a lower mean ± SD percentage of choline from PCho (P = 0.0106) in VEGAN (32.5% ± 18.3%) than in VEGT (46.1% ± 18.3%) and NONVEG (44.8% ± 15.7%). Lactation stage and maternal BMI were significantly associated with some choline forms. Conclusions: There was a wide range of water-soluble choline concentrations in the milk of healthy lactating women following vegan, vegetarian, and nonvegetarian diets, with no observed difference in total water-soluble choline concentration by maternal diet. This suggests that maternal plant-based diet by itself is not a risk factor for low breast-milk choline.

Additional Information

The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 150, Issue 3, March 2020, Pages 512–517,
Language: English
Date: 2019
choline, breast milk, vegan, vegetarian, phosphocholine, glycerophosphocholine

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