[Effect of vitamin E supplementation on alpha-tocopherol levels in human colostrum]

Rev Panam Salud Publica. 2011 Jun;29(6):399-403.
[Article in Portuguese]


Objective: To assess the levels of alpha-tocopherol in human colostrum following supplementation with capsules containing vitamin A plus synthetic vitamin E.

Methods: Thirty healthy women about to give birth were recruited from a public maternity hospital. After overnight fasting, blood samples as well as colostrum samples (2 mL) were collected. After the first collection, the women received supplementation with a capsule containing retinyl palmitate (200,000 IU or 60 mg) plus synthetic vitamin E (49.4 mg dl-alpha tocopherol). Twenty-four hours after supplementation, a second 2 mL colostrum sample was collected after overnight fasting.

Results: The serum concentration of alpha-tocopherol was 1 042,9 ± 319.0 µg/dL. The concentration of alpha-tocopherol in colostrum before supplementation was 155.4 ± 811.0 µg/dL, vs. 1 396.3 ± 862.2 µg/dL 24 hours after supplementation (P > 0.05). A correlation was found between fasting levels of alpha-tocopherol in colostrum before supplementation and 24 hours after supplementation (P = 0.001; r = 0.58), but not between the concentrations in serum and colostrum.

Conclusions: There was no increase in the levels of alpha-tocopherol in colostrum 24 hours after supplementation. This suggests that supplementation with synthetic vitamin E is not advantageous. However, the present results also suggest that if the nutritional state is adequate prior to supplementation, more tocopherol will be available in colostrum after supplementation. Further studies should be carried out to investigate the effects of supplementation with the natural form of alpha-tocopherol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Weight
  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Colostrum / chemistry*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Diterpenes
  • Fasting / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Milk, Human / chemistry*
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / pharmacokinetics
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult
  • alpha-Tocopherol / blood*


  • Diterpenes
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E
  • retinol palmitate
  • alpha-Tocopherol