Breast milk carotenoids provide neonates with a source of vitamin A and potentially, oxidative stress protection and other health benefits. Chlorella, which has high levels of carotenoids such as lutein, zeaxanthin and β-carotene, is an effective dietary source of carotenoids for humans. In this study, the effect of maternal supplementation with Chlorella on carotenoid levels in breast milk at early lactation was investigated. Ten healthy, pregnant women received 6 g of Chlorella daily from gestational week 16-20 until the day of delivery (Chlorella group); ten others did not (control group). Among the carotenoids detected in breast milk, lutein, zeaxanthin and β-carotene concentrations in the Chlorella group were 2.6-fold (p = 0.001), 2.7-fold (p = 0.001) and 1.7-fold (p = 0.049) higher, respectively, than those in the control group. Our study shows that Chlorella intake during pregnancy is effective in improving the carotenoid status of breast milk at early lactation.
Keywords: bioavailability; lutein; pregnant woman; zeaxanthin; β-carotene.