Vitamins are the essential elements for human life and, particularly, for infant health. Human milk is the best source of nutrients for newborns, however, the information of vitamins in Asian maternal milk is still limited. In this study, we have collected 580 Asian maternal milk samples from Korea (n = 254), China (n = 137), Pakistan (n = 92), and Vietnam (n = 97). The vitamin concentrations, including vitamin B-groups (8 vitamins), fat-soluble vitamin (retinol, D, E, K) and lutein in the breast milk of were investigated. The concentration of thiamin (B1), biotin (B7), and folic acid (B9) in mother's milk of four countries were not considerably different, while riboflavin (B2), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6) level in Vietnam samples were significantly lower than those in other countries. In contrast, retinol (A) and tocopherol (E) were found to be higher levels in Vietnamese maternal milk. Korean and Chinese maternal milk had low concentrations of retinol that may cause vitamin A deficiency in children. However, Chinese mother's milk was distinguished with a high concentration of lutein. Pakistani mother's milk was observed as having a significant problem of folic acid (B9) deficiency. Regardless of the country, vitamin B12, K, and D did not seem to be provided sufficiently through maternal milk. The moderate positive correlations were found between vitamin concentrations in each country and the pooled sample. The data obtained in this study were able to provide vital information to assess the nutritional status of breast milk in Asian countries and contributed to the efforts of ensuring the best nutrition for Asian children.
Keywords: human milk; liquid-chromatography; mass spectrometry; quantification; vitamin.