Individual tocopherols and tocotrienols in human milk, mother’s milk substitutes and other infant formulas have been determined by an HPLC method. 107 human milk samples (23 colostral, 22 transitional and 62 mature) obtained from six healthy mothers throughout the lactation were found to contain all the tocopherols, although delta-tocopherol occurred only in traces. A high content of alpha-tocopherol was found in colostrum (average 1.90 +/- 1.62 (SD) mg/100 g), as compared with transitional (0.65 +/- 0.22 mg/100 g) and mature milk (0.47 +/- 0.16 mg/100 g). The content of beta-tocopherol averaged 0.05 +/- 0.03, 0.02 +/- 0.01 and 0.02 +/- 0.01 and gamma-tocopherol 0.11 +/- 0.09, 0.07 +/- 0.04 and 0.07 +/- 0.04 mg/100 g in colostral, transitional and mature milk respectively. The alpha-tocopherol equivalents thus were 1.93, 0.66 and 0.49 mg/100 g; their ratios to the contents of polyunsaturated fatty acids meet the nutritional need of the newborn and young infant: 5.7, 2.1 and 1.4 mg/g in colostral, transitional and mature milk. Mother’s milk substitutes and gruel and porridge powders are enriched with tocopherol acetate to vitamin E levels similar to or higher than those in human milk: substitutes contained on average 1.4 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents/100 g and reconstituted powders 1.1 mg/100 g. The ratio of vitamin E to polyunsaturated fatty acids of these infant formulas was higher than the recommended value of 0.6 mg/g. The average values for alpha-tocopherol equivalents in fruit-berry and meat-vegetable infant formulas were 0.46 and 0.38 mg/100g.
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