Ascorbic acid supplementation and regular consumption of fresh orange juice increase the ascorbic acid content of human milk: Studies in European and African lactating women

Synøve Daneel-Otterbech, Lena Davidsson, Richard Hurrell

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Background: Little is known about the influence of an increased intake of ascorbic acid (AA) on human milk AA output. Objective: We aimed to compare human milk AA content in European and African women and to evaluate the influence of increased AA intake on human milk AA output. Design: Apparently healthy lactating women were recruited. AA was analyzed by titration with 2,6-dichlorophenol-indophenol. Results: Mean human milk AA was ≈50% lower (P < 0.001) in the African women (31 mg/kg; n = 171) than in the European women (63 mg/kg; n = 142). AA supplementation (1000 mg/d for 10 d) increased mean human milk AA from 19 to 60 mg/kg (P < 0.001) and from 60 to 70 mg/kg (P = 0.03) in 18 African and 10 European women, respectively. In 11 African women, mean human milk AA increased from 17 to 36 mg/kg (P < 0.001) after intake of 100 mg AA/d for 10 d. In African women, intake of 1 serving of orange juice per week had no significant effect, whereas 3 or 5 servings/wk (≈100 mg AA/serving) for 6 wk increased mean human milk AA from 16 to 32 mg/kg (n = 13) and from 21 to 46 mg/kg (n = 13), respectively (P < 0.001). Conclusions: Human milk AA can be doubled or tripled by increased intake of AA in women with low human milk AA content at baseline. The response to a relatively high dose of AA was modest in European women in contrast with the 3-fold increase in mean human milk AA content in African women. These data indicate that human milk AA content is regulated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1088-1093
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2005



  • Ascorbic acid
  • Breastfeeding
  • Fruit juice
  • Infants
  • Vitamin C

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