We have investigated the effects of maternal diets low in fat or protein, or restricted in total food intake on vitamin A transfer from the dam to her pups. When animals were fed on diets moderately restricted in fat or protein, minimal differences in milk, serum, and liver vitamin A concentrations were observed compared with animals fed on a control diet. In a second study, dams were fed on diets more severely restricted in protein, or fat, or both, or were fed on a control diet equal to 50% of the intake of control rats but containing an equal amount of vitamin A. The quantity of milk obtained from these more severely restricted dams’ nipples or the pups’ stomachs was greatly reduced; however, there were no differences in milk vitamin A concentration. Body-weight, liver weight, and total liver vitamin A stores of undernourished pups were just half those measured for control pups, although serum vitamin A and serum retinol-binding protein were nearly normal in concentration. We conclude that (a) moderate restrictions in fat or protein in the maternal diet are insufficient to affect transfer of vitamin A to the suckling pup; (b) further dietary restrictions could cause decreased milk production with little change in milk vitamin A concentration and, hence, (c) the neonates’ hepatic retinol accumulation during the suckling period is markedly reduced when maternal diets are severely deficient in fat or protein or of normal composition but restricted in amount.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics