A recent study examined the association between macular pigment optical density (MPOD) and dietary or breastmilk carotenoids in postpartum women to better understand the availability and mobilization of carotenoids.
Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants that influence retinoid signaling level which is important in early visual and cognitive development. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital conducted an observational study, published in Nutrients1, that examined the association between macular pigment optical density (MPOD) and dietary or breastmilk carotenoids in postpartum women to better understand the availability and mobilization of carotenoids.
MPOD measurements and dietary intake of five carotenoids were obtained from 80 mothers in the first three months postpartum. Breastmilk samples from a subset of mothers were analyzed to determine their nutrient composition.
Their results showed that dietary alpha-carotene was positively correlated with MPOD. Of the breastmilk carotenoids, two different types of lutein were correlated with MPOD when controlled for the total lutein in breastmilk. According to the researchers, “MPOD may serve as a potential marker for the intake of carotenoids, especially alpha-carotene, in mothers in the early postpartum period.”
Dr. Ariati Aris, scientific affairs specialist at PhytoGaia, said these results are exciting because, “it is the first study to examine maternal MPOD and dietary associations in the postpartumperiod in a term-born population. Carotenoids have beenproven in trials to improve macular and cognitive health. Therefore,it is important for mothers to include alpha-carotene in their diets to ensure the healthy visual development of their babies.”