Vitamin A or retinol is found in breast milk to an extent of 50 micrograms/100ml and meets the requirements of the infant. Total deficiency of vitamin A in milk due to poor intake by the mother as well as poor stores may lead to problems like loss of vision as well as symptoms like a dry skin, failure to thrive, apathy, anemia etc. Vitamin A deficiency take a toll in both infancy and early childhood.
Vitamin D is not found in sufficient quantity in human milk, but exposure to sunlight can provide this vitamin to the infant.
Vitamin E is the antioxidant vitamin which protects the lipids of the cells from oxidative destruction. Breast milk contains sufficient quantities of this fat soluble vitamin to meet infant needs.
Vitamin K : At birth, the infant gastro intestinal tract is sterile and does not have vitamin K producing bacteria. The plasma prothrombin levels are also low to prevent clots being formed due to stress at the time of birth. After the infant starts feeding breast milk, the intestinal bacteria develop and produce vitamin K. A single dose of vitamin K is recommended at the time of birth.
B- Complex vitamins
Most of the B- complex vitamins can be met through breast milk or formula. Vitamin B12 and folate are particularly important for their role in growth. They are essential for DNA synthesis and their deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia.
Vitamin C content of breast milk depends on the mother’s intake and usually meets the needs of the infants. Infants fed on cow’s milk may develop deficiency symptoms such as anorexia, diarrhea, irritability, pin point hemorrhages etc.