Reed Mangels: Vitamin A in Vegan Breast Milk

Based on some articles that were floating around the Internet suggesting that vegan infants might be at risk for vitamin A deficiency, I asked Reed Mangels, PhD, RD what evidence we have that the breast milk of vegan mothers is adequate in vitamin A. She wrote an article about it and posted it in the Vegetarian Resource Group’s blog:

Vitamin A and Breastfed Babies


“The bottom line – Vegan women who are breastfeeding should make sure that their diet includes good sources of precursors of vitamin A. These are foods rich in beta-carotene such as winter squash, carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and green leafy vegetables. Dietary fat is needed to promote beta-carotene absorption so it is important that lactating women not overly limit dietary fat.”

4 Responses to “Reed Mangels: Vitamin A in Vegan Breast Milk”

  1. karin Says:

    I raised two perfectly healthy breast-fed vegan babies. I am betting there are worse stat’s for ignorant carnivores

  2. Alanna Says:

    Thank you Jack. As a relatively new vegan, and breastfeeding mom, this information is very helpful.

  3. Andreas Says:


    Reed Mangels suggests adding fat with Vitamin A rich foods but do you think that adding oils to raw leafy greens can interfere with break down of the cell walls of leafy greens by us chewing less and eventually the absorption of nitrates from raw leafy greens?

    I also don’t understand why they recommend adding fat with leafy greens when our own bodies produce bile for the absorption of fat soluble molecules.

  4. Jack Norris RD Says:


    “For dietary carotenoids to be absorbed intestinally, they must be released from the food matrix and incorporated into mixed micelles (mixtures of bile salts and several types of lipids) (2). Therefore, carotenoid absorption requires the presence of fat in a meal. As little as 3-5 g of fat in a meal appears sufficient to ensure carotenoid absorption (3, 4).”

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