Carnitine concentrations were measured in the milk of sheep, cows, goats, and horses, in human milk of term and preterm infants and in European infant formulas. There were significant species’ differences in carnitine milk content. Acylcarnitme concentrations ranged from 13 to 47% of total carnitine. This may be related to differences in maternal and/or mammary gland metabolism. The concentration of long-chain acylcarnitine in milk was under 1 % in all investigated species. In cow’s milk, there was a decrease in acylcarnitine concentration during the first 2 months of lactation. In human milk, carnitine concentrations did not change during the 1 st month postpartum, but maternal plasma carnitine concentrations increased and plasma concentrations of acylcarnitine were always lower than those in simultaneously sampled milk. Milk carnitine concentrations in mothers of premature infants were not different from those in mothers of term infants. European formulas based on cow’s milk contained somewhat more carnitine than human milk. However, very low carnitine concentrations were found in soy-based or protein hydrolysate formulas. This may lead to nutritional carnitine deficiency in infants receiving these formulas without carnitine supplementation.

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