Journal of Dairy Research

Original Articles

657. Factors influencing the vitamin content of milk fat: III. Seasonal changes in the vitamin A and carotenoid content of the blood plasma and milk fat of cows on pasture

W. A. McGillivraya1

a1 Biochemistry Department, Massey Agricultural College (University of New Zealand), palmerston North, New Zealand

1. The levels of vitamin A alcohol and ester, carotene and xanthophyll in the blood plasma of six cows, grazed out-of-doors on pasture under typical New Zealand conditions, have been followed throughout one lactation. The same constituents have also been followed in the milk fats of these animals and in commercial factory butters over the same season.

2. The seasonal trend in the vitamin A and carotenoid content of New Zealand milk fat is a reflexion of the changing level of these substances in the blood plasma.

3. The decreased level of carotene, xanthophyll and vitamin A ester in the blood plasma over the summer months is consistent with a decreased absorption or utilization of carotenoids over this period.

4. Throughout the year the vitamin A in the milk fat is predominantly in the ester form with no increase in vitamin A alcohol indicative of any increased utilization of hepatic vitamin A reserves.

The author is indebted to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research for a grant towards this investigation; to Mr M. R. Patchell and the farm staff of The Dairy Research Institute (N.Z.) for assistance in the collection of milk and blood samples; to Dr F. H. McDowall, Mr A. K. R. McDowell and the staff of the Chemistry Laboratory, The Dairy Research Institute (N.Z.), for the preparation of the fat samples and for the supply of factory butters. The assistance of Miss Fay Frecklington and Miss Jane Monroe with part of the experimental work is also acknowledged.

(Received August 23 1956)