Selected elements and fatty acid composition in human milk as indicators of seafood dietary habits / 14.11.2019

The present study aimed to test whether the levels of selected elements and FAs and δ13CFA in human milk could represent a more reliable marker of seafood dietary habits and sources of food consumed as assessed from the questionnaire data.

The present study is the first to investigate stable isotopes of FAs in human milk in Slovenia. This study showed that human milk samples from coastal (KP) and inland (MS) areas had different elemental and FA compositions and different FA stable isotope profiles, which is indicative of the different dietary habits and lifestyles in the two distinct study areas of Slovenia. Therefore, the FA composition and its δ13CFA values together with the elemental composition in maternal milk could be used as a marker of fresh seafood intake.

Data mining approaches confirmed that using the classifier for fresh seafood intake based on the seven variables, including elemental composition, levels of FAs, and their stable isotopes in milk, enables distinguishing between seafood consumption less than once per month vs at least once per month fresh with 84% accuracy. Clustering could be used to divide the data sets into two with 90% accuracy. A clustering approach based on the percentage of the FAs iC17:0, C4:0, C18:2ω6t, aC17:0, CLA, C22:4ω6, and δ13C of C18:1ω9c is an accurate indicator to distinguish between higher and lower fresh seafood intake. This confirmed our hypothesis that stable isotope analysis in combination with elemental analysis is an important tool to distinguish between diets, particularly for seafood. These findings suggest that in human-related studies related to the risks and benefits of seafood consumption, the analyses of FAs, their stable isotopes, and elemental compositions can significantly improve the information on seafood consumption.

Study is presented in article: “Selected elements and fatty acid composition in human milk as indicators of seafood dietary habits” prepared by M. Jagodic, D. Potočnik, J. Snoj Tratnik, D. Mazej, M. Pavlin, A. Trdin, T. Eftomov, L. Kononenko, N. Ogrinc, M. Horvat in Environmental Research, available online: