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Bioavailability of isoflavone phytoestrogens in postmenopausal women consuming soya milk fermented with probiotic bifidobacteria

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2007

Dimitri Tsangalis
Food Safety Authenticity and Quality Unit, Victoria University, Werribee Campus, Victoria, Australia
Gisela Wilcox*
Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Unit & Monash University, Department of Medicine, Monash Medical Centre,Clayton, Victoria, Australia
Nagendra P. Shah
School of Molecular Sciences, Victoria University, Werribee Campus, Victoria, Australia
Lily Stojanovska
School of Biomedical Sciences, Victoria University, St Albans Campus, Victoria, Australia
*Corresponding author: Dr Gisela Wilcox, fax +61 3 9594 6370, email
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We investigated the effects of consuming an isoflavone aglycone-enriched soya milk containing viable bifidobacteria on urinary isoflavone excretion and percentage recovery. Sixteen postmenopausal women were randomly divided into two groups to consume either fermented or non-fermented soya milk. Each group participated in a double-blind, crossover study with three 14 d supplementation periods, separated by a 14 d washout. Subjects ingested three daily dosages of isoflavone via the soya milk and collected four 24 h pooled urine specimens per supplementation period. Soya milks were prepared with soya protein isolate and soya germ, followed by fermentation with bifidobacteria. Isoflavone levels were quantified using HPLC. Non-fermented soya milks at 20, 40 and 80 mg isoflavone/200 ml contained 10 %, 9 % and 7 % aglycone, respectively, with their fermented counterparts containing 69 %, 57 % and 36 % aglycone (P<0·001). A trend to a greater percentage urinary recovery of daidzein and glycitein was observed among women consuming fermented soya milk at a dosage of 40 mg isoflavone (P=0·13). A distinct linear dose response for the fermented soya milk group (R2=0·9993) compared with the non-fermented group (R2=0·8865) suggested less interindividual variation in isoflavone absorption. However, total urinary isoflavone excretion was similar for both groups (P>0·05), with urinary isoflavone recovery at approximately 31 %. Increasing the isoflavone dosage correlated positively with its urinary excretion, but urinary percentage recovery of isoflavone was inversely related to dosage level. Hence, a modest dosage ranging from 20 to 30 mg/d may provide the most bioavailable source of isoflavone, regardless of whether it is via an aglycone-rich fermented soya milk or a glucoside-rich soya milk.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005


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