Skip to main content Accessibility help

Dietary intake and urinary excretion of lignans in Finnish men

  • Tarja Nurmi (a1), Jaakko Mursu (a1), José L. Peñalvo (a2), Henrik E. Poulsen (a3) and Sari Voutilainen (a1) (a4)...


Intake of lignans has been assessed in different study populations, but so far none of the studies has compared the daily intake of lignans and the urinary excretion of plant and enterolignans. We assessed the intake of lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol in 100 Finnish men consuming their habitual omnivorous diet, and measured the 24 h urinary excretion of plant and enterolignans to compare the intake and metabolism. Dietary determinants of lignan intake and their urinary excretion were also determined. The mean intake of lignans was 1224 (sd 539) μg/d, of which lariciresinol and pinoresinol covered 78 %. Almost half (47 %) of the intake of lignans was explained by the intake of rye products, berries, coffee, tea and roots. The urinary excretion of plant lignans corresponded to 17 % and enterolignans to 92 % of the intake of lignans. The urinary excretion of plant lignans was explained 14 % by the intake of rye products and intake of coffee, and consequently 3–7 % by the intake of water-insoluble fibre. The urinary excretion of enterolactone was explained 11 % by the intake of vegetables and rye products, 14 % by the intake of water-soluble fibre and only 4 % by the intake of lariciresinol. Although the assessed intake of lignans corresponded well with the urinary excretion of lignans, the enterolactone production in the human body depended more on the dietary sources of lignans than the absolute intake of lignans.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Dietary intake and urinary excretion of lignans in Finnish men
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Dietary intake and urinary excretion of lignans in Finnish men
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Dietary intake and urinary excretion of lignans in Finnish men
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Dr Tarja Nurmi, fax +358 17 162 936, email


Hide All
1Ward, RS (1993) Lignans, neolignans, and related compounds. Nat Prod Rep 10, 128.
2Axelson, M, Sjövall, J, Gustafsson, BE, et al. (1982) Origin of lignans in mammals and identification of a precursor from plants. Nature 298, 659660.
3Thompson, LU, Robb, P, Serraino, M, et al. (1991) Mammalian lignan production from various foods. Nutr Cancer 16, 4352.
4Mazur, WM (1998) Phytoestrogen content in foods. In Baillière's Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Phyto-oestrogens, pp. 729742 [Adlercreutz, H, editor]. London: Baillière Tindall.
5Heinonen, S, Nurmi, T, Liukkonen, K, et al. (2001) In vitro metabolism of plant lignans: new precursors of mammalian lignans enterolactone and enterodiol. J Agric Food Chem 49, 31783186.
6Touillaud, MS, Thiebaut, ACM, Fournier, A, et al. (2007) Dietary lignan intake and postmenopausal breast cancer risk by estrogen and progesterone receptor status. J Natl Cancer Inst 99, 475486.
7Vanharanta, M, Voutilainen, S, Rissanen, TH, et al. (2003) Risk of cardiovascular disease-related and all-cause death according to serum concentrations of enterolactone. Arch Intern Med 163, 10991104.
8Kilkkinen, A, Virtamo, J, Vartiainen, E, et al. (2004) Serum enterolactone concentration is not associated with breast cancer risk in a nested case–control study. Int J Cancer 108, 277280.
9Kuijsten, A, Bueno-de-Mesquita, HB, Boer, JMA, et al. (2009) Plasma enterolignans are not associated with nonfatal myocardial infarction risk. Atherosclerosis 203, 145152.
10Adlercreutz, H (2007) Lignans and human health. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci 44, 483525.
11Pillow, PC, Duphorne, CM, Chang, S, et al. (1999) Development of a database for assessing dietary phytoestrogen intake. Nutr Cancer 33, 319.
12Horn-Ross, PL, Barnes, S, Lee, M, et al. (2000) Assessing phytoestrogen exposure in epidemiological studies: development of a database (United States). Cancer Causes Control 11, 289298.
13Valsta, LM, Kilkkinen, A, Mazur, W, et al. (2003) Phyto-oestrogen database of foods and average intake in Finland. Br J Nutr 89, S31S38.
14de Kleijn, MJJ, van der Schow, YT, Wilson, PWF, et al. (2002) Dietary intake of phytoestrogens is associated with a favorable metabolic cardiovascular risk profile in postmenopausal U.S. women: the Framingham study. J Nutr 132, 276282.
15Horn-Ross, PL, Lee, M, John, EM, et al. (2000) Sources of phytoestrogen exposure among non-Asian women in California, USA. Cancer Causes Control 11, 299302.
16van Erp-Baart, M-AJ, Brants, HAM, Kiely, M, et al. (2003) Isoflavone intake in four different European countries: the VENUS approach. Br J Nutr 89, Suppl. 1, S25S30.
17Keinan-Boker, L, van Der Schouw, YT, Grobbee, DE, et al. (2004) Dietary phytoestrogens and breast cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr 79, 282288.
18McCann, SE, Freudenheim, JL, Marshall, JR, et al. (2003) Risk of human ovarian cancer is related to dietary intake of selected nutrients, phytochemicals and food groups. J Nutr 133, 19371942.
19Milder, IEJ, Arts, ICW, Venema, DP, et al. (2004) Optimization of a liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry method for quantification of the plant lignans secoisolariciresinol, matairesinol, lariciresinol, and pinoresinol in foods. J Agric Food Chem 52, 46434651.
20Milder, IEJ, Arts, ICW, van de Putte, B, et al. (2005) Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database including lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol. Br J Nutr 93, 393402.
21Milder, IEJ, Feskens, EJM, Arts, ICW, et al. (2005) Intake of the plant lignans secoisolariciresinol, matairesinol, lariciresinol and pinoresinol in Dutch men and women. J Nutr 135, 12021207.
22Cotterchio, M, Boucher, BA, Kreiger, N, et al. (2008) Dietary phytoestrogen intake – lignans and isoflavones – and breast cancer risk (Canada). Cancer Causes Control 19, 259272.
23Peñalvo, JL, Haajanen, KM, Botting, NP, et al. (2005) Quantification of lignans in food using isotope dilution gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. J Agric Food Chem 53, 93429347.
24Adlercreutz, H, Fotsis, T, Bannwart, C, et al. (1986) Determination of urinary lignans and phytoestrogen metabolites, potential antiestrogens and anticarcinogens, in urine of women on various habitual diets. J Steroid Biochem 25, 791797.
25Kilkkinen, A, Stumpf, K, Pietinen, P, et al. (2001) Determinants of serum enterolactone concentration. Am J Clin Nutr 73, 10941100.
26Horner, NK, Kristal, AR, Prunty, J, et al. (2002) Dietary determinants of plasma enterolactone. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 11, 121126.
27Johansen, NF, Hausner, H, Olsen, A, et al. (2004) Intake of whole grains and vegetables determines the plasma enterolactone concentration of Danish women. J Nutr 134, 26912697.
28Hausner, H, Johnsen, NF, Hallund, J, et al. (2004) A single measurement is inadequate to estimate enterolactone levels in Danish postmenopausal women due to large intraindividual variation. J Nutr 134, 11972000.
29Mennen, LI, Saphino, D, Ito, H, et al. (2008) Urinary excretion of 13 dietary flavonoids and phenolic acids in free-living healthy subjects – variability and possible use as biomarkers of polyphenol intake. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 519525.
30Stumpf, K & Adlercreutz, H (2003) Short-term variation in enterolactone in serum, 24-hour urine and spot urine and relationship with enterolactone concentrations. Clin Chem 49, 178181.
31Bannwart, C, Adlercreutz, H, Wähälä, K, et al. (1989) Detection and identification of the plant lignans lariciresinol, isolariciresinol and secoisolariciresinol in human urine. Clin Chim Acta 180, 293302.
32Adlercreutz, H, Vanderwildt, J, Kinzel, J, et al. (1995) Lignan and isoflavonoid conjugates in human urine. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 52, 97103.
33Nurmi, T, Voutilainen, S, Nyyssönen, K, et al. (2003) Liquid chromatography method for plant and mammalian lignans in human urine. J Chromatogr B 798, 101110.
34Salonen, RM, Nyyssönen, K, Kaikkonen, J, et al. (2003) Six-year effect of combined vitamin C and E supplementation on atherosclerotic progression The Antioxidant Supplementation in Atherosclerosis Prevention (ASAP) Study. Circulation 107, 947953.
35Voutilainen, S, Morrow, JD, Roberts, LJ II, et al. (1999) Enhanced in vivo lipid peroxidation at elevated plasma total homocysteine levels. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 19, 12631266.
36Hakala, P, Marniemi, J, Knuts, L-R, et al. (1996) Calculated vs. analysed nutrient composition of weight reduction diets. Food Chem 57, 7175.
37Smeds, AI, Eklund, PC, Sjöholm, RE, et al. (2007) Quantification of a broad spectrum of lignans in cereals, oilseeds and nuts. J Agric Food Chem 55, 13371346.
38Penttinen-Damdimopoulou, P, Power, K, Hurmerinta, T, et al. (2009) Dietary sources of lignans and isoflavones modulate responses to estradiol in estrogen reporter mice. Mol Nutr Food Res 53, 9961006.
39Thompson, LU, Boucher, BA, Liu, Z, et al. (2006) Phytoestrogen content of foods consumed in Canada, including isoflavones, lignans, and coumestans. Nutr Cancer 54, 184201.
40Penalvo, JL, Adlercreutz, H, Ueahara, M, et al. (2008) Lignan content of selected foods from Japan. J Agric Food Chem 56, 401409.
41Yang, B, Linko, A-M, Adlercreutz, H, et al. (2006) Secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol of sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.) berries of different subspecies and harvesting times. J Agric Food Chem 54, 80658070.
42Vanharanta, M, Voutilainen, S, Nurmi, T, et al. (2002) Association between low serum enterolactone and increased plasma F2-isoprostanes, a measure of lipid peroxidation. Atherosclerosis 160, 465469.
43Penalvo, JL, Heinonen, S-M, Aura, A-M, et al. (2005) Dietary sesamin is converted to enterolactone in humans. J Nutr 135, 10561062.
44Smeds, AI, Willför, SM, Pietarinen, SP, et al. (2007) Occurrence of ‘mammalian’ lignans in plant and water sources. Planta 226, 639646.
45Kuhnle, GGC, dell'Aquila, C, Aspinall, SM, et al. (2008) Phytoestrogen content of foods of animal origin: dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, and seafood. J Agric Food Chem 56, 1009910104.
46Boekema, PJ, Lo, B, Samsom, M, et al. (2000) The effect of coffee on gastric emptying and oro-caecal transit time. Eur J Clin Invest 30, 129134.
47Clavel, T, Borrmann, D, Braune, A, et al. (2006) Occurrence and activity of human intestinal bacteria involved in the conversion of dietary lignans. Anaerobe 12, 140147.
48Setchell, KDR, Lawson, AM, Borriello, SP, et al. (1981) Lignan formation in man – microbial involvement and possible roles in relation to cancer. Lancet ii, 47.
49Kilkkinen, A, Pietinen, P, Klaukka, T, et al. (2002) Use of oral antimicrobials decreases serum enterolactone concentration. Epidemiology 155, 472477.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Dietary intake and urinary excretion of lignans in Finnish men

  • Tarja Nurmi (a1), Jaakko Mursu (a1), José L. Peñalvo (a2), Henrik E. Poulsen (a3) and Sari Voutilainen (a1) (a4)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.