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Coffee and green tea are two of the most widely consumed hot beverages in the world. Their respective bioavailability has been studied separately, but absorption of their respective bioactive phenolics has not been compared. In a randomised cross-over design, nine healthy subjects drank instant coffee and green tea. Blood samples were collected over 12 h and at 24 h to assess return to baseline. After green tea consumption, ( − )-epigallocatechin (EGC) was the major catechin, appearing rapidly in the plasma; ( − )-EGC gallate (EGCg) and ( − )-epicatechin (EC) were also present, but ( − )-EC gallate and C were not detected. Dihydroferulic acid and dihydrocaffeic acid were the major metabolites that appeared after coffee consumption with a long time needed to reach maximum plasma concentration, suggesting metabolism and absorption in the colon. Other phenolic acid equivalents (caffeic acid (CA), ferulic acid (FA) and isoferulic acid (iFA)) were detected earlier, and they peaked at lower concentrations. Summations of the plasma area under the curves (AUC) for the measured metabolites showed 1·7-fold more coffee-derived phenolic acids than green tea-derived catechins (P = 0·0014). Furthermore, we found a significant correlation between coffee metabolites based on AUC. Inter-individual differences were observed, but individuals with a high level of CA also showed a correspondingly high level of FA. However, no such correlation was observed between the tea catechins and coffee phenolic acids. Correlation between AUC and maximum plasma concentration was also significant for CA, FA and iFA and for EGCg. This implies that the mechanisms of absorption for these two classes of compounds are different, and that a high absorber of phenolic acids is not necessarily a high absorber of catechins.
Dietary bioactive compounds (vitamin E, carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamin C, Se and Zn) have beneficial effects on skin health. The classical route of administration of active compounds is by topical application direct to the skin, and manufacturers have substantial experience of formulating ingredients in this field. However, the use of functional foods and oral supplements for improving skin condition is increasing. For oral consumption, some dietary components could have an indirect effect on the skin via, for example, secondary messengers. However, in the case of the dietary bioactive compounds considered here, we assume that they must pass down the gastrointestinal tract, cross the intestinal barrier, reach the blood circulation, and then be distributed to the different tissues of the body including the skin. The advantages of this route of administration are that the dietary bioactive compounds are metabolized and then presented to the entire tissue, potentially in an active form. Also, the blood continuously replenishes the skin with these bioactive compounds, which can then be distributed to all skin compartments (i.e. epidermis, dermis, subcutaneous fat and also to sebum). Where known, the distribution and mechanisms of transport of dietary bioactive compounds in skin are presented. Even for compounds that have been studied well in other organs, information on skin is relatively sparse. Gaps in knowledge are identified and suggestions made for future research.
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