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Bioavailability of dietary flavonoids and phenolic compounds

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  • Pharmacology

Abstract

This paper reviews recent human studies on the bioavailability of dietary flavonoids and related compounds, including chlorogenic acids and ellagitannins, in which the identification of metabolites, catabolites and parent compounds in plasma, urine and ileal fluid was based on mass spectrometric methodology. Compounds absorbed in the small intestine appear in the circulatory system predominantly as glucuronide, sulfate and methylated metabolites which seemingly treated by the body as xenobiotics as they are rapidly removed from the bloodstream. As a consequence, while analysis of plasma provides valuable information on the identity and pharmacokinetic profiles of circulating metabolites after acute supplementation, it does not provide accurate quantitative assessments of uptake from the gastrointestinal tract. Urinary excretion, of which there are great variations with different classes of flavonoids, provides a more realistic figure but, as this does not include the possibility of metabolites being sequestered in body tissues, this too is an under estimate of absorption, but to what degree remains to be determined. Even when absorption occurs in the small intestine, feeding studies with ileostomists reveal that substantial amounts of the parent compounds and some of their metabolites appear in ileal fluid indicating that in volunteers with a functioning colon these compounds will pass to the large intestine where they are subjected to the action of the colonic microflora. A diversity of colonic-derived catabolites is absorbed into the bloodstream and passes through the body prior to excretion in urine. There is growing evidence that these compounds, which were little investigated until recently, are produced in quantity in the colon and form a key part of the bioavailability equation of dietary flavonoids and related phenolic compounds

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