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

Dimitri Tsangalis, Gisela Wilcox, Nagendra P. Shah, Lily Stojanovska

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


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 14d 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/200ml 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 (R 2 = 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-877
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Bifidobacteria
  • Bioavailability
  • Isoflavone
  • Postmenopausal women
  • Soya milk

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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