British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Human and Clinical Nutrition

The relationship between fasting plasma concentrations of selected flavonoids and their ordinary dietary intake

Jie Caoa1, Ying Zhanga1, Wei Chena1 and Xiujuan Zhaoa1 c1

a1 Department of Nutrition and Food Hygiene, Public Health School, Harbin Medical University, 194 Xuefu Road, Harbin, Heilongjiang, People's Republic of China


Epidemiological studies suggest that a diet high in flavonoids protects against chronic diseases such as CVD and cancer. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between the intake of quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, apigenin and luteolin and their corresponding plasma concentrations, and further to explore whether these flavonoids can serve as biomarkers of their intake. Flavonoid intake and their plasma concentrations were analysed in ninety-two subjects consuming their habitual diet. Flavonoid intake was estimated with 7-d dietary records using available data on the flavonoid content of food. Plasma flavonoid concentrations were quantified by HPLC. In addition, we undertook a dietary intervention study to investigate plasma apigenin concentration after the consumption of celery leaf. The mean intake estimates of quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, apigenin and luteolin amounted to 13·58, 14·97, 12·31, 4·23 and 8·08 mg/d, respectively. The corresponding mean plasma concentrations were 80·23, 57·86, 39·94, 10·62 and 99·90 nmol/l. The mean 7 d intake of five flavonoids was positively correlated to their corresponding plasma concentrations, with correlation coefficients ranging from 0·33 to 0·51 (P < 0·05). In the dietary intervention study, the plasma apigenin concentration rose after celery leaf ingestion, and fell within 28 h to below the limit of detection (2·32 nmol/l). The present results suggest that quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin, apigenin and luteolin are bioavailable from the diet. The levels of fasting plasma flavonoids seem to be suitable biomarkers of short-term intake. The combination of plasma flavonoids with their intake may prove useful when the possible health-protective effects of flavonoids are studied.

(Received April 24 2009)

(Revised July 21 2009)

(Accepted July 22 2009)

(Online publication September 14 2009)


c1 Corresponding author: Xiujuan Zhao, fax +86 451 87502885, email


Abbreviations: 7-d DR, 7-d dietary records