Effects of isoflavone supplements vs. soy foods on blood concentrations of genistein and daidzein in adults

J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Mar;20(3):227-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2008.02.008. Epub 2008 Jul 7.


The objective of this investigation was to examine the pharmacokinetics of isoflavone concentrations over a 24-h period among healthy adults consuming either soy foods or soy isoflavone tablets at different doses. This randomized, cross-over trial was conducted with 12 generally healthy adults. The three phases of the intervention included isoflavone tablets at (1) 144 mg/day or (2) 288 mg/day and (3) soy foods designed to provide a calculated 96 mg isoflavones/day (doses in aglycone equivalents). Doses were spread out over three meals per day. After 6 days on each study phase, plasma isoflavone concentrations were determined on the seventh day at 0, 4, 8, 10, 12 and 24 h. Average levels of total isoflavone concentrations at 8, 10 and 12 h were >4 micromol/L for the soy food phase and for the higher dose tablet phase. Genistein concentrations were higher overall in the soy food vs. both the lower and the higher dose supplement phases of the study (P<.05). When comparing plasma concentrations for the two doses of tablets, saturation appeared more evident for genistein than for daidzein at the higher dose level. In conclusion, we observed important differences in the pharmacokinetics of genistein and daidzein contrasting the sources and doses of isoflavones when administered three times daily, including a possible advantage for increasing serum concentrations of isoflavones from consuming soy foods relative to isoflavone supplements.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Availability
  • Blood Specimen Collection
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Female
  • Genistein / blood*
  • Genistein / pharmacokinetics
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / blood
  • Isoflavones / pharmacokinetics
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Soy Foods*


  • Isoflavones
  • daidzein
  • Genistein