Phytoestrogen content of foods of animal origin: dairy products, eggs, meat, fish, and seafood

J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Nov 12;56(21):10099-104. doi: 10.1021/jf801344x. Epub 2008 Oct 16.


Dietary phytoestrogens may be involved in the occurrence of chronic diseases. Reliable information on the phytoestrogen content in foods is required to assess dietary exposure and disease risk in epidemiological studies. However, existing analyses have focused on only one class of these compounds in plant-based foods, and there is only little information on foods of animal origin, leading to an underestimation of intake. This is the first comprehensive study of phytoestrogen content in animal food. We have determined the phytoestrogen content (isoflavones: biochanin A, daidzein, formononetin, genistein, and glycitein; lignans: secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol; coumestrol; equol; enterolactone; and enterodiol) in 115 foods of animal origin (including milk and milk-products, eggs, meat, fish, and seafood) and vegetarian substitutes using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) with (13)C-labeled internal standards. Phytoestrogens were detected in all foods analyzed; the average content was 20 microg/100 g of wet weight (isoflavones, 6 microg/100 g; lignans, 6 microg/100 g; equol, 3 microg/100 g; and enterolignans, 6 microg/100 g). In infant soy formula, 19 221 microg/100 g phytoestrogens were detected (compared to 59 microg/100 g in non-soy formula). Our study shows that all foods analyzed contained phytoestrogens and most foods (except for fish, seafood, and butter) contained mammalian phytoestrogens (enterolignans and equol). This is the first comprehensive study of phytoestrogen content of foods of animal origin and will allow for a more accurate estimation of exposure to dietary phytoestrogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Dairy Products / analysis
  • Eggs / analysis*
  • Meat / analysis*
  • Phytoestrogens / analysis*
  • Seafood / analysis*
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry


  • Phytoestrogens