Several dietary phytochemicals exhibit anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-osteoporotic activities relevant to prevention of chronic diseases, including lifestyle-related diseases. Soybean isoflavones are similar in structure to estrogen and have received considerable attention as potential alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. Daidzein, a major isoflavone found in soybean, is metabolized to equol by intestinal microflora; this metabolite exhibits stronger estrogenic activity than daidzein. Recent studies suggest that the clinical effectiveness of isoflavones might be due to their ability to produce equol in the gut. This review focused on the metabolic pathway of equol and possible bioactivities of equol and O-desmethylangolensin, another metabolite of daidzein, with regard to bone metabolism and the status of intestinal microflora. Furthermore, we considered risk-benefit analyses of isoflavones and their metabolites.
Keywords: O-desmethyangolensin; bone; equol; isoflavone; osteoporosis.