The term "vitamin P" is an old but interesting concept. Most substances in this category belong to the family of flavonoids. "Vitamin P" has also been used to define the activity of some flavonoids, including quercetin, myricetin, and rutin. According to experimental studies, the "quercetin-like natural plant flavonoids" are beneficial to the body due to their various physiological and pharmacological activities in large doses (5 μM in vitro, 50 mg/kg in mice and 100 mg/kg in rats). The physiologically achievable concentration is 10 to 100 nM, which is quite high and hard to achieve from a normal diet. Thus, the physiologic activity and mechanism of "vitamin P" are still not clear. It should be noted that the quercetin-like natural plant flavonoids are physiological co-factors of cyclooxygenases (COXs), which are the rate-limiting key enzymes of prostaglandins. These quercetin-like natural plant flavonoids can strongly stimulate prostaglandin levels at lower doses (10 nM in vitro and in 0.1 mg/kg in vivo in rats). Although these "vitamin P" substances are not original substances in the body, their physiological functions affect the body. This review is focused on the most compelling evidence regarding the physiologic role and mechanism of quercetin-like natural plant flavonoids, which may be useful in understanding the physiological functions of "vitamin P", with the goal of focusing on the role of flavonoids in human physiological health.
Keywords: COXs; Physiologic activity; co-factor; prostaglandin; quercetin-like nature plant flavonoids; vitamin P.
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