Assessment of isoflavonoid concentrations in Australian bovine milk samples

J Dairy Res. 1998 Aug;65(3):479-89. doi: 10.1017/s0022029998002891.


There is considerable interest in the possibility that diet-derived isoflavonoids may help in protection against a number of chronic diseases common in Western society. Based on animal studies, however, concerns have been raised that consumption of isoflavonoids by infants and young children may be undesirable. Clover contains isoflavonoids and therefore may represent, via milk, a source of isoflavonoids in the human diet. In this study the concentrations of daidzein (7, 4'-dihydroxyisoflavone), genistein (5, 7, 4'-trihydroxyisoflavone) and equol (7-hydroxy-(4'-hydroxyphenyl)chroman) were measured using HPLC in cows' milk samples obtained from 76 farms in three Australian states. In addition, concentrations were measured in samples collected from one South Australian factory both before and after pasteurization. Concentrations in all samples were found to be extremely low. The mean daidzein concentration was < 5 ng/ml. Mean genistein concentrations ranged from just detectable (approximately 2 ng/ml) in Victorian samples collected during summer to 20-30 ng/ml in samples from all states collected during spring when isoflavonoid-containing clover is most dominant in pasture. Mean equol concentrations ranged from 45 +/- 10 ng/ml in Victorian farm samples collected during summer to 293 +/- 52 ng/ml in Western Australian samples collected in spring. The mean concentrations of genistein and equol in post-pasteurization samples collected in spring were approximately double those for samples collected in autumn. Pasteurization had no effect on isoflavonoid concentrations. We conclude that the concentrations of isoflavonoids in Australian cows' milk are low and are therefore unlikely to have any pronounced biological effects in human consumers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia
  • Cattle / metabolism*
  • Chromans / analysis
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Equol
  • Female
  • Flavonoids / analysis*
  • Genistein / analysis
  • Hot Temperature
  • Isoflavones / analysis
  • Milk / chemistry*
  • Seasons


  • 4',7-dihydroxy-3,4-dihydroisoflavone
  • Chromans
  • Flavonoids
  • Isoflavones
  • Equol
  • daidzein
  • Genistein