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J Nutr. 2001 Jun;131(6):1731-7.

Catechins are bioavailable in men and women drinking black tea throughout the day.

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  • 1Analytical Sciences, Incorporated, Statistics and Public Health Research, Durham, NC 27713, USA. bwarden@asciences.com


Tea consumption has been associated with reduced risk of both cancer and cardiovascular disease in population studies, but clinical data demonstrating bioavailability of the individual catechins and other polyphenolic components of tea are limited. This study assessed the apparent bioavailability of the prominent catechins from black tea in humans drinking tea throughout the day. After 5 d of consuming a low flavonoid diet, subjects drank a black tea preparation containing 15.48, 36.54, 16.74, and 31.14 mg of (-)-epigallocatechin (EGC), (-)-epicatechin (EC), (-)-epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and (-)-epicatechin gallate (ECG), respectively, at four time points (0, 2, 4 and 6 h). Blood, urine and fecal specimens were collected over a 24- to 72-h period and catechins were quantified by HPLC with coularray detection. Plasma concentrations of EGC, EC and EGCG increased significantly relative to baseline (P < 0.05). Plasma EGC, EC and EGCG peaked after 5 h, whereas ECG peaked at 24 h. Urinary excretion of EGC and EC, which peaked at 5 h, was increased relative to baseline amounts (P < 0.05) and fecal excretion of all four catechins was increased relative to baseline (P < 0.05). Approximately 1.68% of ingested catechins were present in the plasma, urine and feces, and the apparent bioavailability of the gallated catechins was lower than the nongallated forms. Thus, catechins were bioavailable. However, unless they are rapidly metabolized or sequestered, the catechins appeared to be absorbed in amounts that were small relative to intake.

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