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FEBS Lett. 1997 Nov 24;418(1-2):152-6.

Relative bioavailability of the antioxidant flavonoid quercetin from various foods in man.

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DLO-State Institute for Quality Control of Agricultural Products (RIKILT-DLO), Wageningen, The Netherlands.


Quercetin is a strong antioxidant and a major dietary flavonoid. Epidemiological studies suggest that consumption of quercetin protects against cardiovascular disease, but its absorption in man is controversial. We fed nine subjects a single large dose of onions, which contain glucose conjugates of quercetin, apples, which contain both glucose and non-glucose quercetin glycosides, or pure quercetin-3-rutinoside, the major quercetin glycoside in tea. Plasma levels were then measured over 36 h. Bioavailability of quercetin from apples and of pure quercetin rutinoside was both 30% relative to onions. Peak levels were achieved less than 0.7 h after ingestion of onions, 2.5 h after apples and 9 h after the rutinoside. Half-lives of elimination were 28 h for onions and 23 h for apples. We conclude that conjugation with glucose enhances absorption from the small gut. Because of the long half-lives of elimination, repeated consumption of quercetin-containing foods will cause accumulation of quercetin in blood.

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