Validation of soy isoflavone intake and its health effects: A review of the development of exposure biomarkers

Hwan Hee Jang, Young Min Lee, Jeong Sook Choe, Oran Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES: It is difficult to consistently demonstrate the health effects of soy isoflavones owing to the multitude of factors contributing to their bioavailability. To accurately verify these health effects, dietary isoflavone intake should be measured using a biologically active dose rather than an intake dose. This concept has been expanded to the development of new exposure biomarkers in nutrition research. This review aims to provide an overview of the development of exposure biomarkers and suggest a novel research strategy for identifying the health effects of soy isoflavone intake. MATERIALS/METHODS: We cover recent studies on the health effects of soy isoflavones focusing on isoflavone metabolites as exposure biomarkers. RESULTS: Compared to non-fermented soy foods, fermented soy foods cause an increased concentration of isoflavones in the biofluid immediately following ingestion. The correlation between exposure biomarkers in blood and urine and the food frequency questionnaire was slightly lower than that of corresponding 24-h dietary recalls. Urinary and blood isoflavone levels did not show a consistent association with chronic disease and cancer risk. CONCLUSION: It is crucial to understand the variable bioavailabilities of soy isoflavones, which may affect evaluations of soy isoflavone intake in health and disease. Further studies on the development of valid exposure biomarkers are needed to thoroughly investigate the health effects of isoflavone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition Research and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Korean Nutrition Society and the Korean Society of Community Nutrition.


  • Biological availability
  • Clinical study
  • Dietary exposure
  • Fermentation
  • Metabolomics
  • Soybeans


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