Dietary intake and bioavailability of polyphenols

Augustin Scalbert, Gary Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2933 Citations (Scopus)


The main dietary sources of polyphenols are reviewed, and the daily intake is calculated for a given diet containing some common fruits, vegetables and beverages. Phenolic acids account for about one third of the total intake and flavonoids account for the remaining two thirds. The most abundant flavonoids in the diet are flavanols (catechins plus proanthocyanidins), anthocyanins and their oxidation products. The main polyphenol dietary sources are fruit and beverages (fruit juice, wine, tea, coffee, chocolate and beer) and, to a lesser extent vegetables, dry legumes and cereals. The total intake is ~1 g/d. Large uncertainties remain due to the lack of comprehensive data on the content of some of the main polyphenol classes in food. Bioavailability studies in humans are discussed. The maximum concentration in plasma rarely exceeds 1 μM after the consumption of 10-100 mg of a single phenolic compound. However, the total plasma phenol concentration is probably higher due to the presence of metabolites formed in the body's tissues or by the colonic microflora. These metabolites are still largely unknown and not accounted for. Both chemical and biochemical factors that affect the absorption and metabolism of polyphenols are reviewed, with particular emphasis on flavonoid glycosides. A better understanding of these factors is essential to explain the large variations in bioavailability observed among polyphenols and among individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2073S-2085S
Number of pages13
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number8 SUPPL.
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Antioxidant
  • Bioavailability
  • Colonic microflora
  • Dietary intake
  • Flavonoid
  • Flavonoid glycoside
  • Glucosidase
  • Gut absorption
  • Metabolism
  • Phenolic acid
  • Polyphenol

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