Glycitein belongs to the isoflavone class of flavonoids. It is also classified as a phytoestrogen since it is a plant-derived nonsteroidal compound that possesses estrogen-like biological activity. Glycitein has been found to have weak estrogenic activity. It may also have antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, anti-atherogenic and anti-osteoporotic activities.
Glycitein is the aglycone of glycitin. The isoflavone is found naturally as the glycoside (glucoside) glycitin and as the glycosides 6"-0-malonylglycitin and 6"-0-acetylglycitin. Glycitein and its glycosides are mainly found in legumes, such as soybeans and chickpeas. Soybeans and soy foods are the major dietary sources of these substances. Glycitein glycosides are the least abundant of the isoflavones in soybeans and soy foods, where they comprise about 5 to 10% of the total isoflavones. However, in soy germ, glycitein glycosides comprise about 40% of the isoflavones.
Glycitein is a solid substance that is virtually insoluble in water. Glycitein, when marketed as a nutritional supplement, is mainly present in the form of its beta-glucoside, glycitin.
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