Safety

Although flavonoids may have potential health effects, the function of many of these compounds in the plant is to discourage attack by fungal parasites, herbivores, and pathogens. As a result, it is not surprising than many are toxic and mutagenic in cell culture systems, and excessive consumption by animals or humans may cause adverse metabolic reactions. However, the concentrations used in cell culture experiments in general tend to exceed the levels that are achievable in vivo following dietary consumption. Results of recent studies using fi-carotene supplements should reinforce the need to proceed with caution in using flavonoid supplements, where levels could easily exceed doses obtained from normal dietary intake. For the majority of the identified phytochemicals, there are limited data on the 'safe level' of intake or optimal level of intake for health benefits, and it is critical that these margins be more clearly defined in future research.

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