Natural occurrence of steroid hormones

Natural occurrence of steroid hormones / Sonja Hartmann, Markus Lacorn, Hans Steinhart. - (Food Chemistry 62 (1998) 1 (May); p. 7-20)

  • DOI: 10.1016/S0308-8146(97)00150-7


The natural occurrence of the sex steroid hormones progesterone, testosterone, 17β-estradiol and estrone in food was investigated in a survey of the German market basket. The main metabolic precursors, intermediates and metabolites (pregnenolone, androstenedione, hydroxyprogesterone, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), dihydrotestosterone, androsterone, 17α-estradiol and estriol) were also included in the investigation. Particular attention was paid to DHEA, which is said to have anti-aging properties. Analysis was carried out by gas chromato-graphy-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The steroid patterns of pork, meat products, fish and poultry resemble those known for beef. Milk and milk products reflect the hormone profile of female cattle with high amounts of progesterone, which accumulates with increasing milk fat content. Milk products supply about 60–80% of ingested female sex steroids. Eggs are a considerable source of any of the investigated steroids and contribute to the nutritional hormone intake in the same order as meat and fish (10–20%). In vegetable food no estrogens could be detected. Plants supply testosterone in the same order as meat and milk products (20–40%) though. They contain considerable amounts of hormone precursors as well (contribution to DHEA supply: about 80%). In comparison to the human daily production of steroid hormones the nutritional supply (about 10 μgd−1 progesterone, 0.05 μg d−1 testosterone, 0.1 μg d−1 estrogens, 0.5 μg d−1 DHEA) is insignificant.

Original document


Research / Study
29 July 1998
Hartmann, Sonja
Lacorn, Markus
Steinhart, Hans
Other organisations
Universität Hamburg (UHH) - University of Hamburg
Analytical aspects
Mass spectrometry analysis
Doping classes
S1. Anabolic Agents
3α-hydroxy-5α-androstan-17-one (androsterone)
Androstenedione (androst-4-ene-3,17-dione)
Dihydrotestosterone (17β-hydroxy-5α-androstan-3-one)
Prasterone (dehydroepiandrosterone, DHEA, 3β-hydroxyandrost-5-en-17-one)
Food and/or drinks
Meat contamination
Document category
Scientific article
Document type
Pdf file
Date generated
23 August 2021
Date of last modification
26 August 2021
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