Ionspray mass spectrometry allowed the rapid detection and unambiguous identification of secoisolariciresinol diglucoside, an important mammalian lignan precursor occurring in flax seed. It was observed that this compound is embedded in a complex form, probably a complex glucoside of still undisclosed structure, among the polar solvent extractables of flax seed from which it could not be released as such without the intervention of alkaline methanolysis. Comparison of ionspray mass spectra of untreated and methanolysed flax-seed extracts confirmed methanolysis as the crucial step in setting up any further analytical or preparative procedure concerned with secoisolariciresinol diglucoside.
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