Osteoporosis Prevention

The clinical data suggest that approximately 80 mg/day isoflavones are needed to derive skeletal benefits, whereas limited epidemiologic data among Asian populations generally suggests that lower amounts are efficacious (Messina et al 2004). The relationship between usual soy food consumption and fracture incidence was studied in 24,403 postmenopausal women aged 40-70 years who had no history of fracture or cancer in the Shanghai Women's Health Study. During a mean follow-up of 4.5 years a statistically significant association was found between soy or isoflavone consumption and fracture risk, with the association being more pronounced among women in early menopause (Zhang et al 2005).

A recent systematic review found 31 studies that evaluated the effect of soy on markers of bone health; however, few of these were long term studies and they involved a wide variety of interventions making overall conclusions difficult. Of the 5 studies longer than 1 year, no consistent effect was seen on BMD or makers of bone formation (Balk et al 2005). Another systematic review that evaluated 15 clinical trials looking at the effects of isoflavones or isoflavone-rich soy protein on BMD suggests that isoflavones reduce bone loss in younger postmenopausal women (Messina et al 2004).

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