Osteoporosis makes the bones brittle and weak; this occurs when the rate of new bone deposition is slower than the process of old bone replacement leading to lower bone mass that results in fragile bones.
Osteoporosis prevalence in Indian women has been reported to range from 8-62% in diverse age groups. The higher incidences of Vitamin-D deficiency, low intake of calcium, early menopause, genetics, etc. have led to the high prevalence of osteoporosis in India.
Soy phytochemicals and osteoporosis
Soy well known for its protein content has been reported to have numerous health benefits like reducing the symptoms of menopause and lower the risk of osteoporosis.
Soy is rich in phytochemicals like isoflavones which act like the hormone oestrogen and are called as phytoestrogens. Apart, from these, various other phytochemicals present in soy are believed to be responsible for their health benefits.
Oestrogen is known for its role in supporting bone health, and in postmenopausal women, the oestrogen decline is associated with bone loss. Soy with its weak oestrogenic compounds has been investigated for its role in preventing bone loss and preventing osteoporosis.
The majority of the clinical investigation involving postmenopausal women and soy products have reported a positive effect of bone turnover and bone mineral density markers.
A study conducted in Italy with 389 postmenopausal women, who randomly received either placebo with calcium and vitamin D or 54 mg/day of soy isoflavone (genistein) with calcium and vitamin D. Genistein treatment in this study prevented bone loss and led to improvement in quantitative ultrasound parameters.
How soy works
The research believes that soy possibly prevents osteoporosis by increasing bone mineral density (BMD). The majority of the studies point that women nearing menopause who consumed isoflavone-rich soy protein are likely to experience a boost in their BMD than women whose diets lacked soy isoflavones. Few studies advocate that 80- 90 mg of isoflavones available in 40 g of soy protein will be beneficial.
Though several studies report positive benefits of soy isoflavones in supportive bone health, a large number of other studies also did not find any significant rises in BMD in early postmenopausal women.
Despite, some facts being clear about how soy or its products support bone health, further studies are required to decipher the optimal dietary pattern supportive of bone health across a woman’s lifespan.
If you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, consult your treatment options including the use of soy and its products with your doctor. If you are allergic to soy or its products, avoid using it.
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- Lanou AJ. Soy foods: are they useful for optimal bone health? Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Disease. 2011;3(6):293-300.
- Osteoporosis in Indians. Indian J Med Res. 2008; 127(3):263–268. Accessed on 23 Jan www.medind.nic.in/iby/t08/i3/ibyt08i3p263.pdf
- Epidemiology and treatment of osteoporosis in women: an Indian perspective. Int J Womens Health. 2015; 7: 841–850. Accessed on 23 Jan http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4621228/
- University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed on 23 Jan 2017. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/soy