Soy benefits for menopause and bone loss

Some studies have shown potential benefits of soy as hormone replacement therapy during menopause.

They reported those Japanese women who regularly consume soy products report less frequent and fewer hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms than American and European women who do not eat soy products.

A 3-month clinical trial observed a beneficial effect of soy protein on the frequency of hot flushes in postmenopausal women.
Italian researchers found a significant decrease in the average number of hot flushes experienced by postmenopausal women taking 60 g of soy protein isolate daily for 12 weeks.

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the women taking soy experienced a 45% reduction in their daily hot flushes, compared with a 30% reduction in women taking a placebo.

The soy isoflavones are believed to bind at the estrogen receptors and act as mild agonists for estrogen in postmenopausal women, thus alleviating some menopausal symptoms experienced in estrogen deficiency.

The isoflavones in soy appear to inhibit bone resorption and benefit bone health in postmenopausal women. Estrogen is known to downregulate the activity of osteoclasts, thereby limiting bone resorption. The isoflavones in soy protein, acting as phytoestrogens, can bind to the estrogen receptors in bone tissue.

Animal studies reveal benefits of soy isoflavones, positive effect on bone density and counteract the effects of estrogen deficiency on bone. Ovariectomized rats normally experience bone loss due to their estrogen deficiency. However, when given either estradiol- or soy protein-containing isoflavones, these rats do not experience a loss in bone density.

It is also known that ipriflavone, a synthetic isoflavone, is successfully used as an estrogen replacement in menopausal women, as it increases bone mass in women with low bone density.
Recently, postmenopausal women who were consuming isoflavone-rich soy protein for 6 months were found to be protected against spinal bone loss.

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Soy foods (tofu, soy milk, soybeans, tempeh, and soy nuts) contain isoflavones (plantbased estrogens), which help minimize menopausal symptoms, offer protection against breast cancer, and improve bone health. Aim for two servings of these foods daily. It may take several weeks to notice benefits.

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