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Can Soy Benefit Our Bones?

Jul 11, 2008
Although many Americans suffer from the chronic disease known as Osteoporosis, the fact of the matter is over 80% of those diagnosed are women. There are several types of osteoporosis, the most common is called postmenopausal osteoporosis.

Because women's estrogen levels drop around the time of menopause, bone density is affected. Usually women between the ages of 50 to 75 are most affected. However, bone density loss can occur earlier or later. Studies show that women can lose up to 20% of their bone density and bone mass within the first 5-7 years following menopause.

The Cost of Osteoporosis

This disease takes a great toll on the body. Many women suffer with chronic pain and this disease accounts for over 1.5 million fractures each year; the majority of fractures involve the vertebrae or spine area. Many times death can even be associated with this disease. Approximately 24% of all people over the age of 50 who fracture their hip will die within one year.

Some Great Soy Results

In a study, at the Shanghai Women's Health Study, of 75,000 Chinese women aged 40 to 70, scientists concluded that higher intakes of soy protein was associated with lower risk of fracture. More specifically, women who were given two cups of soymilk per day for the first ten years following menopause saw an even better reduction in bone density loss and fractures.

Other Asian studies have generally shown that soy intake is positively associated with higher bone mineral density (BMD). Currently the US government is conducting their own studies regarding the affects of soy intake on bone density and skeletal make-up.

The Role of Isoflavones

Although some soybeans and soy products do contain calcium, the concentration has been focused on the estrogen-like substance called isoflavones found in soybeans. Isoflavone studies have concluded that Japanese women eating a higher amount of isoflavones than their counterparts have higher bone density rates. Not only do isoflavones reduce the common lowering of bone density in post-menopausal women, but they also build bone mass.

In 2000, the nonprofit organization known as North American Menopause Society (NAMS) issued a consensus on the matter of soy products and its health benefits to women. The statement addressed the potential benefits of isoflavones on conditions associated with menopause. The society reported the following quantities and amounts of isoflavones may have health benefits for postmenopausal women:

* 50 milligrams per day to reduce cholesterol
* 40 to 80 milligrams per day to strengthen blood vessels and improve blood pressure
* 50 milligrams per day for bone health
* 40 to 80 milligrams per day to reduce hot flashes and night sweats

For those of you wondering how much isoflavone is in your favorite soy products, please see the information below:

* 1 cup of soy milk has 40 milligrams of isoflavone
* 4 ounces of tofu have 40 milligrams of isoflavone
* Textured soy protein has 35 milligrams for every 1/2 cup
* Soy flour has 25 milligrams of isoflavone for every 1/2 cup
* Both 4 ounces of tempeh and 1/2 cup of miso have approximately 40 milligrams of isoflavone

So as you see, it doesn't take a lot of soy to help those bones!
About the Author
Dee Overly is a mother who discovered the health benefits of soy milk and now sells a Soymilk Maker at www.SoymilkCrossroads.com. Stop by and pick your free Vegan recipe book and check out the blog.
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