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Nutr J. 2005 Feb 23;4:8.

One year soy protein supplementation has positive effects on bone formation markers but not bone density in postmenopausal women.

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  • 1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078, USA.



Although soy protein and its isoflavones have been reported to reduce the risk of osteoporosis in peri- and post-menopausal women, most of these studies are of short duration (i.e. six months). The objective of this study was to examine if one year consumption of soy-containing foods (providing 25 g protein and 60 mg isoflavones) exerts beneficial effects on bone in postmenopausal women.


Eighty-seven eligible postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to consume soy or control foods daily for one year. Bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) of the whole body, lumbar (L1-L4), and total hip were measured using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry at baseline and after one year. Blood and urine markers of bone metabolism were also assessed.


Sixty-two subjects completed the one-year long study. Whole body and lumbar BMD and BMC were significantly decreased in both the soy and control groups. However, there were no significant changes in total hip BMD and BMC irrespective of treatment. Both treatments positively affected markers of bone formation as indicated by increased serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP) activity, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and osteocalcin (BSAP: 27.8 and 25.8%, IGF-I: 12.8 and 26.3%, osteocalcin: 95.2 and 103.4% for control and soy groups, respectively). Neither of the protein supplements had any effect on urinary deoxypyridinoline excretion, a marker of bone resorption.


Our findings suggest that although one year supplementation of 25 g protein per se positively modulated markers of bone formation, this amount of protein was unable to prevent lumbar and whole body bone loss in postmenopausal women.

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