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J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Oct;21(5):388-93.

Soy isoflavones: no effects on bone mineral content and bone mineral density in healthy, menstruating young adult women after one year.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Schools of Public Health and Medicine, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA.



The effects of isoflavone-enriched soy protein on human bone mineral content (mass) and density in healthy, menstruating young adult females have not been examined in a comparative prospective investigation. Peri- and post-menopausal women have been reported to show beneficial effects of isoflavones on bone measurements. Therefore, young women may also be able to improve their accrual of peak bone mineral content (BMC) and bone mineral density (BMD) during the early adult years of bone consolidation with an isoflavone-enriched diet.


In this controlled, double-blind intervention, we tested the hypothesis that an isoflavone-rich soy protein diet increases BMC and BMD in young adult females over a period of one year in comparison to a control group receiving soy protein that has isoflavones removed.


Young healthy women of any ethnic background, 21 to 25 years of age, were divided into two groups, placebo (n = 13) and supplement (n = 15). The soy protein supplement was enriched with isoflavones ( approximately 90 mg of total isoflavones/day), whereas the control protein diet was isoflavone-deficient, even though it contained the same amount of soy protein and other ingredients as the isoflavone-rich diet. Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometric (DXA) measurements of BMC and BMD were made at baseline and at 6 and 12 months. DXA estimates of body composition, including fat mass and lean body mass, were generated from whole-body BMC measurements. BMI was calculated as weight (kg) over height (m) squared. Physical activity was assessed, and three-day dietary records were taken at entry (baseline) and at 6 and 12 months.


No changes in BMD after 12 months were found in either the isoflavone-treated (treatment) group or the isoflavone-deficient (control) group. Other variables also remained essentially constant over the 12-month period, including normal menstrual patterns in both the treatment and control groups.


The isoflavone-rich soy preparation had no effects on BMC and BMD over a 12-month period in young healthy adult females with normal menses. An isoflavone-rich supplement appears to have little or no effect on bone in young adult women with normal ovarian function, at least over this 12-month study period.

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