Can soy isoflavones help prevent osteoporosis? According to a recent meta-analysis published in Clinical Nutrition, the results for these phytoestrogens (estrogen-like compounds) look favorable. Researchers who evaluated the outcomes of 10 studies on the effects of soy isoflavones on bone health concluded that they may help prevent or slow osteoporosis in menopausal women. The combined data on more than 600 participants suggests that women who consumed isoflavones experienced a reduction in bone loss as well as an increase in mineral content in the spine of almost 1 gram more than those taking a placebo. The greatest benefits were observed when more than 90 mg soy isoflavones per day were consumed for a period of at least six months.
The same researchers found, in a previous review of nine studies and 432 subjects, that isoflavones inhibit the breakdown of bone while stimulating bone formation. The long-term effects of taking isoflavones, however, have not been established, so some caution may be advised. Consult with your health care practitioner before starting these or other supplements.