If you’re lactose intolerant and are having difficulty getting enough calcium in your diet, you may have another option to achieve better bone health. A recent study suggests that soy protein may help to promote increased bone density in older women.
This new study, published in the most recent issue of Osteoporosis International, looked at over four-hundred perimenopausal women and followed them for thirty months to assess the role soy plays in preventing osteoporosis. The women who consumed soy protein were found to have increased bone density relative to those who didn’t. This is consistent with several previous studies that have shown an increase in bone density related to soy protein consumption.
Although previous studies looking at the role of soy for better bone health have been inconsistent, a recent meta-analysis showed overall positive benefits for soy in terms of bone health. A 2005 study also found that women who consumed high doses of soy also cut their risk of fracture almost in half.
While soy may have the potential to promote an increase in bone density, the overall health effects of soy are still controversial. Some studies have shown soy may increase the risk of breast cancer, while the majority of studies have shown a reduction in risk. Soy also contains high amounts of phytic acid which can inhibit the absorption of some minerals, including iron, calcium, and magnesium. If you have a pre-existing thyroid condition, it’s believed by some experts that consuming soy could make it worse. For this reason, check with your doctor before adding soy to your diet if you have a history of breast cancer or thyroid disease.
If you’re reluctant to add soy to your diet for the benefit of increased bone density, it’s reassuring to know that the same study showed that being physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight are also key factors for better bone health. Getting fifteen minutes of direct sunlight on bare skin for fifteen minutes a day will ensure that you have adequate levels of vitamin D for building increased bone density. Avoiding cigarette smoking and altering your diet to include more fresh fruits and vegetables are also important for better bone health.
While most studies support the use of soy for increased bone density, it’s not necessarily for everyone and should be only a small part of a balanced plan for better bone health. Be sure to ask your doctor about whether a bone density study is recommended for you. This can help you determine what measures are needed to protect your bones from osteoporosis.