Isoflavone-rich soy protein isolate attenuates bone loss in the lumbar spine of perimenopausal women

Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Sep;72(3):844-52. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/72.3.844.


Background: No published studies have directly examined the effect of soy protein with isoflavones on bone or bone turnover in perimenopausal women.

Objective: Our objective was to determine the effects of 24 wk of consumption of soy protein isolate with isoflavones (80.4 mg/d) in attenuating bone loss during the menopausal transition.

Design: Perimenopausal subjects were randomly assigned, double blind, to treatment: isoflavone-rich soy (SPI+; n = 24), isoflavone-poor soy (SPI-; n = 24), or whey (control; n = 21) protein. At baseline and posttreatment, lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) and bone mineral content (BMC) were measured by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. At baseline, midtreatment, and posttreatment, urinary N:-telopeptides and serum bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BAP) were measured.

Results: The percentage change in lumbar spine BMD and BMC, respectively, did not differ from zero in the SPI+ or SPI- groups, but loss occurred in the control group (-1.28%, P: = 0.0041; -1.73%, P: = 0.0037). By regression analysis, SPI+ treatment had a positive effect on change in BMD (5.6%; P: = 0.023) and BMC (10.1%; P: = 0.0032). Baseline BMD and BMC (P: < or = 0.0001) negatively affected the percentage change in their respective models; baseline body weight (P: = 0.0036) and bone-free lean weight (P: = 0.016) contributed positively to percentage change in BMD and BMC, respectively. Serum BAP posttreatment was negatively related to percentage change in BMD (P: = 0.0016) and BMC (P: = 0.019). Contrast coding using analyses of covariance with BMD or BMC as the outcome showed that isoflavones, not soy protein, exerted the effect.

Conclusion: Soy isoflavones attenuated bone loss from the lumbar spine in perimenopausal women.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Diet
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoflavones / pharmacology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / drug effects*
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteoporosis / prevention & control*
  • Osteoporosis, Postmenopausal / prevention & control
  • Patient Compliance
  • Premenopause*
  • Soybean Proteins / pharmacology*


  • Biomarkers
  • Isoflavones
  • Soybean Proteins