Aging induces a decrease in bone mass, and osteoporosis with its accompanying decrease in bone mass is widely recognized as a major public health problem. Bone loss with increasing age may be due to decreased bone formation and increased bone resorption. Pharmacologic and nutritional factors may prevent bone loss with aging, although chemical compounds in food and plants which act on bone metabolism are poorly understood. We have found that isoflavones (including genistein and daidzein), which are contained in soybeans, have a stimulatory effect on osteoblastic bone formation and an inhibitory effect on osteoclastic bone resorption, thereby increasing bone mass. Menaquinone-7, an analogue of vitamin K(2) which is abundant in fermented soybeans, has been demonstrated to stimulate osteoblastic bone formation and to inhibit osteoclastic bone resorption. Of various carotenoids, beta-cryptoxanthin, which is abundant in Satsuma mandarin (Citrus unchiu MARC), has a stimulatory effect on osteoblastic bone formation and an inhibitory effect on osteoclastic bone resorption. The supplementation of these factors has a preventive effect on bone loss induced by ovariectomy in rats, which are an animal model of osteoporosis, and their intake has been shown to have a stimulatory effect on bone mass in humans. Factors with an anabolic effect on bone metabolism were found in extracts obtained from wasabi leafstalk (Wasabi japonica MATSUM), the marine alga Sargassum horneri, and bee pollen Cistus ladaniferus. Phytocomponent p-hydroxycinnamic acid was also found to have an anabolic effect on bone metabolism. Food chemical factors thus play a role in bone health and may be important in the prevention of bone loss with increasing age.