Are Isoflavone Supplements Effective?
There are hundreds of soy supplements on the market and a lot of questions remain about their effectiveness and safety. Most supplements consist of either isoflavones or soy protein or a combination of both.
Most important: not all products are created equal. There is conclusive evidence that supplements may not contain exactly what the label promises. Control studies of soy supplements have shown that most (over 75%) of the products contain not even 90% of the isoflavones that are promised on the label. And it does not matter how much you paid for them.
Dr. Rudy Madlang of BodyLogic, told us about , which he recommends. They carry several Soy supplement products.
All of their products are standardized supplements, meaning they follow a rigorous manufacturing process and you will get the amount of soy that is advertised on the label.
Some data does indicate to use whole soy products compared to soy Isoflavones for better and safer results. This can be done in the form of Edamame, Tofu or other whole soy products.
Revival Soy, a concentrated whole soy product in powder form, is recommended by Dr. Christiane Northrup. She is a big proponent of adding whole soy to your diet.
Health Benefits of Soy Menopause Supplements
Data about the effectiveness of soy supplements for menopause are mixed and confusing to say the least. Marketing efforts where very effective to sell women on the belief that they can naturally relieve symptoms of falling estrogen with isoflavones.
Isoflavones have weak estrogen-like effects in the body and it was believed that they should help with menopause symptoms. Some studies show clear benefits and others report no better results than placebo.
However most reliable studies show that isoflavones do no help with hot flashes and night sweats in any significant way. According to the majority of studies, menopausal women experienced only a moderate decrease in the frequency and intensity of these vasomotor symptoms.
Risks and Side Effects
There is some data that indicate health risks and side effects of these supplements. The safety of long-term (over 6 months) use of isoflavones has not been established. Evidence is mixed on whether using isoflavone supplements over time can increase the risk of a thickening of the endometrium.
Soy’s possible role in breast cancer risk is unclear. Some scientist belief that phytoestrogen, such as isoflavones, may have different effects on different kinds of cells. By blocking the body’s natural estrogen and replacing it with the weaker phytoestrogen, it might be preventing cancer.
On the other hand, soy proteins have been shown to stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells.
Until more is known about soy’s effect on estrogen levels, women who have (or who are at increased risk of) developing breast cancer or other hormone-sensitive conditions (such as ovarian or uterine cancer) should be particularly careful about using soy supplements and should discuss it with their health care providers.
Because most of these products contain highly concentrated isoflavones, people with certain conditions are warned to avoid them:
- Kidney disease: Soy products might increase the risk of kidney stones because they contain a chemical that is very similar to the substance of kidney stones. People with kidney disease may not be able to process some of the chemicals in soya, which increases their concentration to dangerous high levels. It is best for people with a history of kidney stones or kidney disease to avoid taking these supplements.
- Bladder cancer: Soy contains chemicals that might increase the chance of getting bladder cancer. If you have bladder cancer or a family history of bladder cancer avoid taking these supplements.
- Under-active thyroid (hypothyroidism): Because the effect of the isoflavones on the Thyroid hormone, people with hypothyroidism should avoid these supplements.
Our Conclusions about Soy Supplements
- Not every supplement is created equal. There is conclusive evidence that isoflavone supplements may not contain exactly what the label promises. Control studies have shown that most (over 75%) of the products contain not even 90% of the isoflavones as promised on the label. And it does not matter how much you paid for them.
- Some supplements have been found to contain some contaminants such as heavy metals etc. So be careful where you buy your soy and use only standardized supplements from reliable sources to get the best product.
- Personally, we prefer whole soy products rather than soy isoflavone supplements. Not only is there some data to suggest they are safer and more effective but it makes sense to us that we get the benefits of the whole thing – Isoflavones, dietary fiber and antioxidants. We believe that, as with so many other natural substances, the different active compounds in soy plus the fiber work together to produce beneficial effects.
The good news is that the popularity and controversy surrounding soy supplements have resulted in considerable clinical studies and research, giving rise to a wealth of scientific literature that validates soy’s health-promoting potential.