Can Soy Isoflavones help menopause
Updated: Aug 12
I've found soy isoflavones to be a crucial part of my menopause journey. They are a type of plant compound found in soybeans and soy-based foods, known to have a range of health benefits, including potentially reducing the symptoms of menopause, which we know is the natural process that occurs in women typically between the ages of 45 and 55, when our estrogen levels decline. This estrogen decline can lead to various symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, and mood changes, and whilst hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is one treatment option for these symptoms, it is not necessarily suitable for everyone due to potential risks and side effects. This is where isoflavones come into play, mainly sourced from soy.
Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens, meaning they have a structure similar to estrogen and can bind to estrogen receptors in the body, meaning they may help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause by providing a natural source of estrogen-like compounds. Indeed, several studies have investigated the effects of soy isoflavones on menopausal symptoms with one finding that women who consumed soy isoflavones reduced hot flashes significantly compared to a placebo group. Another study found that soy isoflavones reduced the frequency and severity of hot flashes, improving the overall quality of life in menopausal women. As a bonus, soy isoflavones may also provide us with a protective effect against bone loss and the risk of developing osteoporosis. Estrogen plays a crucial role in maintaining bone density with studies finding that soy isoflavones can help to slow down bone loss and improve bone health in menopausal women.
I should point out that soy isoflavones are not an estrogen replacement, and their effects on menopausal symptoms may not be as strong as HRT. Indeed, the effects of soy isoflavones on each woman's menopausal symptoms are likely to be different. However, it provides a natural alternative for women unable or unwilling to take HRT. In my personal journey, taking a daily soy supplement alleviated hot flushes and night sweats and kept the sometimes quite dramatic mood swings at bay. As I'm sure many will find familiar, sudden rages happen all too regularly with patience disappearing. And if you have children later in life, they certainly test that patience regularly. At times I was unrecognisable with my outbursts, so taking a soy supplement definitely helped keep the dragon in the cave!
The recommended daily intake of soy isoflavones varies depending on the source, but most studies advise a dose between 50-100 mg per day. Soy isoflavones can be found in soy milk, tofu, and soybeans, but if you're like me and find the taste of those products less than enjoyable, a soy-based supplement will provide the isoflavones too. I would just like to add that if you do consider increasing your soy intake, soy isoflavones are generally considered safe for most people, but anyone with a history of breast cancer or other estrogen-sensitive conditions should talk to their doctor before consuming soy products or supplements.
I'm a great advocate for high-quality supplements without unnecessary fillers and binders. You get to a certain age and begin caring about what you put into your body, so if I can avoid unnecessary ingredients, I will. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find completely clean supplements so it doesn't always work out, but I have found capsules, rather than pill form, tend to avoid these unnecessary ingredients. Again, that's not always the case though. Consequently, the soy supplements listed below are high quality and free of anything that's not required, such as titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide and maltodextrin, hence the rather short list! I have taken both of these which are basic soy isoflavone supplements, and would recommend either of them. I will be writing another article on combination supplements shortly. Of course, if I do source other soy supplements that meet the requirements, I'll add them here, so don't forget to subscribe!