Natto Osteopenia Osteoporosis Prevention

Natto Osteopenia, Osteoporosis

Natto is the name given to fermented soybeans. It is a dish favored in some parts of Japan and it turns out that it has some remarkable effects on the body.

It has long been known that it affects the blood. But recent studies are showing that this dish has a positive effect on bones. It appears to make them stronger and less subject to fracture. This could be important news for those with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis.

Here are some conclusions of scientific studies: one with premenopausal women with a genetic disposition for developing Osteopenia or Osteoporosis, another done with men and the third done with elderly women.

A. "Fermented soybeans is a traditional Japanese food. It contain more than 100 times as much vitamin K2 as various cheeses and it is thought 'to promote gamma-carboxylation.' It could play a preventive role in the development of osteopenia and osteoporosis."

Premenopausal women with a genetic disposition toward low bone density. A study published in the Journal Nutr Scientc Vitaminol in 2002 said that dietary intake is "associated with bone mineral density in premenopausal women."

This study found that when this food is included in the diet, it appeared to improve 'bone stiffness' in women whose genetic predisposition made for low affinity in Vitamin D receptors.

B. The Journal of Bone Mineral Metabolism published a study in 2000, "Intake of fermented soybean . . .increases circulating vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7) and gamma-carboxylated osteocalcin concentration in normal individuals." by Tsukamoto Y, Ichise H, Kakuda H, Yamaguchi M. Japan.

This study was conducted on men. It concluded that: "The present study suggests that intake of fermented soybean . . . increases serum levels of MK-7 and gamma-carboxylated osteocalcin in normal individuals.".

C. Researchers in Tokyo published a study "Japanese fermented soybean food as the major determinant of the large geographic difference in circulating levels of vitamin K2: possible implications for hip-fracture risk.".

The stated:

Increasing evidence indicates a significant role for vitamin K in bone metabolism and osteoporosis. In this study, we found a large geographic difference in serum vitamin K2 (menaquinone-7; MK-7) levels in postmenopausal women. Serum MK-7 concentrations were 5.26 +/- 6.13 ng/mL (mean +/- SD) in Japanese women in Tokyo, 1.22 +/- 1.85 in Japanese women in Hiroshima, and 0.37 +/- 0.20 in British women. We investigated the effect of Japanese fermented soybean food. . . on serum vitamin K levels. Natto contains a large amount of MK-7 and is eaten frequently in eastern (Tokyo) but seldom in western (Hiroshima) Japan. Serum concentrations of MK-7 were significantly higher in frequent natto eaters, and . . . intake resulted in a marked, sustained increase in serum MK-7 concentration.

We analyzed the relation between the regional difference in . . . intake and fracture incidence. A statistically significant inverse correlation was found between incidence of hip fractures in women and . . . consumption in each prefecture throughout Japan. These findings indicate that the large geographic difference in MK-7 levels may be ascribed, at least in part, to natto intake and suggest the possibility that higher MK-7 level resulting from . . consumption may contribute to the relatively lower fracture risk in Japanese women.

D. And finally, in 2006, the Journal of Nutrition published a study that concluded that: " Intake of fermented soybeans . . . is associated with reduced bone loss in postmenopausal women"

"Japanese fermented soybeans (natto in Japanese), which contain a large amount of menaquinone-7, may help prevent the development of osteoporosis. We assessed the possibility of an association between habitual natto intake and bone mineral density (BMD) and BMD change over time in healthy Japanese women who participated in a large representative cohort study (Japanese Population-based Osteoporosis Study: JPOS study).

The BMD was measured at the spine, hip, and forearm in 944 women (20-79 y old) at baseline and at a follow-up conducted 3 y later. Dietary natto intake was assessed by a FFQ on both occasions. Additional covariates including age, height, weight, lifestyle factors, dietary calcium intake, and the intake of other soybean products, were also measured. The total hip BMD at baseline increased (P for trend = 0.0034) with increasing habitual natto intake in the postmenopausal women, although this was not the case at other skeletal sites.

There were significant positive associations between natto intake and the rates of changes in BMD at the femoral neck (P < 0.0001) and at the distal third of the radius (P = 0.0002) in the postmenopausal women. The association in the femoral neck persisted even after adjusting for covariates. No significant association was observed between the intake of tofu or other soybean products and the rate of BMD change in the postmenopausal women. Natto intake may help prevent postmenopausal bone loss through the effects of menaquinone 7 or bioavailable isoflavones, which are more abundant in natto than in other soybean products."

Using the food or supplement

If you go to a Japanese restaurant or a Sushi bar, you are likely to be able to order this fermented soybean food.

Also there are many companies that now make it in a supplement. Those with Osteopenia or Osteoporosis interested in improved bone density should NOT use any of the supplements were the Vitamin K has been eliminated. Do read the labels carefully.

Cautions: Important. Please read these cautions.

Natto affects the blood coagulation. If you are taking any anticoagulant or blood thinner, you need to consult your health care provider before taking it in ANY form.

Also if you have a history of blood clots or ANY sort of bleeding disorder, you should consult your health care provider before using this supplement or food if it is not already part of your diet.

Please take these cautions seriously. I almost did not put this page on line because I am concerned that those not used to fermented soybeans or the supplement could develop negative health effects after using it. Please, please talk with your health care provider.

If you want to get specific information about supplements to discuss with your health care provider, you can find the contents of the major brands at Amazon; Natto Osteopenia, Osteoporosis Supplements


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Page revised: November 2011