Research: Soy milk makes strong bones in piglets
Scientists are taking a close look at the effects that soy-based formula, cow's-milk formula, and mother's milk have on bone development in infants.
Very little is known about the short- and long-term effects of soy formula on bone health, but a series of studies funded by the Agricultural Research Service
(ARS) is helping to fill in the knowledge gap.
One early investigation provided a comprehensive comparison of bone formation in piglets that were fed either sow's milk, or soy or cow's-milk formula.
The scientists chose pigs as the animal model because the pig digestive system is generally regarded as being closest to that of humans.
In general, the work suggests that soy-formula-fed piglets may have the best quality bone, and that soy may enhance bone formation by directly affecting the BMP2 (short for "bone morphogenesis protein") signalling pathway.
Signalling, or messaging, initiated by BMP2 is essential for building and reforming of bone. This study was the first to spotlight soy's relative influence on initiating BMP2 signalling.
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