Calcium-Fortified Soymilk: Function and Health Benefits
Calcium is an essential element to human bones where 99% of total calcium in the body is found in teeth and bones. Calcium is absorbed by active transport and passive diffusion across the intestinal mucosa. Calcium deficiency can lead to disorders like osteoporosis. Calcium is present in dairy foods and calcium-fortified products, such as soymilk. With increasing allergies to milk proteins in the last 2 decades, calcium in the diet has been reduced, leading to calcium deficiency. Soymilk has therefore become an alternative to milk and its products. However, the amount of calcium in soymilk is low, and therefore the need for calcium fortification. Soy products have played an integral part in the Asian diet for many centuries. In the western diet soy products are used due to their protein content, but more importantly for the health benefits in the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, notably cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease. This chapter discusses the beneficial effects of soymilk in health and disease.