What is Strontium?
Strontium is a trace mineral found naturally in your body. Although strontium is often overlooked, it’s incredibly beneficial to your bones and is an important factor in your overall bone health!
You’ll find strontium in soil, water, and everyday foods like grains, beans, spinach, lettuce and celery.
Now, this special mineral is a close relative of both calcium and magnesium. So close, in fact, they belong to the same chemical family. Think of strontium as the middle child to big brother calcium and little sister magnesium.
Like calcium, 99% of the strontium in your body is found in your bones. They’re both absorbed in your gut, incorporated the same way into bone, and are both eliminated from your body through your kidneys.
Despite the importance of strontium, some people are wary of using a strontium supplement because of negative information they read about side effects. But the important thing to know is that there are several forms of strontium. And some are completely safe! So keep reading to discover everything you need to know about strontium and its different forms.
History of Strontium Supplements
Strontium was first discovered in 1808. But it wasn’t until the 1950s and ’60s that the mineral was studied in both animals and humans. Early tests using strontium lactate showed promise for the mineral’s bone health properties and potential as an osteoporosis treatment.
Unfortunately, the fallout from atom bomb testing, which began in 1945 with the Manhattan Project, produced a dangerous radioactive form of the mineral known as strontium-90. Confusion between the natural and radioactive forms was pervasive. As a result, natural strontium use fell out of favor and human-use testing fell by the wayside for decades.
Animal and human testing resumed in the mid-1980s, again with positive results. And interest was once again renewed in the early 2000s, and yet again in 2011 and 2016 with AlgaeCal’s bone studies.
What researchers found was that AlgaeCal’s Strontium Boost– which contains a natural form of strontium called strontium citrate– paired with AlgaeCal Plus –a unique, plant-based calcium supplement– produced incredible results.
Over the course of just six months, a human study with 216 male and female participants found those taking AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost not only stopped bone loss but actually gained 2% bone density ─ a landmark study. This study showed adults increased bone density in less than one year, but what about a longer period?
A second study of 172 female participants was conducted in 2016. It showed that women in their mid 60’s increased their bone density by an average of 7.3% over seven years – and it happened in a linear fashion with about 1% added per year. AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost were beneficial well beyond the six-month mark that the prior study showed. Plus, no adverse side effects or safety concerns were reported for the entire duration of either study.
Strontium Forms Compared
As we mentioned earlier, there are several forms of strontium.
See, like calcium and magnesium, strontium can’t exist by itself. So it bonds with other materials to form stable salts. These salts can be natural, like strontium carbonate, strontium sulfate, and strontium citrate which is used in strontium supplements.
Or, the strontium salts can be made in a laboratory with synthetic materials. The most common example of this is the drug strontium ranelate. And finally, there are the radioactive forms of strontium we discussed in the last section.
The key thing to understand about strontium forms is that natural strontium salts are completely safe when you take them at the right dosage (more on that in just a moment.) But strontium ranelate, the synthetic drug form of strontium can cause a whole host of adverse side effects. Below we outline the three main forms of strontium in more detail:
Natural Strontium Salts (Strontium Citrate)
There are several forms of naturally occurring strontium. But one of the most common– and the one used in strontium supplements– is strontium citrate.
Strontium citrate is just naturally occurring strontium (the kind you’ll find in soil, everyday foods and your bones) bound with harmless citric acid. Now, citric acid is natural too, and, as you may have guessed by the name, comes from citric fruits like lemons and oranges.
Because it’s a natural form of strontium, strontium citrate doesn’t cause any of the nasty side effects you may have read about strontium. (The side effects are related to strontium ranelate which we’ll cover in just a moment). In fact, no adverse effects have been reported in over 100 years of research on natural strontium salts like strontium citrate.
The side-effect free nature of strontium citrate is why we use it in our Strontium Boost. If you recall from “The History of Strontium Supplements” section of this page, our studies show the strontium citrate in Strontium Boost is completely safe and effective at building bone. We’ve carried out short-term and long-term studies up to seven years long. Not one of the participants that took part, and not one of the tens of thousands of people who use Strontium Boost every day, have ever reported any adverse side effects or safety issues.
Strontium Ranelate (Drug)
Strontium ranelate is a prescription drug sold under the brand name Protelos. The reason strontium ranelate is sold under a brand name, is because it’s a chemical drug form of strontium. See, natural strontium salts can’t be patented. But laboratory-made, synthetic versions can.
So when studies started to revisit strontium as a potential bone-health aid in the early 2000s, a French pharmaceutical company called Servier developed and patented a drug version of strontium (Protelos) to cash in on the renewed interest.
But strontium ranelate is the form of strontium you may have read worrying information about!
Strontium ranelate has been associated with an increased risk of heart attack and blood clots. What’s more, common side effects of strontium ranelate include:
Plus, rarer side effects of strontium ranelate include the following, potentially deadly conditions:
- DRESS syndrome (Drug Rash with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms.)
- Venous thromboembolism
All these side effects are attributed to the ranelic acid in strontium ranelate.
For these reasons, strontium ranelate is not, and never has been, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). That means strontium ranelate is not available in Canada or the United States. So even if you wanted to purchase strontium ranelate (which you wouldn’t), you couldn’t if you live in Canada or the United States.
In fact, strontium ranelate was previously widely available in Europe and Asia, but it’s becoming more and more restricted in these continents too as safety concerns continue to grow.
Natural strontium citrate in supplement form, on the other hand, is freely available all over the world. And it has no safety issues or side effects like the drug version of strontium either.
The problem with strontium is that people often confuse the natural forms with the unnatural strontium ranelate form. You may even have been advised to steer clear of strontium by your doctor. Unfortunately, this is a case of mistaken identity. Any doctor that advises against using strontium is usually mistaking the natural strontium salts for the strontium ranelate drug and erring on the side of caution.
If your doctor has advised you against taking a strontium supplement, we have a handy, printable information sheet you can show them. Our sheet explains the safety and efficacy of the strontium citrate in our Strontium Boost and how it’s different to the drug version of strontium. You can check out the “Take It To Your Doctor” information sheet by clicking here.
Two forms of radioactive strontium exist, but neither is used in strontium supplements.
Strontium 89 and 90 are the result of nuclear fusion fallout and are considered unstable, but strontium 90 is particularly dangerous. Strontium 90 is found in soil, although generally in small quantities.
Strontium 89 has been used therapeutically to treat metastatic cancer. But it can damage bone marrow and act as a potential carcinogen itself at high doses.
Radioactive strontium isotopes (85Sr and 89 Sr) are also used as delivery agents for chemotherapy drugs and for diagnostic purposes in kinetic studies. (Kinetics is the study of the rate at which chemical processes occur.
When an element becomes associated with atomic bomb fallout, it’s understandable that it might get a bad reputation. But unfortunately, those misconceptions have prevented people from using the natural, safe form of strontium for far too long.
And when it comes to studies on strontium and its bone-building properties, it’s true that most are conducted using strontium ranelate. But remember, because strontium ranelate is a synthetic drug form of strontium, it’s patented. And that means that there’s a lot of financial gain for the patent holder if studies show it’s effective, so they’ll pay large sums of money to sponsor the studies.
The bottom line is that the studies do show strontium ranelate can have a positive impact on bone health, but the long list of worrying side effects are just not worth any potential benefit. What’s more, there are studies– like our very own studies – that show natural strontium salts are extremely beneficial for your bones. Plus, they don’t have any adverse side effects.
Strontium can do something no other mineral in the world can…
It’s true! See, strontium slows down the rate that your bone is broken down AND stimulates the rate of new bone growth too!
Now, traditional bone-growth drugs and rock-based calcium can only slow the rate of bone loss. That’s why strontium– in its safe strontium citrate form– is such an important part of the bone health puzzle.
And that’s just the start of strontiums benefits. To discover six more, check out our “Strontium Benefits” page.
Strontium Side Effects
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding strontium and potential side effects.
Hopefully, this page has proved useful and has helped shed some light on the vast difference between safe, natural strontium citrate and the synthetic strontium ranelate and its long list of side effects.
But if you’d like to read more about strontium and common misconceptions– including that strontium can skew DEXA scan results– check out our “Strontium Side Effects Are Overblown– Get The Facts” post by our resident Bone Health Expert, Lara Pizzorno.
As we mentioned earlier, strontium is present in various food sources. But because strontium is a trace mineral, the levels in food are usually low.
To find out how to incorporate strontium into your diet effectively, check out our “Strontium-Rich Foods” page.
How to Get The Most Out Of Your Strontium Supplement
Strontium citrate is completely natural, safe, and effective. However, to maximize the benefit of your strontium citrate supplement, it’s recommended you follow these guidelines:
Take 680 mg of strontium citrate. If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, you’ll get the most benefit from a 680 mg per day dose of strontium citrate. This is the dose that has been used in the majority of human research conducted on stable strontium salts. It also happens to be the same dose provided in two capsules of Strontium Boost.
Separate calcium and strontium intake by at least two hours. Calcium and strontium are chemically similar minerals that compete for absorption, so scheduling supplementation will ensure this doesn’t happen. We recommend taking two capsules of AlgaeCal Plus at breakfast and two capsules at lunch. Then, two capsules of Strontium Boost on an empty stomach before bed. To make things a little easier for you, we’ve got a free printable PDF on “How to Take AlgaeCal Products.”
Limit processed food consumption. Phosphate significantly lowers strontium absorption. Phosphate additives are used in most processed foods as preservatives, so read those labels! They can be found in sodas, sweet bakery products, cereals, crackers, pizza, cured meats, poultry, processed vegetables, egg products, candy, and chocolate.
Include all essential bone-building nutrients. Strontium is not a “magic bullet.” Your bones require 13 essential minerals (one of which is strontium) and 3 vitamins. These include calcium, magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamin K2, vitamin C, boron and a host of other trace minerals. AlgaeCal has taken all of this into consideration, which is why our Bone Builder Pack (AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium Boost) provides everything you need to support strong, healthy bones..
Strontium shouldn’t be used as a treatment for children. It may alter the architecture of rapidly growing bones. Also, no studies have been done using high dose strontium on children.
Safely and Naturally Reclaim Your Bone Density with Strontium
The key takeaway here is the difference between safe, natural strontium citrate in supplements and the synthetic strontium ranelate drug and its long list of side effects.
When you use a natural form of strontium, like our Strontium Boost supplement, you’re giving your bones a mineral they crave. And you’re doing it without the risk of any nasty side effects. Plus, when you partner Strontium Boost with AlgaeCal Plus, you’re guaranteed to increase your bone density safely and naturally in as little as six months.
Our clinical human trials show that taking AlgaeCal Plus in combination with Strontium Boost (our Bone Builder Pack) increases bone density in six months by more than 2% on average.
What’s even more impressive is that those gains continue for years. Our seven-year study found the Bone Builder Pack improves bone density annually by 1% with no limit on how long you can take either product.
The bottom line? Strontium Boost is natural, safe and scientifically proven to increase bone density when you take it with AlgaeCal Plus.