Strontium Supplements for Osteoporosis
A New Super Mineral for Your Bones
Four landmark studies have been conducted in the last 5 years, uncovering amazing increases in bone mineral density with Strontium supplementation.1-6
What is Strontium?
Strontium is a common element which is naturally found in your bones. Studies show supplementation with Strontium in its various forms is well tolerated and completely safe. Strontium lies directly below calcium on the periodic table of elements and that makes calcium, strontium and magnesium all in the same chemical family. They are all naturally occurring metals found in the soil, in foods, and in your body.
As an alkaline earth element, strontium is similar to calcium in its absorption in the gut, incorporation in bone, and elimination from the body through the kidneys. Strontium is naturally present in trace amounts with around 100 micrograms in every gram of bone, so when you supplement with strontium you are simply making more of this element available for incorporation into your bone.
New Strontium Clinical Evidence on Bone
A 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests that Strontium ranelate may be at least as good a treatment for osteoporosis as currently available oral drug therapies including Fosamax (alendronate), Actonel, (risedronate), Evista (raloxifene ), and the injectable hormone Forteo (teriparatide).
Post-menopausal women normally lose about 1% of their bone per year, but the Strontium ranelate studies are showing 3 year bone growth of 8.1 %! These exciting results were published in large phase three study that followed two other very positive multinational strontium clinicals. In this most recent study, 1,649 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis who had had at least one vertebral fracture were randomized to receive either strontium ranelate or placebo for three years. Both groups also took calcium and vitamin D with the strontium to achieve these results.
Strontium Forms Compared
Strontium, like calcium and magnesium does not like to exist by itself, so it easily bonds with other materials to form stable salts like strontium carbonate, strontium ranelate, and strontium citrate.
Several forms of strontium are available, but strontium ranelate was used in most of the recent studies because it was a new form and hence patentable. Once patent protection is granted, it becomes cost effective for a drug company to invest in large clinical studies. Strontium ranelate has become a promising new prescription drug called Protelos®
A Non-Drug Strontium Product That Works
Several forms of strontium salt have been used in clinical studies and each strontium salt has had positive results for bone, so it appears that strontium is the active component, and not the carbonate, ranelate, lactate, or citrate part the strontium is attached to. The amount of strontium in the dose is important, however, so our Strontium Boost™ product is formulated to have the equivalent amount of elemental strontium (680 mg/day) as was used in the successful strontium ranelate trials. Clinical trials involving Strontium Boost™ have been completed and results are very encouraging with post menopausal women increasing bone density at six months. See the clinical evidence supporting Strontium Boost.
Strontium’s Double Benefit for Your Bones
Scientists have discovered Strontium has a unique method of action which provides a dual activity in your bones. Your bone cells are continuously growing and being re-absorbed at the same time; bone growth drugs or rock-based calcium effect only one side of the equation. Strontium inhibits bone resorption while simultaneously stimulating bone growth, an exciting double benefit. No other natural substance or drug is known to provide this dual effect.
History of Strontium Supplements
Strontium was studied in both animals and humans from the early 1950s to the early 1960s and was shown to have bone health properties. For example, in 1959, Mayo Clinic discussing a study involving strontium lactate for osteoporosis, reported “the therapeutic value of the drug appears to be established”. However, it promptly fell out of favor, perhaps because atomic bomb testing converted a lot of the natural strontium into a radioactive form called strontium-90. In spite of these encouraging early results, few studies were conducted until many years later.
In 1981, a McGill University study involving 142 patients took strontium carbonate or strontium gluconate in doses ranging from 100 mg to 1.5 grams per day demonstrating a dose/response relationship along with increasing bone mineral density for strontium.
In 1985, a small study pointed to a potential role for strontium in the treatment of humans. This time strontium carbonate was used with similar positive results to the strontium lactate used 30 years earlier. Three men and three women with osteoporosis were each given 600 to 700 mg/day of strontium. Bone biopsies were taken in each patient at the hip bone, before and after six months of treatment with strontium. Biopsy samples showed a 172 % increase in the rate of bone formation after strontium therapy, with no change in bone resorption. The patients receiving strontium remarked that the pains in their bones had diminished and their ability to move around had improved.
Several studies involving strontium chloride have been conducted involving dental applications throughout the 1980’s up to today showing benefits for reducing cavities and teeth sensitivity.
In the 1990’s animal studies involving strontium ranelate were common and from 2001 to 2007 the first human studies involving strontium ranelate have been reporting extraordinary results and safety.
Effects on Joints and Dental Carries
In one very recent study,7 researchers hypothesized that strontium might also improve cartilage metabolism. Strontium appears to help reduce dental carries according to a 10 year study sponsored by the US Navy, where residents of a small town had unusually high levels of strontium in the municipal water supply. More studies are required on joint health and dental carries to reach any conclusions. We will keep you posted as more information becomes available if you care to join our newsletter.
A Few Comments Regarding the Use of Strontium Supplements
Although strontium seems to be a remarkably safe supplement, please follow these guidelines to maximize its benefit:
- Strontium supplements need to be taken along with adequate calcium consumption. Animal studies suggest strontium is not effective and may even be counterproductive if your calcium intake is not normal.
- For best results, do not take strontium together with calcium because these two chemically similar minerals compete at the sites of absorption. In the above noted studies, strontium was administered first thing in the morning, half an hour to an hour before breakfast, or three hours after the last meal of the day; they took their calcium supplements separately, with a meal.
- It should not be used as a treatment in children since it may alter the architecture of rapidly growing bones. No studies have been done using high dose strontium on children.
- Strontium is not a “magic bullet” and a comprehensive approach to regaining bone strength is needed. Other natural modalities of bone support include calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin K2, and weight bearing exercise.
- McCaslin FE Jr, Janes JM. The effect of strontium lactate in the treatment of osteoporosis. Proc Staff Meetings Mayo Clin. 1959;34:329-334.
- Marie PJ, Skoryna SC, Pivon RJ, et al. Histomorphometry of bone changes in stable strontium therapy. In: Trace substances in environmental health XIX, edited by D.D. Hemphill, University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri, 1985, 193-208.
- Marie PJ, Hott M. Short-term effects of fluoride and strontium on bone formation and resorption in the mouse. Metabolism. 1986, 35:547-551
- Meunier PJ, Slosman DO, Delmas PD, et al. Strontium ranelate: dose-dependent effects in established postmenopausal vertebral osteoporosis: a 2-year randomized placebo controlled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(5):2060-2066.
- Meunier PJ, Roux C, Seeman E, et al. The effects of strontium ranelate on the risk of vertebral fracture in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:459-468.
- Reginster JY, et al. Strontium ranelate reduces fractures in osteoporotic women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005; 90(5):2816-2822.
- Nutr Rev 1983; 41:342-4
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