Strontium is a natural element that plays a vital role in your bone health.
Strontium’s benefits are unlike any other nutrient on Earth. Strontium works alongside calcium to increase bone density, while also slowing the rate of bone loss.
And the benefits don’t end there! Keep reading to see why natural strontium should be part of your daily bone health routine.
6 Science-Backed Benefits of Strontium
Now the great citrate/ranelate debate is sorted, let’s dive in! The most current research has revealed that strontium has six distinct benefits, including:
Increases Calcium Absorption
It’s well known that calcium is vital for strong bones. But it’s less well-known that strontium actually increases our ability to absorb calcium and let it get to work in our bones.
How? In several ways actually. Strontium boosts your ability to absorb calcium in multiple ways, including activating the calcium-sensing receptor, on your cells. The receptor detects the presence of calcium and increases its absorption.
In the kidneys, calcium-sensing receptors increase your reabsorption of calcium when levels in your blood drop too low. Instead of excreting it in your urine. In your bones, calcium-sensing receptors are found on osteoblasts (cells that build new bone). Strontium kick-starts osteoblasts, but not as much as calcium does. But recently, a new version of calcium-sensing receptor was identified in osteoblasts. And this one is activated only by strontium.
Boosts Bone Formation
Strontium boosts the rate at which new bone-building osteoblasts are formed and increases their survival. Strontium turns on genes that promote osteoblast cell replication and differentiation. That’s the processes of forming osteoblasts and maturing them to a working state. And it also increases the length of time these bone-building cells remain alive and on the job for us. In other words, strontium helps us produce more osteoblasts, helps them grow up faster and keeps them alive longer.
Additionally, strontium increases the rate of osteoid production. Osteoid is the unmineralized portion of bone. It forms as the last step before minerals are laid down to produce fully developed new bone. The mineralization process is a sort of graduation for the osteoid, going from basic mineral to full-blown bone.
Regulates Bone Breakdown
Strontium regulates the activity of RANKL and OPG, the key molecules that control our rate of bone resorption. Strontium inhibits RANKL (receptor activator of nuclear factor κB ligand), which activates osteoclasts and increases bone resorption. Strontium is also known to increase OPG (osteoprotegerin), which serves as a decoy for RANKL and slows bone resorption.
This is especially important for postmenopausal women. The menopausal transition causes levels of estrogen to drop. This results in a bone-destructive increase in RANKL production and a decrease in OPG.
Strontium further regulates bone breakdown by inhibiting osteoclast production and activity. Strontium inhibits osteoclasts’ ability to mature, reduces osteoclasts’ ability to adhere to bone and start the bone removal process, and increases the rate at which osteoclasts commit apoptosis (a suicide program cells initiate as they become dysfunctional).
It even slowed bone turnover in animal-based menopause simulation studies. Ovariectomies are used to simulate menopause in animals. The addition of strontium supplementation prevented the typical bone turnover increase that’s seen during menopause. This suggests strontium can help prevent the increased rate of bone turnover brought on by menopause.
Improves Resistance to Fracture
Strontium increases the formation of healthy bone which results in improved mechanical resistance to fracture.
Think of your bones like a tree branch. You can bend a tree branch to a certain point, where it snaps. Your bone works the same way. Strontium primarily deposits in the spongy inside part of newly forming bone, known as trabecular bone
The trabecular has a structure like honeycomb and offers flexibility to the overall bone. And the more flexible it is, the less likely a fracture is to occur.
Its bone-building benefits continue by improving the mineralization and formation of healthy bone crystals that are more stable and resistant to compression damage. Strontium also helps by increasing the number of bone-forming sites (osteoblast and osteoid surfaces).
May Prevent Bone Pain
Natural strontium may help prevent bone pain in patients with metastatic bone cancer. Supplementation with strontium has been shown to deposit the mineral in the bone lesions. This suggests the possibility of using strontium to mineralize areas in which cancer has caused bone loss. Which in turn may relieve bone pain.
Helps Restore Alkaline State
Strontium citrate has one more bone-friendly benefit. Citrate helps produce a more alkaline pH in the body. This is important because low-grade metabolic acidosis — an overly acidic pH caused by an ultra-high protein diet — is common among North Americans and promotes bone loss. Strontium, in the form of a strontium citrate supplement, will help you maintain a more alkaline pH. An alkaline pH also helps improve the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Plus it promotes good digestive health, which can help with proper absorption of vitamins and minerals.
Benefits of Citrate vs Ranelate
Like we discuss on our main strontium page, it’s essential for strontium to bond with other materials. So there are several forms of strontium that exist. These include strontium citrate, strontium ranelate, and a radioactive form called strontium-90. It’s essential for strontium to bind to something because it cannot exist on its own.
Strontium ranelate, an unnatural form of strontium, was created by a pharmaceutical company because it can be patented. When something is patented, the company that owns the patent is able to make a lot of money by being the exclusive distributor.
And naturally occurring strontium can’t be patented. Because of that fact, strontium ranelate has become the most common form of the element to be used in studies.
But that doesn’t mean that strontium ranelate is more effective than strontium citrate or other forms when it comes to bone health.
There have been many studies conducted to research the benefits of strontium that have used strontium citrate and other natural, unpatentable forms of strontium. All with promising results. In fact, natural versions of strontium have been shown to be just as, if not more effective as strontium ranelate and they don’t have any of the nasty side effects.
These natural strontium studies clearly demonstrate that it’s strontium that provides the benefit, not the carrier it’s bound to.
An animal-based study comparing strontium ranelate to strontium citrate found “no evidence to suggest that strontium ranelate has different or more beneficial effects on bone than any other strontium salt.”
The highly respected medical reference journal Annual Reports in Medicinal Chemistry echoed the study’s findings. It said, “the effects of the drug [strontium ranelate] on bone metabolism are dependent on the pharmacokinetics of strontium, not ranelic acid.”
What’s even more interesting is the percentage of elemental strontium in each form. Strontium ranelate is comprised of 27.8% strontium and 72.2% ranelic acid. Meanwhile, strontium citrate features a 31% elemental strontium and only 69% citrate. Given that strontium test results are tied to the strontium ion, citrate is your best option to reap its bone-building benefits.
The many benefits of strontium make it a great addition to your bone-health regime.
Strontium citrate, the supplemental version of the mineral, has no known side effects and is well tolerated by the majority of people. It’s an effective addition to calcium and has certainly proven itself worthy of a spot in your medicine cabinet.
There are several strontium citrate products on the market, but only AlgaeCal’s Strontium Boost has been clinically tested. When taken in combination with AlgaeCal Plus, Strontium Boost has been proven to halt bone loss and actually stimulate new bone growth. Together, AlgaeCal Plus and Strontium create our Bone Builder Pack — the heart and soul of the AlgaeCal product lineup.
The amount of strontium present in food isn’t super high. Especially compared to the amounts of some other minerals and vitamins you might find in food. But there are a few particularly strontium-rich foods to consider.