Header for Osteoporosis Digest

Osteoporosis And Strontium: Is It The New Magic Bullet?

Research shows that strontium can increase bone density 8%-14%. One pharmaceutical company claims that it will “fundamentally change the treatment paradigm of patients with osteoporosis.”

Is strontium the new magic bullet in osteoporosis treatment?

Puritan's Pride sells strontium at the most attractive price we could find on the internet... as well as the calcium, magnesium and vitamin D to support it.

If you would like to view comments about strontium citrate, please visit our Strontium Forum.

WHAT IS STRONTIUM?

Strontium is one of the most abundant elements on earth, comprising about 0.04 percent of the earth’s crust. In fact, there is more strontium in the earth’s crust than carbon. It is also the most abundant trace element in seawater... and the human body contains about 320 mg of strontium, nearly all of which is in bone and connective tissue.

The stable form of strontium should not be confused with a radioactive form (strontium-90) which is produced by nuclear reactors or the detonation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear testing in the 1950’s resulted in widespread contamination of the environment, food supplies and dairy products which resulted in the public perception that strontium is a dangerous substance.

WHY THE EXCITEMENT ABOUT STRONTIUM?

Strontium is the only element that has been found to work as a “dual-acting bone agent”. Not only does it reduce the rate of bone turnover but it also helps to build new bone of high quality. Research conducted for pharmaceutical companies (with more than 5,000 women over three years) has revealed improvements in bone density of 8-14%. While the studies were conducted on a patented version of strontium (strontium ranelate) there is no evidence to show that prescription strontium outperforms strontium-citrate which can be purchased in health food stores for approximately $120 a year.

SO WHAT IS THE CATCH?

Strontium is only effective when taken with 1,500 mg of calcium and 800 IUs of vitamin D... and this is where things become tricky. Calcium is absorbed best when taken in increments of 500 mg- preferably with meals and at least four hours apart. Strontium is best taken on an empty stomach before going to bed and definitely shouldn’t be taken with calcium. Calcium can reduce the bioavailability of strontium by 60-70%.

Sound complicated? Despite the very attractive improvements in bone density offered by treatment with strontium... many people are discouraged by the demanding regimen and the length of time it takes to improve their bone health.

PEOPLE DON’T TAKE THEIR MEDS!

In 2005, a study involving 10,566 women showed that few people persisted with their osteoporosis medication beyond 12 months and most showed a rapid decrease in compliance within three months. The study also showed that poor compliance was fairly consistent across different medications. Persistence at 12 months was as follows:

  • Alendronate (Fosamax): 23%
  • Risedronate (Actonel): 19.4%
  • Raloxifene (Evista): 16.2%

Compliance was only slightly better in a separate study of 2,741 women which showed persistence values of 32% for daily bisphosphonates and 44% for weekly bisphosphonates.

Osteoporosis develops slowly (that is why it is called the silent killer) and it also improves slowly over a two to three year period. Most people appear to lose interest in their medication when there are few tangible signs of improvement and they have not yet experienced a fracture.

STRONTIUM FOR THE STRONG... AND THE SOON TO BE STRONGER

The good news is that approximately 20-30% of people will persist with their bone health program. And for those people... strontium-citrate provides an attractive alternative to prescription medication. A DXA scan should reveal impressive improvements in bone density within 2-3 years.

Following are some guidelines to help produce those results:

  • Strontium should only be taken on an empty stomach, preferably before going to bed.
  • Take your strontium supplement 2-3 hours after your last meal and after your last calcium supplement.
  • Calcium can reduce the bioavailability of strontium by 60-70%
  • Strontium is only effective in combination with 1,500 mg calcium and 800 IUs of vitamin D
  • Take calcium supplements in 500 mg increments with your meals, throughout the day
  • Vitamin D supplements can be taken any time as they do not interfere with strontium absorption
  • Exercise! It's good for your bones and you will feel better too.

STRONTIUM SAFETY

While 700 mg of strontium daily appears to be safe for most people, individuals with the following disorders should avoid both natural and prescription forms of the mineral:

  • Decreased kidney function
  • History of blood clots in the veins (venous thromboembolism, e.g., deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism)
  • Blood disorders that increase the risk of blood clots in the veins, e.g. antiphospholipid syndrome, factor V Leiden.(Tests performed on strontium ranelate indicated that strontium may slightly increase the incidence of blood clots.)

Strontium should also not be taken by:

  • Children
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • People taking antibiotics such as quinolones or oral tetracyclines as strontium may reduce their absorption. (These drugs are commonly used for acne and rosacea but may also be used for chlamydia, typhus, syphilis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Lyme disease and Legionnaires’ disease... among others)

References

1. Bocuzzi SJ, Foltz SH, Omar MA, Kahler KH, Gutierrez B. Adherence and persistence associated with the pharmacologic treatment of osteoporosis. Osteoporos Int. 2005;16(suppl 3):S24. (Abstract P129)

2. Cramer JA, Amonkar MM, Hebborn A, Suppapanya N. Bisphosphonate dosing influences treatment adherence in postmenopausal women. Osteoporos Int. 2005;16(suppl 3):S3. (Abstract OC11)

A complete strontium treatment program can be purchased for less than $200 USD a year by combining Strontium Bone Maker (strontium citrate) with Puritan's Pride Bone Care which provides all the calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K recommended for an effective bone building program.

Additional vitamin D is recommended for people who have limited exposure to sunshine or live in northern climates.

For more information on how osteoporosis and strontium are addressed within a natural bone building program... visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.