Strontium For Osteoporosis: Key Element In A Natural Treatment Program
Research has shown that the use of strontium for osteoporosis treatment can improve bone density 8%-14% when taken with sufficient calcium and vitamin D.
There is no evidence that prescription strontium is better than strontium supplements found in a health food store.
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.
To view comments about strontium citrate from other site visitors, visit our strontium citrate and strontium ranelate page.
What Is Strontium?
The use of strontium for osteoporosis treatment is attracting a lot of attention both because of its effectiveness and also because it 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. The human body contains about 320 mg of strontium, nearly all of which is in bone and connective tissue.
Strontium for osteoporosis treatment was first listed in Squire's Companion to the British Pharma-copoiea in 1884 and was listed in the Dispensatory of the United States of America as late as 1955.
For decades in the first half of the twentieth century, strontium salts were administered in dosages of 200 to 400 mg/day to assist with bone health. This compares with a typical diet which will have 1 to 3 mg/day of strontium.
Foods high in strontium include fish, whole grains, kale, parsley, lettuce, Brazil nuts, and molasses.
The stable form of strontium for osteoporosis treatment 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 1950s 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?
Most current osteoporosis medications are antiresorptive. They prevent bone breakdown by osteoclasts, thereby allowing osteoblasts to form bone, which leads to a net increase in bone mineral density (BMD).
Strontium acts as a "dual-acting bone agent" by simultaneously increasing bone formation and reducing bone resorption. These two actions lead to a rebalance of bone turnover in favour of bone formation in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis.
Research by pharmaceutical companies has confirmed the value of strontium for osteoporosis treatment of postmenopausal women and has led to the creation of a prescription drug which has been approved in Europe and is pending approval in Canada and the U.S.
Strontium cannot be patented because it is a natural mineral... so pharmaceutical companies have created synthetic binding agents that allow the mineral to be transformed into a prescription drug.
The French company Servier markets strontium ranelate under the brand name Protelos in Europe and Protos in Australia and is currently waiting for approval of the drug in Canada the U.S. (It withdrew its application in Canada in 2009.)
In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepted Osteologix's (an American company) Investigational New Drug (IND) application for strontium malonate, which it has temporarily named NB S101. Osteologix is now proceeding with phase III trials of its formula.
Earlier research on strontium for osteoporosis indicates that it is the mineral itself that provides the bone building benefits. So there is significant controversy over whether the new prescription drugs provide benefits beyond those available with readily available strontium supplements.
Strontium In Dietary Supplements
In the USA and Canada strontium for osteoporosis treatment is available as a dietary supplement, usually in the form of strontium citrate. Most supplements provide 300 to 350 mg per tablet of strontium and recommend two pills a day to add a dose of strontium similar to that used in studies of strontium ranelate.
These natural compounds were approved as supplements in the United States under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994... and are often recommended by health practitioners for the treatment of osteoporosis.
Guidelines For Taking Strontium For Osteoporosis
Do not take strontium through a bone-building supplement that includes calcium, as calcium reduces the bioavailability of strontium by 60-70%.
Strontium for osteoporosis treatment will only be effective if taken correctly.
- Strontium should NOT be taken with meals or a calcium supplement, as calcium can reduce the bioavailability of strontium by 60-70%.
- Allow at least two hours between a calcium supplement and strontium intake.
- Strontium for osteoporosis treatment has only proven effective with the daily intake of 1,500 mg calcium and 800 IU vitamin D.
- An effective bone health program will not only include calcium and vitamin D but also vitamin K2, magnesium and lots of exercise.
- Vitamin D does not interfere with strontium absorption.
This regimen is much more demanding than taking a single pill daily or weekly... and lack of compliance will undermine the effectiveness of the strontium for osteoporosis treatment.
In the two European studies on strontium ranelate there was little difference in side effects between the patients receiving strontium ranelate and the placebo groups that were not receiving strontium.
The most common side effects included nausea, diarrhea, headaches and eczema but with only 2-4% increase compared with the placebo group.
Most of the side effects subsided in 3 months. This result is consistent with earlier research on strontium using natural supplements.
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 for osteoporosis treatment should not be taken by:
- 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)
The approximate annual cost of strontium for osteoporosis treatment is:
- Strontium supplements (680 mg/day): $100 USD
- Prescription strontium (Protelos): $430 USD-not including doctor and prescription fees
This compares to the annual cost of osteoporosis medication as follows:
- Alendronate (generic Fosamax):$400 USD
- Risedronate (5 mg Actonel): $840 USD
- Raloxifene (Evista): $670-$850 USD
- Etidronate (generic Didronel): $150-200 USD (6 month supply)
- Zoledronic Acid (Aclasta/Reclast): $984 USD
More About Strontium
The French pharmaceutical company Servier found that the bioavailability of strontium ranelate is about 25% (range 19-27%) after an oral dose of 2 g. The American company Osteologix claims to have superior absorption with its product strontium malonate.
Strontium assists with the development of high quality bone tissue. Research found that strontium treatment increased bone mass, bone dimension, microarchitecture and intrinsic bone tissue quality.
A 2009 study in Denmark found that there was significant retention of strontium after treatment was completed... especially if a person had taken strontium for eight years. It concluded its findings as follows:
"According to the power function model the skeletal retention three and six months after stopping the treatment would average 66% and 58%, respectively after three years of treatment, and 76% and 70%, respectively after eight years of treatment. However, individual predictions are uncertain due to large inter-individual variations, and the values cannot be extrapolated to other bone sites."
(Barenholdt O, Kolthoff N, Nielsen SP "Effect of long-term treatment with strontium ranelate on bone strontium content." Bone Unit, Department of Clinical Physiology, Hillerød Hospital, DK-3400 Hillerød, Denmark. Bone 2009 Aug;45(2):200-6. Epub 2009 Apr 17 (PMID: 19376283)
Impact On Bone Tests
As strontium is heavier than calcium and remains in the bones, it will appear in a bone scan and indicate that the bones are denser than they really are. Bone density tests provided by DXA scans must be adjusted in order to get an accurate reading. Blood and urine tests for calcium must also be adjusted.
The studies on strontium ranelate took this into consideration and the reported improvements in bone density are net of the impact of strontium in the bones.
A complete strontium treatment program can be purchased for less than $200 USD by combining strontium citrate with Puritan's Pride Bone Care, which provides the calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin K needed to support the strontium.
To learn more about strontium for osteoporosis prevention... visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.
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