Strontium for Bone Health, Does it work?

I had a dear friend ask about taking strontium to increase her bone strength. Below I’ll briefly discuss what strontium is what it can do, and other alternatives to maintaining or rebuilding bone strength.

  • First what is strontium? Strontium is a mineral which is very similar to calcium. If you remember back to your high school chemistry class, look at the Periodic Table of the Elements you’ll see it just below calcium (2nd column from the left) with the symbol Sr. Being further down on table, it is a heavier molecule. Being in the same column as Calcium, it has some similar chemical properties which lets it mimic calcium to some degree.
  • What can it do? Strontium in the form of strontium ranelate is used in Europe as a prescription drug to help treat osteoporosis. It both helps aid in mineral uptake by the bone matrix and also reduced the reabsorption of calcium out of the bones. Since strontium is a heavier molecule that calcium it can cause your bones to appear more dense on bone scans, but the bones may not be any stronger. So if you are in Europe and using stronium ranelate, let your doctor know so he/she can adjust the bone scan.
  • Can I get strontium ranelate in the US? No. strontium ranelate is not available in the US and is not approved by the US FDA.  You will find supplements advertising they are strontium for bone health, but looking closely all that I have found contained strontium carbonate, citrate, and other salts, which have no published research to support their effectiveness and may not provide any benefit aside from taking your money.  One website advertised in big letters that they had strontium ranelate, but looking at the actual label on the bottle it had strontium citrate. All the FDA looks at is what is listed on the Supplement Fact Panel, they don’t care what is elsewhere on the label.

OK, so if you are in the US, chances are very slim you’ll find any strontium ranelate, so what else can you do? Lets look at what it takes to get calcium into your bones: 

In order to move calcium into your bones you obviously need a adequate supply of calcium, but in addition you must also have magnesium, vitamin D3, vitamin K, boron, and silicon. The boron and silicon must be in the chelated forms, which means they are bound to an organic compound (names may be like boron citrate). If it is the inorganic form, like silicone oxide, then you won’t absorb it.

If you are lacking in any of the above ingredients, or they are in the wrong proportions, you won’t absorb calcium into your bones.  Most of the calcium supplements on the market contain only calcium, or maybe calcium and vitamin D. Like your milk, it is a great source of calcium and much of the milk is fortified with vitamin D. But without the others, you’ll lose bone mass, especially, if you are a post menopausal women.

My recommendation: Take a high quality supplement that has all of the above ingredients in the correct proportions and from a quality company who follows strict pharmaceutical manufacturing practices to insure that what is on the label is actually in the bottle. Give this six months and I’m sure you’ll be very pleased with the results.

The supplement I use and recommend has the following ingredients (serving size is 4 tablets day):

  • Calcium Citrate & Calcium Carbonate             800 mg
  • Magnesium Citrate, chelate, & oxide                400 mg
  • Boron Citrate                                                            1.32 mg
  • Silicone Chelate                                                       9 mg
  • Vitamin D3                                                            400 iu
  • Vitamin K                                                                 60 mcg

Vitamin Supplementation Improves Bone Quality in the Elderly

A study reported in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in April of 2009 showed that supplementation with a multivitamin raised micronutrient concentrations, improved bone quality, and reduced the risked of falling. Ninety-two elderly individuals living in Australia were assigned to take a multivitamin or placebo and then were followed for six months. The multivitamin group achieved significantly higher blood levels of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and folate when compared to the placebo group. The multivitamin group also had significantly higher bone density measured in the heel and a trend toward a 63% lower likelihood of falling.