Taking strontium for osteoporosis is an interesting alternative to taking mainstream pharmaceuticals. Strontium ranelate, just one form of strontium, is routinely prescribed as an osteoporosis alternative treatment in a number of countries and has been shown to be quite effective, especially in post-menopausal women. While strontium ranelate has not received FDA approval and is therefore not available in the United States, natural strontium supplements such as strontium citrate and strontium carbonate are available and have been approved as dietary supplements. Follow along and let's learn how strontium for osteoporosis works.
Strontium (Sr) is an element with atomic number 38. It is a soft, whitish to yellowish metal similar to lead. The element strontium is chemically highly reactive and readily forms salts. It is very common in nature, being the 15th most common element. In its natural state, it is usually found as a sulfate salt (SrSO4) or a carbonate salt (SrCO3). It is also found naturally as strontium citrate and strontium carbonate.
During the 1950's, the United States engaged in nuclear atmospheric testing, using an isotope of strontium called Strontium-90 . Strontium-90, produced by nuclear fission (nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor waste water), is radioactive. Unfortunately, this radioactive material was common in the nuclear fallout and spread around the world, contaminating the environment and becoming incorporated into the food chain. Radioactive strontium can be assimilated into human bone and can cause a variety of bone disorders, such as bone cancer. With a half life of 29.1 years, strontium-90 from the 1950's is still present in the environment and decaying. Because of the negativity associated with strontium-90, negativity toward strontium in general still persists in this country.
Calcium is essential to the mineralization and building of bone. Strontium lies just below calcium on the periodic table of elements (magnesium lies just above it). Thus strontium's atomic number of 38 is heavier than calcium's atomic number 20. Calcium, magnesium and strontium are all part of the alkaline earth metal family. The alkaline earth metals all have two electrons in their outer valence shells. The result is that they are similar chemically. Because they are chemically similar, strontium can act as a substitute for calcium in the mineralization of bone. Because strontium is heavier than calcium, an atom of strontium gives a denser bone structure than an atom of calcium. Strontium and calcium work well together to improve bone building and prevent bone destruction.
Osteoporosis is a bone disease where the bone mass density has significantly decreased from normal. In healthy bones, a dynamic process known as bone remodeling takes place. Old bone tissue is constantly being replaced by new bone tissue. In osteoporosis, this process gets out of whack and not enough new bone tissue is laid down. This results in the bones becoming less dense and more fragile.
Because strontium is absorbed by the bones like calcium, it seems to be very effective at being incorporated into new bone as it is being laid down by osteoblasts (cells that form bone). It does not get incorporated into older bone. It also helps inhibit resorption of bone by osteoclasts (cells that break down bone). Thus, it serves to prevent osteoporosis while at the same time increasing bone mass density. We absorb a few milligrams per day of strontium just from the dust in the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink. For people suffering from osteoporosis, 680 mg per day of elemental strontium is the recommended dosage.
Strontium ranelate is a synthetic form of strontium made by combining strontium with ranelic acid. Because ranelic acid is synthetic (man-made), the combination of the two makes it able to be patented by pharmaceutical companies. Strontium ranelate is therefore marketed in Europe under the tradename Protelos(R) or Protos (R), and is available only by prescription. Several large-scale scientific studies have shown it to be effective in treating osteoporosis, especially in post-menopausal women. Strontium ranelate for osteoporosis treatment has not been approved by the FDA in the United States. For more detailed information, refer to my page on strontium ranelate.
There are naturally occurring forms of strontium which are available and used as supplements. The two most common strontium supplements for sale are strontium citrate and strontium carbonate, but strontium lactate and gluconate are also available. Because these are naturally occurring compounds, they are not patentable. These compounds were made available to the public in the United States under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994. They are sold as dietary supplements by vitamin and supplement companies. As opposed to strontium ranelate, only small-scale studies have been undertaken, and because they are not patentable, large-scale studies will probably not be done due to the cost. However, the small-scale studies did indicate that naturally occurring strontium may be an effective natural osteoporosis treatment. Check out my page on strontium supplements for more information.
Common side effects found in the strontium ranelate studies include nausea, diarrhea, dermatitis/eczema, headache and gastric distress. Researchers from Spain have noted a possible causal link between strontium ranelate and alopecia, a condition where people lose large amounts of hair. There were 56 reported cases of various adverse affects of strontium ranelate from May 2006 through January 2008. Of these, five reported alopecia. There seems to be little information on natural strontium side effects and safety (strontium citrate and carbonate), as there are no large-scale studies. As a general rule, however, strontium should not be taken if you are pregnant or nursing, have kidney dysfunction, or a history of blood clots.
Whether in natural or synthetic forms, scientific studies, as well as causal evidence, supports that strontium for osteoporosis works. In countries where strontium ranelate is available, it is an effective option. In the United States, natural forms such as strontium citrate and strontium carbonate offer an interesting osteoporosis alternative treatment. iHerb carries several high-quality strontium supplements, including Doctor's Best Strontium Bone Maker - just two capsules provide the recommended daily dose of 680mg strontium citrate. As always, it's a good idea to discuss this with your doctor before you start taking any new supplements.
For more information on osteoporosis in general, go to my page on osteoporosis. Then, check out my page on natural treatment for osteoporosis. Remember to check back often - as I uncover new information about natural treatments for osteoporosis, I will be sure to let you know. So, go out and create the healthy lifestyle you deserve
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