What is Strontium?
Strontium is a trace element that is gaining attention in the treatment of osteoporosis and osteopenia. It is in the same family of elements as calcium. There is actually more strontium in the earth’s crust than there is carbon and 99% of the body’s strontium is found in the bone and connective tissue. The strontium symbol is Sr and it is the 38th element in the periodic table.
Because it is closely related to calcium it can replace calcium to some degree in the many physiological processes of the body.
Strontium for Osteoporosis
Strontium is used for osteoporosis treatment and comes in different forms. Strontium chloride and strontium citrate are the two most common forms found in nutritional supplements, but there’s not much evidence that strontium chloride is beneficial in osteoporosis. Strontium citrate is more readily absorbed and does improve bone density. However, strontium ranelate is most effective form for treating osteoporosis. Strontium citrate is available over the counter, but strontium ranelate requires a prescription.
Strontium ranelate is classified as a food/medicine which is why it requires a prescription as the ranelic acid in it is mad-made. It is manufactured by Servier, a French pharmaceutical company, and is marketed under the name Protelos. It is indicated for post-menopausal women at high risk for osteoporotic fracture. Studies show the strontium ranelate can improve bone density in the lumbar spine 14.4% and 8.3% in the hips.
It does increase the risk of heart attacks, though, and is contraindicated in patients prone to clot development. Because of an increase risk in heart attacks it is recommended that Protelos be used with restrictions by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Protelos is approved as a prescription drug in over 70 countries but it is not yet approved by the FDA for use in the United States. It can be purchased online through Canadian pharmacies. But, again requires a prescription from your physician.
Osteoporosis occurs from an imbalance between the formation of new bone and the resorption of old bone where bone resorption exceeds bone resorption leading to decreased bone density Protelos is unique in that it helps bone formation and reduces bone resorption. Many older osteoporotic agents or drugs affect one or the other.
It also slows the rate of osteoarthritis by increasing proteoglycan synthesis. Proteoglycans make up the structural components of the articular cartilage that caps the ends of joints.
Strontium and Cancer
Strontium has also been shown effective in improving bone density in patients with metastatic cancer that has spread to the bones. It even improves bone density in those areas eroded by cancer. This improvement is also associated with improvement in pain.