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Osteoporosis Health Center

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Strontium Treatment for Osteoporosis

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If you are concerned about the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, one treatment you may have heard of and considered is strontium. It’s important to think about the benefits and risks of this supplement that some say improves bone health.

What Is Strontium?

Strontium is a trace element found in seawater and soil. In your diet, you get it mainly from seafood, but you can also get small amounts of it in whole milk, wheat bran, meat, poultry, and root vegetables.

Strontium is chemically similar to calcium. It appears to play a role in how your body makes new bone while slowing the breakdown of old bone, so it may impact your bone density. There is some evidence that women with osteoporosis may not absorb strontium as they should.

You can buy forms of the element, such as strontium citrate, as nutritional supplements in supermarkets and health food stores.

Scientists haven’t tested these supplements much, so there’s not enough research to know if they help fight osteoporosis. Also, the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as prescription drugs, so it's not always possible to know if the product you’re taking works well or how much of the active ingredient it really has.

If you are interested in taking strontium supplement, ask your doctor first. 

What is Strontium Ranelate?

In Australia and some countries in Europe, a form of strontium called strontium ranelate (Osseor, Protelos) is available as a prescription medicationto treat and prevent osteoporosis and the fractures it causes. But it’s not approved for sale in the U.S., and it’s different from the supplement forms of strontium.

The drug makes your bones stronger and reduces your risk of fractures. Doctors aren’t sure exactly how it works, but it seems to help the body make more bone and keep the bone you have from breaking down.

Strontium ranelate isn’t a good treatment for everyone, though. Doctors prescribe it only for postmenopausal women and men with severe osteoporosis who can’t take other drugs. It’s also not for people who:

  • Have blood clots or have had them before
  • Can’t move very much, either for a short time, such as after surgery, or for the long term, such as because of a disability
  • Have a history of heart problems, like a heart attack, angina, or peripheral artery disease, which reduces blood flow to your arms and legs
  • Have high blood pressure that isn’t under control

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on October 19, 2014
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