If you are concerned about the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, you may have heard about treatment with strontium. Some people say this supplement improves bone health, but it’s important to think about its benefits and risks before you decide to take it.
What Is Strontium?
Strontium is a mineral 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 similar to calcium. It seems to play a role in how your body makes new bone while it slows the breakdown of old bone. That means it may affect how strong your bones are. Some research says that women with osteoporosis may not absorb strontium as they should.
You can buy different forms of it, such as strontium citrate, in supplements at supermarkets and health food stores.
Scientists haven’t tested these supplements much, so there’s not enough research to know if they fight osteoporosis. Also, the FDA doesn’t regulate supplements in the same way as prescription drugs, so it's not possible to know if if they are safe or work well or even how much of the main ingredient they contain.
If you want to take a 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 medication to treat and prevent osteoporosis and bone fractures. Because strontium ranelate is a weak anti-resorptive agent and there are more effective osteoporosis agents in the United States and most countries, we do not use strontium ranelate in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis.
The drug makes your bones stronger and lowers your chances of getting 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 has risks though. Doctors can prescribe it only for postmenopausal women and for 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 means there’s less blood flow to your arms and legs
- Have high blood pressure that isn’t under control