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Strontium and Osteoporosis

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Ask the Experts

Q: I’m a 40-year-old woman with low bone density, and I’m wondering whether strontium would help me

Q: I’m a 40-year-old woman with low bone density, and I’m wondering whether strontium would help me.

Strontium is a mineral similar in chemical structure to calcium. Most people are familiar with calcium’s role in bone maintenance but have not availed themselves of the significant benefits that strontium can bring to people with low bone density or osteopenia and osteoporosis.

Medical research suggests that strontium contributes to skeletal structure by inclusion within the bone matrix, increasing the bone-building productivity of osteoblasts and slowing down the resorption of bone by osteoclasts. This latter effect is often dramatically seen in women as they enter menopause and their estrogen levels decline.

A study in 2002 tested strontium ranelate for prevention of bone loss in postmenopausal women. In this two-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 160 women received either placebo or strontium at a dose of 125 mg, 500 mg, or 1 g daily. The results showed greater gains in bone density the more strontium taken.

In a subsequent study reported by the New England Journal of Medicine, 1,649 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and at least one vertebral fracture received 2 g of oral strontium ranelate per day or placebo for three years.

This study found the women in the strontium group had increased bone mineral density by 14.4 percent at the lumbar spine and 8.3 percent at the femoral neck. This same study also indicated a 41 percent reduced risk of new vertebral bone fracture over the three years.

Most of the recent research has used strontium ranelate, but many patients have achieved results with other forms including the gluconate, citrate, lactate, and carbonate salts of strontium. Strontium should be taken on an empty stomach, at least three hours away from any calcium supplements, because strontium impairs calcium absorption. As always, check with a natural health care practitioner before taking large doses of any nutritional supplement.

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