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Strontium is a trace element widely found in nature. It became famous in the 1960s when a radioactive form of strontium produced by atomic bomb testing, strontium-90, became prevalent in the environment. Nonradioactive strontium has recently undergone study as a treatment for osteoporosis, with some promising results.
There is no known daily requirement for strontium.
What is the Scientific Evidence for Strontium?
The major human studies of strontium for osteoporosis involved a special form of the mineral called strontium ranelate.
In a 3-year, double-blind , placebo-controlled study of 5,091 women with osteoporosis, use of strontium at a dose of 2 grams daily significantly improved bone density and reduced incidence of all fractures as compared to placebo. 1 Additionally, in a 3-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 1,649 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis and a history of at least one vertebral fracture, use of strontium ranelate at a dose of 2 grams daily reduced the incidence of new vertebral fractures by 49% in the first year and 41% in the full 3-year period (as compared to placebo). 2 Use of strontium also significantly increased measured bone density. No significant side effects were seen.
Benefits were also seen in an earlier, smaller study. 3 A fourth study tested strontium ranelate for preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal who have not yet developed it. 4 In this 2-year, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 160 women received either placebo or strontium ranelate at a dose of 125 mg, 500 mg, or 1 gram daily. The results showed greater gains in bone density the more strontium taken.
While some treatments for osteoporosis act to increase bone formation, and other decrease bone breakdown, some evidence suggests that strontium ranelate has a dual effect, providing both these benefits at once. 5 Other forms of strontium besides strontium ranelate, such as strontium chloride, have shown potential benefits in animal studies, but have not undergone significant testing in people. 6
Based on current evidence strontium ranelate can be taken at a dose of 500 mg to 1 gram daily to prevent osteoporosis and at a higher dose of 2 grams daily to treat existing osteoporosis.
Note: It is not yet clear whether combining strontium with standard treatments for osteoporosis will enhance or diminish the ultimate benefits.
- Reginster JY, Seeman E, DE Vernejoul MC, et al. Strontium ranelate reduces the risk of invertebral fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis: Treatment of Perpheral Osteoporosis (TROPOS) study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Feb 22 [Epub ahead of print].
- Meunier PJ, Roux C, Seeman E, Ortolani S, Badurski JE, Spector TD, Cannata J, Balogh A, Lemmel EM, Pors-Nielsen S, Rizzoli R, Genant HK, Reginster JY. The effects of strontium ranelate on the risk of vertebral fracture in women with postmenopausal osteoporosis. N Engl J Med. 350(5):459-68.
- Meunier PJ, Slosman DO, Delmas PD, Sebert JL, Brandi ML, Albanese C, Lorenc R, Pors-Nielsen S, De Vernejoul MC, Roces A, Reginster JY. Strontium ranelate: dose-dependent effects in established postmenopausal vertebral osteoporosis--a 2-year randomized placebo controlled trial. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 87(5):2060-6.
- Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Dougados M, Jupsin I, Colette J, Roux C. Prevention of early postmenopausal bone loss by strontium ranelate: the randomized, two-year, double-masked, dose-ranging, placebo-controlled PREVOS trial. Osteoporos Int. 13(12):925-31.
- Marie PJ. Strontium ranelate: a dual mode of action rebalancing bone turnover in favour of bone formation. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 18 Suppl 1():S11-5.
- Reginster JY, Deroisy R, Jupsin I. Strontium ranelate: a new paradigm in the treatment of osteoporosis. DrugsToday (Barc). 2003;39:89–101.