Strontium Citrate (Element, Supplements, Use, Information)

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Strontium Citrate (Element, Supplements, Use, Information) - Page 2
by Ward Dean, MD -- Reprinted by permission from Pat Whittington of Vitamin Research

Strontium is in the periodic table just below calcium.  Like calcium, strontium has two positive charges in its ionic form.  Because of its chemical similarity to calcium, strontium can replace calcium to some extent in various biochemical processes in the body including replacing a small proportion of the calcium in hydroxyapatite crystals of calcified tissues such as bones and teeth.  Strontium in these crystals imparts additional strength to these tissues.  Strontium also appears to draw extra calcium into bones. When rats or guinea pigs are fed increased amounts of strontium, their bones and teeth became thicker and stronger.

Strontium has been safely used as a substance for more than a hundred years.  It was first listed in Squires Companion to the British Pharmacopoeia in 1884.  Subsequently, strontium was used therapeutically in the United States and Europe.  As late as 1955, strontium compounds were still listed in the Dispensatory of the United States of America.  For decades in the first half of the twentieth century, strontium salts were administered in dosages of 200 to 400 mg per day without toxic effects.

Strontium and Bone Strength
Strontium tends to accumulate in bone -- especially where active remodeling is taking place.  In 1959, researchers at the Mayo Clinic investigated the effect of strontium in 32 individuals in need of bone supporting materials.1  Each person received 1.7 grams of strontium per day as strontium lactate.  Eighty-four percent of the people reported marked relief, and the remaining 16 percent experienced moderate improvement.  No significant side effects were seen, even with prolonged (up to three years) administration of strontium.  X-rays taken at the beginning and end of the study showed possible increased bone mass in 78 percent of the cases.  This is not surprising, considering the symptomatic improvement reported by the patients. Unfortunately, measurement of bone mass in 1959 was pretty crude, leading the researchers to qualify their interpretation of the X-rays.  Sophisticated tests such as dual photon absorptiometry and CT scanning as used today were not available at the time this study was conducted.

Nevertheless, because of the "strontium scare" of the 1950s, little follow-up was conducted until nearly 30 years later.  In 1986, scientists administered 0.27 percent strontium to mice in their drinking water.

90 Vegetarian Capsules / 750 mg per 3 Vege caps by Life Extension

This resulted in an increased rate of bone formation and decreased rate of bone resorption.2  In another study, rats given extra strontium showed increased bone formation and greater bone density than rats fed a control diet.  These reports suggested that the amount of strontium we ingest may support bone mass.8

In 1985, Dr. Stanley C. Skoryna of McGill University in Montreal conducted a small-scale study that pointed to a potential role for strontium in the treatment of humans.3  Three men and three women with compromised bones were each given 600 to 700 mg per day of strontium in the form of strontium carbonate.  Bone biopsies were taken in each patient at the iliac crest (hip bone), before and after six months of treatment with strontium.  Biopsy samples showed a 172 percent increase in the rate of bone formation after ingesting strontium, with no change in bone resorption.  The people receiving strontium remarked that the pain in their bones were not as pronounced and their ability to move around had improved. Recently, interest in strontium has been rekindled by a number of studies using the strontium salt of ranelic acid (strontium ranelate).  A large multi-center trial known as the strontium ranelate (SR) for treatment of bone conditions trial was designed to investigate the efficacy and safety of different doses of strontium in postmenopausal women.4

The study included 353 women with at least one previous vertebral fracture and low scores of lumbar bone density.  The women received placebo or strontium in doses of 170, 340 or 680 mg per day for two years.  The scientists evaluated lumbar and hip bone mineral density (BMD) using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).  They also determined the incidence of new vertebral fractures, as well as several biochemical markers of bone metabolism.  Lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) increased in a dose-dependent manner as shown in Figure 1.  Also, there was a significant reduction in the number of patients with new vertebral fractures in the second year of the group receiving the 680 mg per day dose.  In the 680 mg per day group, there was also a significant positive change in markers of bone metabolism.  The authors concluded that the 680 mg per day dose offered the best combination of efficacy and safety, and stated without equivocation that strontium ranelate supported vertebral BMD.

A much larger trial by the same research team included 1,649 postmenopausal women. These subjects received 2 grams per day of strontium ranelate (providing 680 mg strontium) or placebo for three years.5  Calcium and vitamin D supplements were also given to both groups before and during the study.  Women in the strontium group noted a risk reduction of 49 percent in the first year of treatment and 41 percent during the three-year study period.  Women in the strontium group increased lumbar bone mineral density by an average of 14.4 percent and femoral neck BMD an average of 8.3 percent.  The authors concluded treatment of postmenopausal women with strontium ranelate leads to bone and vertebral support.

One of the largest studies on strontium ranelate, published in the January 30, 2006 online addition of the journal Bone, investigated its effects on more than 7,000 postmenopausal women.6  After one year and three years, strontium ranelate proved significant as an anti-fracture agent compared with a placebo.  After one year, the risk of new vertebral fractures was reduced by 49 percent and after three years, by 41 percent in women taking the strontium ranelate.  In addition, the relative risk of vertebral fracture was significantly reduced by 52 percent after 1 year and by 38 percent over 3 years in the strontium ranelate group compared with placebo.  Strontium ranelate also significantly decreased the relative risk of vertebral fractures by 45 percent in patients without vertebral fracture over 3 years compared to placebo.  Bone mineral density also increased during 3 years of treatment with strontium ranelate in comparison with placebo.  Strontium ranelate was well tolerated throughout the entire duration of the clinical trials, according to the authors.

Thus, strontium ranelate, 2 grams per day orally, is a new, effective, and safe treatment for postmenopausal women in reducing vertebral fracture risk in patients with or without a history of vertebral fracture.

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