With about 10 million Americans suffering from osteoporosis and another 44 million at risk, bone health is a major issue, especially for older people.
That’s why so many seniors take calcium and vitamin D, the two best-known bone supplements. What most of them don’t know is there’s another lesser-known nutrient that is vitally important to bone health.
Strontium (pronounced STRON-tee-um) is an element naturally found in soil, seawater, and some foods.
In recent years, a growing body of research shows that strontium plays an important role in keeping your bones strong and healthy.
The evidence shows that strontium:
- Promotes bone formation. Osteoblasts are cells that create new bone. A review of the medical literature published in the journal Pharmacology & Therapeutics found that strontium speeds up the rate at which osteoblasts form. It also increases their survival, so they are more productive.
- Enhances calcium absorption. A review published in the journal Bone found that strontium activates the calcium-sensing receptors on osteoblasts that absorb the mineral. In fact, some receptors require strontium because no other substance will activate them.
- Makes bones resistant to breaking. The trabecular bone is the inner, spongy portion. It lends flexibility to bones. That’s a good thing. The more your bones can bend under pressure, the less likely they are to break. Research from France’s Laboratory of Osteoblast Biology and Pathology found that strontium helps build bone structures that can bend without breaking.Another study from Australia’s University of Melbourne tested strontium supplements in elderly osteoporosis patients. After taking them for a year, the subjects had a 59% lower risk of spinal fractures. Their hip fracture risk dropped 36%.
- Helps relieve bone pain. In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers gave strontium supplements to rats with bone cancer. Strontium helped fill in and “mineralize” bones, easing the pain.
- Prevents tooth decay. A study at Poland’s Department of Conservative Dentistry and Periodontology tested strontium toothpaste. They found that it “increased the strontium content in exposed enamel,” which helps prevent cavities.This is backed up by research that shows children with high numbers of cavities have less strontium in their tooth enamel.
Seafood, spinach, lettuce, celery, whole milk, carrots, and potatoes all contain strontium. But to get a therapeutic dose for bone strength, you’ll need to take a supplement.
They’re available from online retailers and health food stores. Follow the dosage recommended on the label.
Talk your doctor before taking strontium supplements. Avoid them if you’re pregnant, nursing, have kidney problems, a blood-clotting disorder, or Paget’s disease.
Make no bones about it: It’s important to avoid osteoporosis. Strontium may be the best bone supplement you’ve never heard of.