Strontium is a silvery metal found naturally as a non-radioactive element. About 99% of the strontium in the human body is concentrated in the bones.
Several different forms of strontium are used as medicine. Scientists are testing strontium ranelate to see if it can be taken by mouth to treat thinning bones (osteoporosis) and arthritis. Radioactive strontium-89 is given intravenously (by IV) for prostate cancer and advanced bone cancer. Strontium chloride hexahydrate is added to toothpaste to reduce pain in sensitive teeth.
Strontium chloride is the most common form of strontium found in dietary supplements. People use supplements for building bones. But there isn’t much scientific information about the safety or effectiveness of strontium chloride when taken by mouth.
- A special form of strontium called strontium ranelate can increase bone formation and prevent bone loss when used in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. It’s not known if strontium contained in dietary supplements has these effects.
- A radioactive form of strontium may kill some cancer cells. This type of strontium is not available in dietary supplements.
- There is some interest in using strontium for osteoarthritis because developing research suggests it might boost the formation of collagen and cartilage in joints.
- There is also interest in studying strontium for preventing tooth decay because researchers have noticed fewer dental caries in some population groups who drink public water that contains relatively high levels of strontium.
- Osteoporosis (“bone thinning”). Research shows that taking strontium ranelate by mouth reduces the risk of fractures and increases bone density in people with osteoporosis. Strontium ranelate is approved as a medicine in Europe for this condition. But it can cause serious side effects. So other treatments are usually used instead. Strontium ranelate is not available in the U.S.
- Heart disease: Don’t use strontium if you have high blood pressure or heart disease.
- Cerebrovascular disease (stroke): Don’t use strontium if you have a history of stroke or poor circulation to the brain.
- Paget’s disease (a bone disease): Use strontium with caution. The bones of people with Paget’s disease seem to take up more strontium than normal. It’s not known how important this finding is for health.
- Peripheral arterial disease (decreased blood flow through veins): Don’t use strontium if you have peripheral arterial disease.
- Kidney problems: Strontium is eliminated by the kidneys and can build up in people with poor kidney function. Use strontium supplements with caution if you have kidney disease. Strontium ranelate should not be used if kidney disease is advanced.
- Blood clotting disorders: Strontium ranelate is associated with a small increased risk of blood clots. There is concern that strontium might be more likely to cause blot clots in people with blood clotting disorders or those at high risk of blood clotting. It’s best not to use strontium if you have a clotting disorder.
Like any other supplement or drug strontium should be taken with caution. It’s recommended to see a doctor before taking any supplement or drug. Carefully following the recommended usage is crucial.8
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