Are you worried about your osteoporosis treatment? Unfortunately, most osteoporosis treatments are particularly effective, including taking calcium.
The great news for you is that modern medicine has known about an effective alternative since the 1950s. It is the mineral strontium. This post explains why strontium is such a crucial osteoporosis natural treatment, especially when calcium supplements don’t work.
What is Osteoporosis?
Understanding what osteoporosis actually is explains why simply taking in more calcium is ineffective.
Understand that osteoporosis is a loss of bone tissue.
It is caused by a failure in the bone cell recycling system.
This is the system whereby:
- One type of bone cell (osteoblast) synthesizes new bone tissue.
- Another type of bone cell (osteoclast) breaks down old bone tissue and enables it to be reabsorbed for building new bone tissue. CRUCIAL NOTE: Resorption also helps regulate the level of blood calcium.
Both types of cells have to act in balance with one another for maintaining strong bones. Any disruption in the process can result in osteoporosis.
SIDENOTE: Bisphosphonate drugs (e.g., Foxamax, Boniva) inhibit the action of osteoclasts. This slows down the breakdown of old cells. The net result is that old cells hang around too long, which increases bone density, while at the same time reduces bone strength. It should therefore come as no surprise that the long-term use of bisphosphonate drugs is associated with more bone fractures. Osteoclast inhibition also disrupts proper levels blood calcium. These drugs are bad news from the get-go.
Why Not Take More Calcium?
First consider the basic functions of calcium in your body:
- Main mineral in bones and teeth, of course
- Cell signaling
- Blood clotting
- Muscle contraction
- Nerve function
- Activation of multiple enzymes
- Ion transport across cell membranes
- Sending and receiving neurotransmitters
- Helps conduct electricity in the body
- Maintaining regular heartbeat
That’s the short list. Let’s just say calcium has many and varied roles in your metabolism.
KEY THOUGHT: If one or more of those roles demands more calcium, it goes to the calcium bank to get some — i.e., your bones.
In other words, if your calcium metabolism is out of whack, simply taking more calcium will not fix it. In fact, taking excess calcium raises blood levels of this mineral.
A nasty consequence of excess circulating calcium is that it can accumulate in pockets of arterial damage. The net effect is to make arterial clogging worse. This is why one of the dangers of taking excess calcium leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, specifically heart attacks.
Excess calcium also challenges your kidneys to reduce blood levels. They do so by forming kidney stones.
Calcium depletion from bones does not mean you need to take more calcium. It means you need to find and fix the underlying issue with your calcium metabolism.
How Much Calcium?
The amount you need varies, depending on many factors. Your individual supplement needs can vary between 500 and 1,200 mg per day. The best overview recommendations are summarized by Dr. Andrew Weil, here: How Much Calcium is Too Much? Dr. Weil generally offers a good starting point for taking calcium and the other main minerals that you need to support its functions.
Unfortunately, the development of osteoporisis can continue its downward spiral even when you reach your recommended daily intake. Taking more calcium at this point is fruitless, even harmful.
ONE CAVEAT: Calcium function depends on vitamin D. Many supplements provide both, often combined with magnesium. However, by far the best way to get the necessary amounts of vitamin D, in the right forms and in the right places, is by exposing your skin to ultraviolet light (specifically UV-B) from the sun.
Vitamin D supplements fall way short of how effective vitamin D is when your body makes it in your skin.
Strontium as an Osteoporosis Treatment
Strontium for bone health is not news. Modern medicine has known about it since at least 1952. Doctors haven’t prescribed it because, until recently, it didn’t make money for drug companies. (Natural minerals, by themselves, are not patentable.)
Now all that has changed. Surprise, surprise, surprise: a French pharmaceutical company has invented a patentable form of strontium, called strontium ranelate.
All they did was to link a synthetic substance, ranelic acid, to strontium. Voila! Strontium ranelate is now a patented drug for treating osteoporosis!
The strontium ranelate drug is called Osseor, Protelos, or Protos. It has been approved as a treatment for osteoporosis in 70 countries. The list does not yet include the U.S.
The U.S. approval of strontium ranelate has been slowed by objections to its side effects. Longer term observations of patients treated with it have revealed an increased risk of serious cardiovascular disorders due to blood clots.
Great News – Strontium Ranelate is Unnecessary in the First Place
Research since the 1950s continues to show the effectivenss of different strontium salts for increasing bone strength. Studies have mostly used either strontium lactate, strontium chloride, or strontium citrate. Currently the most widely available form of strontium from supplement manufacturers is strontium citrate.
Like strontium ranelate, all of these salts provide ionic strontium that goes directly into bone structure. Unlike strontium ranelate, they do not have dangerous side effects.
Strontium salts are a great example of a natural treatment for osteoporosis that has led to the development of a completely unnecessary prescription drug.
Gee, what a surprise.
Although you can get certain minerals from foods, strontium is not one of them. There is just not enough. Even in foods with the highest amounts – e.g., kale and spinach – the maximum amounts only reach up to 70 mg/kg.
You would need to consume about 21 lbs of these veggies per day to reach the recommended daily amount of strontium, which is about 680 mg.
The only way to get enough of this mineral into your body is through supplementation.
A good strontium citrate supplement should provide at least 300 mg of strontium per dose, to be taken 1-3 times a day. The most important advice for taking supplemental strontium is to take it between meals and not within two hours of taking any kind of calcium supplement. This is because calcium from foods or supplements interferes with the uptake of strontium.
What to Expect
Building measurable new bone tissue may take several months with strontium. Easy-to-measure bone density scans will look better and better over time. Unlike bisphosphonate drugs, however, strontium will actually strengthen bones. This is why the incidence of bone fractures has been shown to decrease in studies on strontium as an osteoporosis treatment.
After all, preventing bone fractures is the whole reason for making bones stronger in the first place.
All the best in natural health,
Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Gloria Durst says
I never knew that excess calcium may challenge your kidneys. It would seem that if you are trying to treat osteoporosis with calcium it would be smart to know how much to take. My mother has osteoporosis so she’ll have to find out exactly how much calcium she needs to take without taking too much.
Dr. Dennis Clark says
The seemingly odd thing is that cells will export calcium (obtained from bones) into the bloodstream, regardless of how much calcium you take. It is a calcium metabolism problem, not a calcium deficiency problem. Doctors don’t seem to realize that.
All the best,
sara sota says
Dr. Clark; i was recently diagnosed with osteoporosis and all my physician did was write a scrip for fosomax. i read up on in and decided not to take it. I bought Calcium citrate 1000mg to take along with my Vit D and K. I found some bone strengthening exercises to do. Once I read your above article i am confused even more. Does Strontium help calcium metabolize in the body? What type of calcium is best to take with it? I am 64. I have hip pain at my SI area, could this be related to the bone loss? did I ask too many questions?
Thank you in advance
Dr. Dennis Clark says
Hi, Sara: As I mentioned, you already have a storehouse of calcium in your bones. Supplementing will not provide any “extra” where you might need it. Excess calcium will not change the way you’re supposed to use it. Strontium will, however, go directly into bone tissue. It won’t help calcium metabolism. It just adds structural strength to bone. Your hip pain may be related to bone loss. More likely it’s due to cartilage loss in joints. And, finally – no, you’re not asking too many questions, especially since the ones you ask are good ones.
All the best,
I just have to say thank you for providing this information!:) I come from nr 1 country in the world for osteoporosis; NORWAY. And I want to prevent as much as i can. They have done lot of studies as to why Norwegians have so high numbers of this disorder. We are also nr 1 milk drinking country in the world. My mother drinks up to 3 glas of milk a day, and still suffers from this. I think lack of sun may be the reason. I am just scared to get this:/
Dr. Dennis Clark says
Hi, Veronica: You’ve hit the nail squarely on the head here. Hardly anyone needs calcium supplementation. Indeed, as I mentioned in my post, it is useless or even dangerous. If you’d like, I can send you a report on osteoporosis that I wrote for my subscribers at https://boomerhealthcenter.com/. It will give you some pointers you may not be aware of. Two additional things to think about: 1) milk is basically an inflammatory and toxic elixir; and, 2) if sunshine was harmful to humans, we wouldn’t be here. (I’ve got a LOT more to say about that; I’ll shut up about it for now.) Please let me know what else you would like to know.
All the best in natural health,
Hi Dr Dennis, I love your post, it’s fascinating & so helpful, am delighted to have found you.
I was on high steroids for years in my twenties & thirties so it was assumed I’d have osteoporosis as a result. I had shrunk an inch by the time I was thirty & I do seem to break bones far too easily.
The strontium supplementation sounds ideal, would one take it for life to keep bones in good condition or just for a year or two until one’s bones have strengthened?
I read that one needs to keep strontium in balance with calcium & ingest twice as much calcium to do so, your thoughts?
Thank you for your time & expertise,
Dr. Dennis Clark says
Thanks for your input. I’m glad you found my post. And I’m super glad you see it as helpful. As for your first question, taking 1500 mg a day isn’t out of the question. My wife has done so continuously for many years. You can, of course, taper off in response to your bone strength tests. (Be sure it’s not just bone density testing…which has little to do with bone strength.) Regarding taking calcium, it’s not really all that helpful if your calcium metabolism is out of whack. Your experiences probably confirm that. Advice about balancing calcium and strontium in some sort of ratio doesn’t make sense.