What to Know About Strontium Supplements

Sources, Use, and Potential Benefits

strontium for osteoporosis
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Strontium is a chemical element said to offer a number of health benefits. Structurally similar to calcium, strontium is often touted in alternative medicine as a natural remedy for osteoporosis.


Available in supplement form, strontium is found in seawater (and, in turn, in seafood and sea vegetables). Strontium can also be found in wheat bran, root vegetables, whole milk, meat, and poultry.

Potential Benefits

1) Osteoporosis

In laboratory research, scientists have found that strontium ranelate (a form of strontium registered as a prescription drug in many countries) may help increase bone formation by promoting the growth of osteoblasts (a type of bone-forming cell).

In addition, laboratory studies suggest that strontium ranelate may help protect against breakdown of bone (a process known as "bone resorption"). Since bone resorption plays a key role in the development of osteoporosis, it's thought that inhibiting bone resorption through use of strontium ranelate may help reduce osteoporosis risk and/or aid in the treatment of osteoporosis.

So far, many clinical trials on the use of strontium ranelate for osteoporosis treatment and prevention have focused on postmenopausal women. Because menopause-related declines in estrogen levels are closely linked to increased bone resorption, postmenopausal women face an increased risk of osteoporosis.

For a 2006 research review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, scientists looked at data from clinical trials (of at least one year in duration) that compared strontium ranelate to placebo in its effects on bone health in postmenopausal women. Analyzing findings from the four studies that met the review's criteria, the scientists found that strontium ranelate appears to reduce fractures in postmenopausal osteoporosis patients and increase bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with or without osteoporosis.

Noting that use of strontium ranelate may cause diarrhea, the review's authors call for more research into the potential side effects of strontium ranelate.

2) Osteoarthritis

There's some evidence that strontium may benefit people with osteoarthritis. For example, a 2011 study published in the journal Climacteric found that strontium ranelate may help slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

The study included 2,617 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (some of whom had a history of osteoarthritis). For 36 months, study members took either strontium ranelate or a placebo. In their analysis of the study findings, researchers concluded that strontium ranelate helped protect against the breakdown of cartilage (a key component of osteoarthritis).

3) Cancer

Strontium is sometimes touted as a natural treatment for cancer-related bone pain. However, in a 2011 research review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, researchers note that there is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support strontium's effectiveness as a treatment for bone pain.


Strontium is generally considered safe for most people when consumed in amounts typically found in uncontaminated food. However, the use of strontium supplements may be unsafe for some people, including people with blood disorders and people using certain medications (such as nifedipine, a drug used to treat ​high blood pressure and control angina). Therefore, it's important to seek medical advice if you're considering the use of strontium supplements.

Keep in mind that supplements haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established. Get further tips on using supplements.

Before Using Strontium for Health

Although there's some evidence that strontium may offer certain health benefits, it's important to consult your doctor prior to using strontium to treat a condition. Self-treating osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, or any other condition with strontium and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. It is not meant to cover all possible precautions, drug interactions, circumstance or adverse effects. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.

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Article Sources
  • Alexandersen P, Karsdal MA, Byrjalsen I, Christiansen C. "Strontium ranelate effect in postmenopausal women with different clinical levels of osteoarthritis." Climacteric. 2011 Apr;14(2):236-43.
  • O'Donnell S, Cranney A, Wells GA, Adachi JD, Reginster JY. "Strontium ranelate for preventing and treating postmenopausal osteoporosis." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006 Oct 18;(4):CD005326.
  • Roqué I Figuls M, Martinez-Zapata MJ, Scott-Brown M, Alonso-Coello P. "Radioisotopes for metastatic bone pain." Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Jul 6;(7):CD003347.
  • Reginster JY. "Strontium ranelate in osteoporosis." Curr Pharm Des. 2002;8(21):1907-16.