What is Strontium?
Strontium is a non-essential trace mineral with properties similar to calcium. Like calcium, strontium is able to incorporate into bone. The ratio of calcium to strontium in bone is about 1000:1.
Where Does Strontium Come From?
Strontium is the 15th most abundant element on earth. It occurs naturally in underground mineral deposits and most people can obtain sufficient strontium from what they eat and drink. Plant foods are a good source, as is the drinking water in many areas.
Benefits of Strontium
Strontium mainly supports good bone health. Strontium compounds are widely used in the treatment of degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis
Benefits of Strontium for Bodybuilding
Bones are the scaffolding upon which the rest of the body is built. Strong, dense bones are essential to good posture, balance and strength. Bone quality has an impact on the way we look, move and exercise. Poor posture can result in incorrect lifting, which can lead to devastating injury. Weak bones are more likely to break, putting you out of action. Bones do become thinner with age, and there is evidence that some commonly used substances such as caffeine can deplete bones of calcium, accelerating this process (6). Strontium may act in a number of ways. It is thought to have an anabolic effect on cells called osteoblasts which produce bone, causing them to both produce more new bone and to multiply faster (2). In addition strontium may suppress the activity of osteoclasts, the cells which break bone down (5). There is also some evidence that strontium can help reverse joint degredation (1), and it has been implicated in the efficient functioning of the mitochondria, the energy centre of the body’s cells (4). Many bodybuilding and fitness exercises, especially the compound movements place tremendous strain on our body, including our joints and bones.
Side Effects, Safety & Negatives of Strontium
Strontium is generally thought of as safe when consumed in therapeutic doses. There have been anecdotal reports of symptoms such as nausea and skin rash, although these have not been tested. Prolonged overexposure to strontium can cause leaching of calcium, causing weakening of the bones, tooth decay or rickets (8). Whilst there have been many studies demonstrating the protective and regenerative effect strontium can have on weakened bones, such as those of osteoporosis sufferers, the effects of strontium supplementation are not yet well established in healthy subjects.
Strontium Recommended Doses and Ingredient Timing
As a non-essential trace mineral, there is no recommended daily intake for strontium. Therapeutic doses can range from 10-2000mg. It is estimated that the average dietary intake is between 1 and 5mg per day. To support bone health strontium should be taken with calcium, however many people think strontium and calcium should not be taken at the same time, because they are absorbed into the body through the same pathway, and may be absorbed inefficiently (3).
Many bone support and multivitamin supplements contain strontium, particularly natural or plant-derived formulations. As the body has such a low requirement, it is not readily available as a separate supplement.
Strontium can be stacked with nearly anything, although calcium, phosphorus and large amounts of insoluble fibre are thought to decrease absorption. Vitamin D, magnesium and vanadium are thought to enhance the effect of strontium. Indian Plant Cissus quadrangularis (Devil’s Backbone) is thought by many to have anabolic and fat burning effects and may also increase strontium absorption. .
(1)American College of Rheumatology (ACR). "Bone medication may save knees." ScienceDaily, 11 Nov. 2012. Web. 31 Oct. 2013.
(2) Beuttenmuller A, Dziak T. The Effects of Strontium Citrate on Osteoblast Proliferation and Differentiation. IADR/AADR/CADR 85th General Session and Exhibition (March 21-24 2007); Accessed 31st October 2013.
(3) Sips, AJAM. Intestinal absorption of strontium chloride in healthy volunteers: pharmacokinetics and reproducibility. Br. J Clin Pharmacol. 1996;41:543-549
(4) Skoryna SC. Effects of oral supplementation with stable strontium. Can Med Assoc Jour. 1981; 125(7): 703-12
(5)Marie PJ, Ammann P, Boivin G, Rey C. Mechanisms of action and therapeutic potential of strontium in bone. Calcif Tissue Int. 2001; 69(3): 121-9
(6)Prema B Rapuri, H Karimi Kinyamu, Kay L Rischon. Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001; 74(5):694-700
(8) ATSDR.Toxicological profile for strontium. Atlanta,GA: Agency for toxic substances and disease registry US Dept of Health and Human Services. Public Health Services. 2001