Strontium: Bony Builder for Icy January Days

January 14, 2014
Strontium:   Bony Builder for Icy January Days
Reference:   Meunier NEJM,  COMB Study Genuis 2012

Have you ever heard of strontium?  Likely not, though you may have used it.  It used to be about 10% of the toothpaste Sensodyne for sensitive teeth.   You naturally eat about 1-2 mg a day of the stuff, and you probably have about 250 – 300 mg of it in your skeleton.  As an element, it acts precisely like calcium with a 2+ charge, but it’s the next “size” up on the periodical table of elements.  (Remember high school chemistry?). 

Now, we Americans have a curious problem shared with Western Europe, but not much of the rest of the world.  We break bones like crazy.  Our hip fracture rate is orders of magnitude greater than many parts of the world where folks eat more alkaline diets (more vegetables), eat more grass-raised animal products (Vitamin K2) and have more physical activity.  

But this January, I’ve had a bunch of friends who have fallen on the ice and hurt themselves with one fracture or another.  And I’ve had family with broken wrists, broken hips, and almost worst of all, horrible kyphosis (bent spine).  With kyphosis you compress one spinal bone and the pressure builds on the next one, so they all start squishing and you get more and more bent.  These fractures are all preventable.  But not without lifetime and lifestyle effort.

 That’s where strontium comes in.  Turns out strontium, all by itself, works to make bone stronger.  It fits in right where calcium does in the crystal lattice of bone, but seems to be a bit bigger and fits more “snugly”, making for stronger bone.    That’s what multiple different studies have shown. The New  England Journal study, published almost a decade ago, made the topic mainstream.   In that study, over 1600 women with thin bones and at least one vertebral fracture were treated with strontium ranelate, two grams a day, for a couple of years.  The very first year they had a 49% reduction in repeat fractures with a subsequent 41% reduction the following intervals.  Calcium and Vitamin D were added too.

 In the COMB study, Vitamin K2 was added to Strontium and Magnesium, Vit D and Fish oil.  It demonstrated an 8% increase in bone density in just one year.  That is about 4 times greater than the density increase you get with the artificial patent medicines pushed by modern pharma and advertised on TV all the time.  What’s appalling is that now our health care systems have taken up the trumpet call and hound you to be on bone density drugs of one brand or another (at a cost of $ 3000 a year) without offering you the safe and natural alternative of natural strontium. Bone isn’t built with just calcium, or just Vitamin D.  It takes  a complex mix.  Another interesting trivia is how well prunes build bone, probably because of the boron in prunes.   Magnesium, zinc, copper, silicon, manganese, selenium potassium, molybdenum and B12 round out the mix in addition to Vit D and K2.  You can get most of those in a mix called Osteo-Mins, or Pro-Bono from OrthoMolecular.

 WWW.  What will work for me.  I’m officially “older” and my risk of fall and fracture is like yours.  I’m taking K2, D, magnesium, strontium, fish oil separately.  I have shoveled my driveway at least 40 times this winter without falling so far.  I think I’m very deficient in silica right now and am contemplating how to expose myself to 100 of yards of it, with Vitamin D and very little exercise in Ft Myers, ASAP.

Pop Quiz

spacer (1K)

1.   Strontium is a foreign chemical that is dangerous for you.  T or F.              Answer: False.  You already have it in you.  It got a bad rap back in the 50's when above-ground nuclear bomb testing in New Mexico led to radioactive strontium showing up in cow's milk in New York.  That's because it does act like calcium.
2.   Strontium is in the same chemical class as calcium, only a bit bigger.  T or F.              Answer:  Exactly right.  So is magnesium, only magnesium is a bit smaller than calcium.
3.  The COMB study combined strontium with fish oil, Vitamin D, Vitamin K2,  and magnesium to make bones be 8% denser in just one year, four times the rate of prescription patent medicine.  T or F                      Answer:  True.  That's what makes the COMB study so intriguing.
4.   Healthy bones need more than just calcium.  In fact, about 13 key elements are all part of bone and each help a little bit.  T or F                       Answer:   True
 5.  Dried plums are also good for building bones because....?                          Answer: They have boron.  They are also quite rich in alkaline salts. that may also contribute.
 6.  Strontium, all by itself, can reduce the risk of repeat spinal fractures in osteoporotic women as much as 40% the very first year.  T or F                  Answer:  Wow.  True.
 7.   65 year old women with osteoporosis have a high risk of fracture of spine, hip, wrist --- T or F                          Answer:   Terrible, but true.
 8.  Sand is a great source of silica, a necessary ingredient for bone.  T or F                     Answer: False.  Sorry. But being on a sunny beach makes for Vitamin D and you get to be happy!

Column written by Dr John E Whitcomb, at Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI.