Strontium For Bones – And Why We Avoid It

Why don’t you use strontium in your bone formula?

First, the basics. Strontium is a mineral and is found in trace amounts in the bones. Strontium as a bone support supplement is based on its use in Europe as a prescription drug for osteoporosis. And while that SOUNDS great, the reality is connecting a prescription product to a supplement is not wise.

You’re not actually getting the same thing when you buy a strontium supplement here in America. The prescription form is strontium ranelate and is sold under the name Protelos or Osseor. Strontium sold here as a supplement is NOT strontium ranelate, but strontium citrate. It may seem like a small difference, but in the world of pharmaceuticals – it is a HUGE difference. 

By modifying the “side chains” as they are called, you can dramatically change how a chemical compound (drug, supplement, whatever) behaves. For example – there is a great prescription medicine for itching that when you tweak its side chain becomes a strong sedative (and no longer helps out with itching).  Small change, and quite the big deal.  Especially if you are an itchy truck driver 🙂

Strontium citrate has never had a clinical trial published on it. Therefore, we can’t really say if it benefits bone health and can’t assume it will work for bones like strontium ranelate.

Strontium’s Many Side Effects

Strontium ranelate had some pretty promising results for osteoporosis and was approved in Europe. But after it hit the market, more and more problems were identified.

It’s been documented that strontium ranelate causes serious heart problems including heart attacks, blood clots, clogged arteries, and more.

European Medicines Agency (their FDA of sorts) still considers it authorized for use BUT has put safety warnings and restrictions in place due to the complications.

Strontium citrate actually causes much higher levels of strontium to be absorbed, and therefore could theoretically cause greater risk to the cardiovascular system.

Other Reasons Why We Say No To Strontium

So besides the biggie – serious long term cardiovascular problems – strontium isn’t really an optimal choice for bones anyway.Here’s a few reasons why:

  • It competes with calcium for digestive tract absorption.  Less calcium in your blood speeds up bone loss.
  • Strontium will “replace” calcium in the bones. This gives the appearance of dense bones on bone scans, but they are in fact more brittle.
  • Strontium is NOT an essential mineral. There is no dietary need for it.

This type of misdirection we highlight is extremely common in the supplement world. By leaving out the details, supplement companies are creating “false equivalence.” Strontium used in Europe is VERY different than the strontium citrate we can get here. They can’t be assumed to be the same or close; strontium citrate is NOT beneficial for osteoporosis like ranelate has been shown to be.

If you are looking for a bone support formula, we recommend Vitality True Food Calcium Care. Formulated by us and exclusively manufactured to exceed our strict Vitality Approved standards, this is our top-pick calcium supplement!

Just trying to keep it real…

Neal Smoller, PharmD
Owner, Pharmacist, Big Mouth

Dr. Neal Smoller, Holistic Pharmacist

About Neal Smoller

Dr. Neal Smoller, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist: and owner of Village Apothecary, an independent pharmacy in the most famous small town in America—Woodstock, NY. He’s also the host of the popular wellness podcast, The Big Mouth Pharmacist.”


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