What Is the Connection between Strontium and Calcium?

Ray Hawk

Strontium and calcium are two closely-related chemical elements that are necessary in the human diet for increasing bone density and the strength of high-stress bone structures like teeth. Despite their beneficial effects, strontium and calcium can interfere with each other in terms of absorption by the body due to the fact that they are both positively-charged chemicals in the same category on the periodic table of elements. Calcium can prevent the absorption of strontium, and strontium can replace calcium content in bones and teeth if they are taken separately. Both compounds are recommended as osteoporosis treatments, however, and are usually formulated into compounds where they will be absorbed better in combination, such as with calcium carbonate and strontium ranelate.

The periodic table is a table of the chemical elements in which the elements are arranged by order of atomic number.
The periodic table is a table of the chemical elements in which the elements are arranged by order of atomic number.

Research has shown that strontium is better at rebuilding bones with fewer side effects than previous compounds in the biphosphorate group such as aledronate or risedronate. Many people have an innate fear of the element strontium, however, because radioactive forms of it such as strontium-90 are a direct byproduct of nuclear weapons blasts. This type of radioactive strontium if present in the diet will also accumulate in bone structures and lead to cancer. Natural strontium is safe to ingest and is a common element in seawater and present in higher concentrations in soil than native carbon often is. Studies as of 1985 where 600 to 700 milligrams of strontium were included in the diet have demonstrated increasing bone density at levels of 172% above normal.

Both strontium and calcium have been proven to be effective in treating osteoporosis.
Both strontium and calcium have been proven to be effective in treating osteoporosis.

Medical studies have shown that strontium supplements taken alone reduce the effects of osteoporosis, and decrease the incidence of cavities and effects of arthritis. When strontium and calcium are taken together, though, these effects are reduced as the strontium is almost entirely flushed out of the body. Osteoporosis treatments generally recommend, therefore, that both of the minerals strontium and calcium be taken at least two hours apart from each other so that they can be absorbed into the blood stream separately. The absorption of both minerals can also be adversely affected if other supplements like magnesium and potassium are taken at the same time as well.

A bone density screening might include a DXA scan, which measures the bone density in a patient's body.
A bone density screening might include a DXA scan, which measures the bone density in a patient's body.

Since strontium and calcium are used by the same metabolic processes in the body, they also tend to be excreted in urine when various types of metabolic chemistry interfere with their use by human or animal biology. Strontium is most readily absorbed under fasting conditions, and both strontium and calcium are used more completely in children and pregnant women than other adult segments of the population. A deficiency in magnesium content in the body will inhibit the uptake of strontium and calcium. Phosphorus has also been shown to be a stronger inhibitor of strontium absorption than calcium is when both phosphorus and strontium supplements are taken together.

Weak bones associated with osteoporosis may cause elderly individuals to be particularly susceptible to falls.
Weak bones associated with osteoporosis may cause elderly individuals to be particularly susceptible to falls.
Whole milk is an excellent source of calcium, an essential mineral.
Whole milk is an excellent source of calcium, an essential mineral.
Asian-American women are at high risk for developing osteoporosis.
Asian-American women are at high risk for developing osteoporosis.

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Discussion Comments

anon925420

Does this imply that radioactive Strontiums will affect the same systems as calcium, and if so, that taking phosphorus might be protective in the way Potassium Iodide protects from radioactive Iodine?

I think this is vital in light of ongoing meltdown and contamination from Fukushima, and already contaminated Pacific water. (Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Energy believes such is the case, and this is his expertise, as consultant to Chernobyl also.)

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