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The truth about strontium and blood clots ... and other osteoporosis updates.

Strontium is the singular ingredient that makes Ultimate Bone Support (UBS) a superior supplement to conserve bones. It effectively prevents and repairs osteoporosis without the side effects of bisphosphonates. And it helps form bones that are not only dense, but are stronger and more flexible than Fosamax and other bisphosphonates.

As soon as I read the original studies on strontium, I contacted my formulators and asked them to help me design a bone-saving supplement that included strontium. At that time, all of the studies used a patented form--strontium ranelate. Strontium is the active ingredient; ranelate, a salt of ranelic acid, is the carrier. When you put them together, they form strontium ranelate, which is a patented drug. Other forms of strontium are not drugs and are not patented.

The studies using strontium ranelate found that it was effective in significantly decreasing the risk of fractures. But there wasn't much money to be made with strontium ranelate since it was so similar to other non-patented forms of strontium. Follow-up bone density tests indicate that all forms of strontium are protective against bone loss. A few supplement companies like Advanced Bionutritionals included the non-patented forms of strontium with carriers like citrate, lactate, and carbonate in their formulas.

Recently, there have been allegations that strontium may cause blood clots or allergic reactions in some women. However, a careful reading of an independent review of the data that the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published was unable to find an association between strontium and either blood clots or allergic hypersensitivity.

In fact, the incidents of blood clots in women who took strontium ranelate were the same as in postmenopausal women who didn't take it!

So I went a step further and consulted with several researchers. They believe that the side effects from strontium actually come from its carrier, ranelate, rather than from either the strontium itself or another one of its carriers, like citrate. The bottom line is there's no compelling evidence to suggest that strontium citrate is anything other than beneficial.

Reminders about strontium:

The strontium used in bone formulas is not strontium-90, the toxic radioactive isotope that nuclear fission produces. Strontium-90 doesn't occur naturally. Rather, it comes from testing nuclear weapons and from escaping from nuclear power plants. It is dangerous and can contribute to cancer, especially in children.

Nonradioactive strontium is nontoxic, even in large doses. In fact, the nontoxic form of strontium can eliminate radioactive strontium-90 from the body over time.

The optimum dose of strontium to protect against osteoporosis appears to be 680 mg/day. But researchers have found lower doses are clinically effective. This is why a daily dose of UBS contains 500 mg of strontium citrate per day. Adding more strontium would unnecessarily add to the cost of this formula and necessitate taking three tablets a day instead of two.

Strontium impairs the absorption of calcium. So while you need both minerals, you need to take them at different times. My suggestion is to take UBS on an empty stomach morning and night, and take your multi with calcium, or calcium-rich foods, with meals. This is the simplest and most effective method to assure maximum absorption of both minerals.

If your diet is healthful, 500 mg each of supplemental calcium and magnesium should be sufficient to meet the needs of your bones. Remember, dark green leafy vegetables, not only dairy products, are also high in calcium, as are almonds, canned salmon, and tofu.

What to take if you need more protection?

Occasionally, this combination of strontium and calcium isn't enough. That's when I recommend adding calcitonin-salmon nasal spray. Calcitonin is a hormone found in salmon that slows down the normal breakdown of bone and increases bone density. It's a prescription item covered by Medicare. You spray it in alternating nostrils every day. The combination of UBS and calcitonin is extremely effective.

I cannot overestimate the importance of getting adequate vitamin D for healthy bones. The recommended dose for osteoporosis prevention is said to be 800 IU per day. I wholeheartedly disagree. Most people need much more! I suggest getting a vitamin D blood test and taking 2,000-5,000 IU per day to get up to and maintain a level of 70 ng/mL. This is especially important if you don't get enough sunlight, use sunscreen, or are over the age of 60. The latter is because seniors' skin is less responsive to the conversion of ultra violet light to vitamin D.

Osborne, et al. Drug Saf. 2010 July 1;33(7):579-91.

For a complete listing of Dr. Nan's recommended dietary supplements and nutraceuticals, please go to:

Or call toll free 800-791-3395 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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Publication:Women's Health Letter
Date:Apr 1, 2012
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