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What Foods Have Strontium?

If you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you have probably heard of strontium. Many people supplement this mineral as a part of their treatment plan. But what foods have strontium?

In this article we’ll take a look at whether you can get strontium through foods. We’ll see how it measures up to supplementation. 

Let’s get to it.

Foods That Contain Strontium

Where is strontium found naturally?

The mineral strontium is present throughout nature. It is in seawater, groundwater, air and soil. Plants naturally accumulate strontium as they grow. When you cook foods in water that contains strontium, that food absorbs some of the strontium (1).

In the US, the states with the highest levels of strontium in their water are states that surround the Great Lakes (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York), Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Florida (1, 2).  

Since strontium comes from the soil, it accumulates in most plants. However, it is difficult to pin down the amount of strontium in plant-based foods. It depends on the soil where foods are grown, and the water with which they are prepared. 

Root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, radishes, garlic and parsnips tend to have higher amounts of strontium. It is especially concentrated in the peel.

Strontium also concentrates in the bran of grains. Whole grains will be a better food source than refined flour products.

Seafood picks up strontium from the water where it lives. Shellfish have the highest concentration of strontium.

Higher fat dairy products like milk, cream and cheese contain strontium. This comes from the plants that the animals (like cows or goats) eat.

Brazil nuts are another good source of strontium. Brazil nuts also have a high content of selenium. Be careful, because it is possible to reach toxic levels if you eat too many. There is a lot of variability in mineral content of Brazil nuts, so it’s hard to measure how much you are getting (3).

How much strontium do you need? 

Strontium is not an essential nutrient. This means there is no research showing that it is absolutely necessary for human health. Therefore, the US Dietary Guidelines do not include a recommendation for strontium.

Some people believe strontium is an essential nutrient. As far back as 1949, Rygh reported that when you fed rats and guinea pigs a diet without strontium, the development of their bones and teeth was delayed (4).  

However, we don’t know enough yet about strontium’s role in the body to establish a dietary recommendation.

Strontium is so widespread in the environment that you can find it in the bones of just about everyone. The typical diet naturally provides anywhere from 1-10 mg of strontium each day. You do not need to do much to get strontium in your diet, other than eat a variety of foods.

Children who eat or drink high levels of strontium might have trouble with their bone development. This is especially true if they are also not getting enough calcium and protein (5). 

How does strontium affect your bones?

Strontium is very similar chemically to calcium, and easily substitutes for calcium in your bone structure. Most of the strontium in your body is in your bones and teeth, just like calcium (6).  

Strontium ranelate is a form of supplement available in European countries. It is associated with a decrease in osteoporotic fractures and improved bone mineral density (6). 

There is less research out there for strontium citrate, the form of the mineral available in the United States. However, a very small study published in 2017 looked at a protocol containing melatonin, D3, K2 and strontium citrate. They found these nutrients increased osteoblast activity and decreased osteoclast activity, thereby increasing bone mineral density (7).

How does strontium in foods compare with supplements?

The amount of strontium citrate in supplements ranges anywhere from 200 mg up to 750 mg per serving. You will never come close to getting that amount naturally in your diet. People typically get from 1-10 mg of strontium in the foods they eat.

Strontium supplementation is really a treatment. Work with your doctor to make sure it is right for you.

Final Thoughts

Some people use strontium as a part of their treatment for osteoporosis or osteopenia.

Strontium is present in water and soil, and most people get it naturally through their diet. 

The amount of strontium in supplements is much higher than what you would get naturally through foods. If you are considering a strontium supplement, be sure to work with your doctor to monitor this form of treatment.

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