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STRONTIUM

Strontium is a mineral element with the atomic number 38 that was discovered in 1808 and was named after Strontian, a town in Scotland. It is one of the most abundant elements on earth, comprising about 0.04 percent of the earth's crust. At a concentration of 400 parts per million, there is more strontium in the earth's crust than carbon. Strontium is also the most abundant trace element in seawater, at a concentration of 8.1 parts per million. The human body contains about 320 mg of strontium, nearly all of which is in bone and connective tissue.

Because of its chemical similarity to calcium, strontium can replace calcium to some extent in various biochemical processes in the body, including replacing a small proportion of the calcium in hydroxyapatite crystals of calcified tissues such as bones and teeth. Strontium in these crystals imparts additional strength to these tissues. Strontium also appears to draw extra calcium into bones making them stronger and thicker.

Strontium can relieve bone pain, reduce fractures and improve mobility in persons suffering from osteoporosis, reduce cavities in teeth and help to gain weight in persons suffering with bone cancer. It also has a a cartilage growth promoting affect which can help arthritis sufferers.

Radioactive strontium

Stable strontium is one of the most effective substances yet found for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone-related conditions as it has the ability to replace some calcium and harden the bones making them less likely to break or fracture. However, human contamination with radioactive strontium can come from inhaling or consuming radioactive strontium dust or water or eating crops grown near to nuclear power reactors and certain government facilities such as weapon testing areas. Radioactive strontium particles can also pass through the skin.

Since radioactive strontium is taken up into bone, the bone itself and nearby soft tissues may be damaged by radiation released over time. Bone marrow is the most important source of red blood cells, which are depleted if the radioactive strontium level is too high. Problems from lowered red blood cell counts include anaemia, which causes excessive tiredness, blood that does not clot properly and a decreased resistance to fight disease. Repeatedly administering stable strontium can gradually eliminate radioactive strontium from the body. The stable form slowly replaces the radioactive form in bone and radioactive strontium is excreted in the urine.

Natural sources of strontium

 

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