What is the nutrient analysis of bone broth?

by 440 · August 11, 2014 at 01:25 PM

Hello everyone,

Lately I've been trying to do some research into chicken and beef broth, but there seems to be very little documentation on their nutritional content. I consume a lot of this because I am more susceptible to joint problems than average, but I want to make sure that I'm not disrupting any mineral balances.

Specifically, I'm interested in determining the amounts of calcium, magnesium, glucosamine, chondritin, hyaluronic acid, collagen, gelatin, and other relevant nutrients present in average servings of chicken and beef broths prepared with pastured animals according to the method advocated by Sally Fallon (soaked in vinegar and water and simmered for several hours--24 for chicken, 72 for beef).

There does not seem to be much literature on this topic. I did see an uncited reference to one study that supposedly only found ~90g of calcium in one serving of chicken broth, but I have a feeling that this was not done according to Sally Fallon's method. After I make chicken broth in this way, the bones seem to be quite depleted of whatever contents they once had--much more so than a tenth of a gram would seem to indicate. In addition, since I break up the bones as the broth cooks (providing greater surface area from which to leach nutrients), some inevitably get ground into powder, which I do not remove from the broth. Although there are nutrient profiles of various broths on http://www.nutritiondata.self.com (originally from the USDA, I believe), these almost certainly were not prepared with vinegar over the course of 1-3 days.

I understand, of course, that there will be many variances depending on the lifestyle of the animal, the type of bones used, and so forth--but surely an average could be calculated. I am going to assume at this point that the research has not been done completely, which leads to my next question--how could we, the paleo/primal/etc community get it done? I have a feeling that a great many people in this community would be interested in the results of such an analysis.

My question for you is: does anyone have access or know anyone who has access to a nutritional lab that will analyze broth for us? If so, would it cost a lot of money? Or does anyone know how one might be able to do such a thing by oneself? What methods are used in nutrient content analysis?

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8 Replies

20 · May 05, 2012 at 09:55 PM

Here's one, showing it's not all the primal/paleo community thinks it is.


10 · July 22, 2012 at 04:28 AM

There are many articles on the internet that says bone broth contains glucosamine which can increase hyaluronic acid in joints and skin, thus aiding in joint and skin care. But there are not so many scholarly studies about this; in fact, I have failed to find a single one that touches on this subject. Personally, I am interested to find studies about how much glucosamine/hyaluronic acid is contained in animal bones, and if this glucosamine/HA content is significant to show positive results in a few broths. I am doing a research on chicken bones' effectiveness in reducing wrinkles, although it's only library research I'm doing. It is fact that hyaluronic acid reduces wrinkles by increasing hydration in the skin. Dermatology clinics have HA injections available; according to one site, applying cosmetic products with HA topically is not effective since HA is collagen and there is little penetration into the skin. And there was also this study that proves that glucosamine increases hyaluronic acid production in human synovium tissue (cartilage). Most of the time it's the joints that glucosamine is concerned with.

Here is an article about bone stock. It's an interesting read: "Cooking with Bones" from Mark's Daily Apple.

"Divining the nutritional details of traditional foods like bone stock and bone marrow is difficult, if not impossible altogether. We know stock contains gelatin, calcium, phosphate, magnesium, glucosamine, chondroitin, and other trace minerals, but what are the numbers? We’re a numbers generation; we expect to have accurate info at the tips of our fingers at all times, but that’s unrealistic. Bone composition isn’t set in stone. What the animal ate, how it lived, where it lived, the mineral content of whatever it ate, the nutrient density of whatever it ate – these all factor into the composition and content of the bones, joints, and cartilage. The nutrition facts of commercial bone meal marketed as a calcium supplement gives us a general idea of the mineral content (900 mg calcium, 360 mg phosphorus, 9 mg magnesium per serving) of bone stock. That stuff comes from powdered “cattle raised in the United States,” which undoubtedly means corn-fed, nutritionally-deficient cows. We don’t know exactly how an animal’s diet affects its bone composition, but we know that it matters. Diet plays a huge role in everything, and I’d bet that grass-fed (again, as always) results in better, more nutritious stock. Regardless of the numbers, bone stock is good for you, damn good, and being somewhat in the dark about the precise nutrient count shouldn’t dissuade you from making and using your own bone stock on a regular basis."

Quoted from that article. Sorry for the long post!

Healthy eating to you all!

3990 · February 18, 2012 at 04:31 AM

I am very interested in this topic. I have contacted the Weston A. Price Foundation to see if they had any data on this, without any success. I think this is something that the Paleo community should invest in. In any case, it is certain that the minerals available in bone broth are highly bio-available.

Here are 2 very interesting articles on bone broth:

10 · February 09, 2012 at 08:33 AM

I think you meant 90mg?

"90g of calcium in one serving of chicken broth"

0 · May 25, 2014 at 10:26 PM

It's a great question, to which I didn't see any satisfactory answer.

The study quoted was surprising because it seems to indicate only trace levels of calcium in 12 ounces of bone broth:


Equally surprising was the revelation that the amount of calcium in the cooked broth didn't seem to fluctuate much based on how much vinegar you added.

0 · January 24, 2014 at 01:33 PM

I've been trying to get some data on bone brother for several years, my current effort took me to this page. Some thoughts:

1. I think the Fallon method is way overcooking. Not sure what might come from the bones THREE DAYS?? that didn't after 3 hours. More calcium, magnesium? Do I have a deficit in those? No, not at all. And certainly such times raise the possibility that some of the organic molecules like collagen might be changed.

2. My desire for data is just for food record keeping. I'm mostly interested in the macronutrients and calories. Having said that, I realize that there are huge variables, starting with concentration/dilution.

3. My usual broth is turkey and chicken. I know birds aren't ideal for omega 6 reasons, but I don't get much in the way of beef bones. Most of my beef consumption is via ground beef. I do take fish oil capsules in hopes of balancing the omega's.

4. As to lead or other toxins, geeeeez, we are getting to the point that EVERYthing we can put in our mouths seems to have a downside. If you read the study abstract, yes, lead levels increased about ten fold..........over that of tap water, less than one millionth of a gram per liter in that. So, drink ten times as much tap water as your liter of bone broth and there you are. And no one seems to pay attention to the First Law of Toxicology (as I call it), "The dose makes the poison." We all have heavy metals and radioactive isotopes in our bodies, but we aren't all keeling over. Why? Because the "dose" is so low.

And then there are factors like selenium pairing with mercury and both get excreted. Maybe other heavy metals, too, dunno.

You will get run over by a bus or hit by lightening before you will get symptoms of lead poisoning from bone broth.

5. I do know that a paleo diet pretty well cured my bad knees. I used to often use and travel with a heavy duty knee brace. I don't even know where it is now. I can't say for certain, but I think the addition of bone broths over the last year has helped even more.

10 · August 28, 2013 at 08:25 PM

I love homemade chicken broth, so I was disturbed to read the following 2013 study about the potential of increased lead:


It may be due to chickens fed organic corn meal, etc. Perhaps if you raise your own chickens you can control their diet and reduce the lead?

0 · August 02, 2013 at 03:59 AM

Chicken broth, parsnip, sweet potato..all high in Hyaluric acid, the sugars that our body cells need to restore and rejuvenate...in combination with trans resveratrol ( not the knotweed but the grapeseed trans resveratrol) we can brew our own 'fountain of youth' cocktail...;-) in combination with a couple of other life changing choises, you're body is able to 'vibrate' on a balanced level...

Carpe diem and longevity

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