The Definitive Guide to Bone Broth Benefits

Inline_The_Definitive_Guide_to_Bone_Broth_Benefits_08.02.17I’ve been writing about bone broth for a long time. I’ve been drinking it even longer. I’m not sure you can get anything much more primal than a heap of bones cooked for hours into rich, gelatinous glory. Ritual and taste aside, however, I count quality bone broth as an important supplemental food. The copious health benefits are simply too substantial to pass up.

Some of you, I know, are bone broth fans—a few even connoisseurs. You’ve been making your own for decades, maybe with recipes you learned in your grandparents’ kitchen. But what does the average Primal type need to know about bone broth? What goes into making it? What are the distinct health advantages? Are there risks or downsides? What are the alternatives? Finally, what about some recipes? I’m glad you asked….

What is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is simply a broth made by boiling bones (often with meat still on them). Usually vinegar is added as a medium (the thought is to draw out nutrients—more on this later). Sometimes vegetables, herbs, and spices are added for additional flavor and nutrients. Whereas soup is a meal, often containing vegetables, grains, seasonings, and even beans, bone broth stands on its own and is usually more cooked than soup.

Bone broth is an ingredient than can be used to create or flavor all kinds of dishes. It contains parts of the animal we typically like to discard (like cartilage and bone marrow), all nicely broken down so we get the full dose of nutrients.

What You Need to Know about Collagen

Inside the matrix of bones, there are many proteins including collagen, which forms the inside fibrous part of the bone.

Collagen is a group of amino acids making up 25-35% of our body. It’s found in our bones, skin, joints, tendons, and ligaments. As we age, we lose collagen. This contributes to age-related joint issues, not to mention the loss of skin elasticity.

Type I is found in bone, skin, ligaments, tendons and the white of the eye, and makes up 90% of the collagen in the body. Type II is found in the cartilage. Type III is found in bone marrow and lymph, also known as reticulin fiber.

Why Is Collagen So Important?

Glycine is the primary amino acid found in collagen. And it’s a pretty significant amino acid in terms of what it does for the body. Glycine is a non-essential amino acid, meaning our body can synthesize it. However, it’s actually considered “conditionally essential,” as it’s synthesized from the amino acid serine at only about 3 grams per day—not nearly enough for our requirements.

The human body requires at least 10 grams per day for basic metabolic processes, so we have a pretty significant daily deficit that we need to get through dietary or supplement means. Most of us these days aren’t eating ligaments and tendons and rougher cuts of meat containing glycine.

Bone broth contains approximately 27.2 grams of glycine per 100 grams of protein. Therefore, it makes for a great source of this amino acid. Rather than taking an isolated glycine supplement, bone broth contains glycine with other amino acids and minerals, which act synergistically with each other. Here are a few of the benefits glycine offers….

Bone Broth Offers Gut Healing Properties

Glycine improves our digestive health, through inhibiting cytokines, thus decreasing inflammation in the gut lining. Glycine helps with sealing the mucosal layer in the intestines. It aids in liver detoxification, and helps with fructose malabsorption.

It Improves Joint Health

Contrary to what you might have heard, these non-essential proteins are pretty darn useful. A study was done on a hundred women between the ages of 40 and 70 who presented with knee joint pain or discomfort. (PDF) The results suggested that collagen increases the proteoglycan content in knee cartilage after 6 months of treatment. We need at least 10 grams of glycine each day for basic metabolic processes. One of those processes is the maintenance of the collagen in our body (the most abundant protein we carry, in fact).

Collagen concentrates where joints meet and in the connective tissue binding us together. Those 10 grams of glycine is just for maintenance, not repairing tissue after injury, or recovery from intense lifting. If you lift heavy, or are recovering from any sort of joint damage, supplementary collagen will improve your recovery.

It Can Help Keep Skin Supple

Research suggests collagen may act as a biological messenger, triggering the synthesis of new collagen fibers and extracellular matrix recognition by stimulating fibroblasts.

It Restores Glutathione

Glutathione protects against oxidative stress, and helps decrease the impact of bad estrogens that can build up over time, compromising our hormonal health.

It May Improve Cognition

N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors play a significant role in learning and memory. Targeting the glycine modulatory site of the NMDA receptor has been suggested as a therapeutic strategy to improve cognition. Glycine is considered an “inhibitory neurotransmitter,” and can act in the brain similarly to an antidepressant, without all the side effects.

It Can Improve Sleep Quality

It does this by decreasing core body temperature and increasing cutaneous blood flow. Cooler body temp means deeper sleep. One of my go-to “sleep hacks” is a big mug of bone broth about an hour before bed. It always knocks me out (in a good, non-narcotic way). And according to research, I’m not making this up or suffering from placebo. Human studies show that 3 grams of glycine taken before bed increases the quality of your sleep and reduces daytime sleepiness following sleep restriction. Sipping bone broth before bed provides a bioavailable source of glycine, helping us achieve deeper, more restorative sleep at night.

Other Key Nutrients in Bone Broth

Cartilage: the Home of Chondroitin and Glucosamine

When is the last time you felt the urge to chew on a juicy piece of cartilage? Probably not so much. We tend to discard those parts of the animal containing cartilage like the nose, ears, and joints. However, joint cartilage is easily broken down in well-cooked bone broth. Cartilage contains collagen protein and elastin. Elastin fibers play a big role in maintaining the integrity, elasticity, and the mechanical properties of cartilage.

Cartilage also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, both well known supplements for arthritic pain, particularly in the knees. In this study, glucosamine–chondroitin combined resulted in a statistically significant reduction in joint space narrowing at two years. Seeing as how those supplements get the chondroitin sulfate directly from animal cartilage, why not just eat the cartilage, or a bone broth made with plenty of cartilaginous substrate? Be sure to use bones with joints, like chicken feet and beef knuckles. Chicken backs are also a great source of chondroitin and glucosamine.

Bone Marrow: Deep in the Inner Matrix of the Bone

Bone marrow, found deep in the center of the bone, is also worth noting. There are two types: red bone marrow and yellow bone marrow. Yellow bone marrow is higher in fat cells, whereas red bone marrow is higher in platelets. Red bone marrow contains reticulin fibers, or type III collagen. Chicken bones have higher red marrow and make for a more flavorful broth. Bone marrow is fatty and gelatinous, and the marrow contains most of the minerals. Cooking bones longer (24-36 hours) will yield more of those minerals into the broth.

Bone Marrow Fat Is More Than Just Fat

A University of Michigan-led study shows that the fat tissue in bone marrow is a significant source of a hormone called adiponectin. These researchers discovered that the adiponectin in bone marrow helps with insulin sensitivity, and has been linked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity-associated cancers.

Hyaluronic Acid: slippery synovial lubricant

Sure you can get powdered gelatins, but these do not contain many of the valuable nutrients that work synergistically with gelatin, such as hyaluronic acid. Found in many high end beauty serums, hyaluronic acid is the main component in synovial fluid, acting as a joint lubricant. You can also find hyaluronic acid in the bones and the connective tissue (usually attached to the bones). This study compared hyaluronic acid with NSAIDs for knee osteoarthritis. Both worked about the same, but hyaluronic acid is a safer alternative.

Proline: another noteworthy amino acid in bone broth

Let’s not ignore proline. Proline forms the structure of collagen, and like glycine, is a “conditionally essential” amino acid that we can get through our diet. To the point, it’s found in bone broth. Proline is needed to build collagen, to increase collagen synthesis in human fibroblast cells. As a result, it’s an important amino acid for skin health. Proline is great for healing, especially after intense workouts or straining the body. Animal studies suggest that proline helps with skin wound healing. People recovering from injuries have a higher need for proline. And don’t forget, heavy lifting is a stress to the body that requires recovery.

What about Minerals?

Bone broth can be high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium—with one caveat.

Recent research showed that bones cooked for more than eight hours were found not to exceed low tenths of a milligram per serving, or <5% of the daily recommended levels of calcium and magnesium. Another study highlighted veal bones sliced open to expose the marrow, placed in water with vinegar (more on vinegar later), and boiled for nine hours. The mineral loss from bones into the broth was extremely low—just a few milligrams of calcium and magnesium.

Keep in mind that longer cooking times (24-36 hours), where the meat falls of the bone and the bone really breaks down, tend to yield different results. It takes a long time for bones to break down and to get those interior nutrients. The marrow contains most of the minerals. Therefore, I probably wouldn’t rely on bone broth as a primary source of minerals if cooking under 24 hours, but with a longer cooking time I’d expect decent mineral content.

Are There Any Negatives to Bone Broth?

I’ve discussed many of the nutrients and positive benefits of bone broth, now let’s dive into some potential drawbacks. One concern often brought to my attention is the potential level of heavy metals found in bone broth. Some research says to avoid it because of markedly high lead concentrations, while other research suggests that the risks associated with the ingestion of heavy metals such as Pb and Cd in broth are minimal, since levels were extremely low.

I’m not too worried. That second study had several limitations, which the Weston A. Price Foundation has covered pretty well. The focus should be on sourcing of the bones. What matters is how much lead the animals you’re using to make broth are exposed to throughout their lives. I’d like to see a comparison between chicken broths made from animals from different farms and environments.

The animals’ environments and upbringing are everything. Weston Price describes a follow-up study into two broths made from grass-fed beef bones and pasture-raised chicken bones that was unable to detect any lead in either. This despite the chickens having plenty of access to dirt and all the same dirt-dusting proclivities their kind is known for.

Another concern I often hear about is the glutamate content. Bone broth that cooks for over 48 hours releases more glutamate, which raises concerns for people with neurological issues such as autism, ADHD, and multiple sclerosis. The theory is that excess free glutamate found in long cooked broths may cross the blood brain barrier (for those with “leaky brain”) and may be harmful for these particular folks.

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter and is naturally high in some nutritious foods such as bone broth, soups, and even sauerkraut. This doesn’t condemn the food and make it toxic. Most of us can process it just fine. Glutamate is only an issue if the person is highly sensitive to it. If you’re sensitive to glutamate or have a neurological condition of some kind, you may need to start with shorter cooking times, and gradually building up to see what you can handle. Keep in mind that there are many other foods we consume that are much higher in glutamate than bone broth. In my opinion the health benefits far outreach glutamate concerns for most people.

Beyond these suggestions, downsides you might hear include the taste and convenience. Oftentimes, when people tell me they just can’t stomach bone broth, I’m skeptical of what they’ve tried in the past. Recipe makes a big difference (as with any food). Let’s just say I’ve been able to change quite a few people’s minds with the good stuff. That said, others never quite get over the aversion. It’s just to their thing.

Likewise, it is a time commitment to make your own. It’s not hard. In fact,  I dare say a basic bone broth is one of the simplest things you can cook. You just need time, which I know isn’t always practical. Carrying it around isn’t always easiest either. But the benefits of collagen are frankly too good for your health to pass up.

(Of course, that’s why I created Collagen Fuel and Collagen Bars—because I wanted an alternative for myself and others who desire a more convenient collagen source at times.)

But now let’s get down to the real business….

How to Make an Awesome Bone Broth

Add Vinegar to My Broth? Yes or No?

I used to religiously add a big glug or two of vinegar to every batch of broth, but not anymore. I’ve never actually noticed a difference. The reason being is that the broth would need to be much more acidic to draw out the minerals. A splash of vinegar doesn’t really work, and you don’t want your broth to be pure vinegar. Another option I’ve discussed before is to simmer the bones in red wine first, then add water, or to smash the bones in vinegar before cooking, increasing the surface area exposed to cooking. Both of those methods can draw out more minerals.

Which Bones Will Give Me the Richest, Most Gelatinous Broth?

For the most luxurious, gelatinous flavorful broth, be sure to favor bones with joints. You want those intersections and moving parts! This is where the cartilage, collagen, and synovial fluid are highest, translating into legit bone broth. Include parts like knuckles, feet, tails, necks, backs, wings, and ears! Don’t be afraid to even cook the head of the animal in your broth. Bone broth is a great way to be resourceful, and use the entire animal.

Broth Variations and Recipes

Over the years I’ve shared a variety of recipes and variations for making different broths. Here is a compilation of my bone broth variations: chicken bone broth four ways, and turkey stock. It’s fun to play around with different seasonings, different bones, with and without vegetables, roasting and not roasting the bones, etc.

For those of you who enjoy bone broth but would rather not always cook your own (I’m one), I asked Kettle & Fire (a company, in the interest of full disclosure, that I believe in and even invested in) to offer a deal to MDA readers who wanted to try their product. Depending on the package you order, you’ll get up to 3 FREE cartons when you order their chicken bone broth (excellent flavor in my book). 

That’s it for me, folks. Let me open it up for discussion now. Questions, additional recipes, comments? What’s your unique reason (or favorite way) to enjoy bone broth? Thanks for stopping by, and take care.

Primal Kitchen Frozen Bowls

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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98 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Bone Broth Benefits”

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  1. Even though I’m young, I have joint pain often. So bone broth has been on my list for awhile now. But I’m wondering, does making it at home have any nutritional benefits over buying it?
    Also, has anyone tried Epic’s broth? I always see it at the store, but I’ve never been brave enough to try it.

    1. Manufacturers of processed foods take a lot of shortcuts in the interest of saving time, effort, and money. Quality and flavor will almost always be inferior to anything homemade. Bone broth is probably no exception. You would be better off making your own. Just my two cents…

      1. I’ve actually tried the Kettle and Fire bone broth, and looked into the company. They do the long, slow simmer – 20 hours – and they use organic/grass fed bones.
        Compared to some of the other bone broth out there, they rank the best in taste and quality in my book. To boot, I found them in my local Whole Foods, so when I buy a case of 6, I get the 10% discount.

        1. I was not impressed with the taste of Kettle and Fire. For that price, I expected it to taste better than Swansons.

    2. It tends to be a lot cheaper to make it than to buy it. What I do is save my bones in the freezer until I have a full gallon sized bag, then pop them in a pot with water, vinegar, onions, carrots, celery (and anything else I’m interested in throwing in there veggie wise) also spices that I’m feeling (cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, salt and pepper etc.)

      I’ve had the EPIC broth and its good but REALLY expensive for something you ideally want to have every day.

      1. That’s what I do too. Save the bones from rotisserie chicken in one freezer bag, and veggie ends and parings in another. Then every couple of weeks I make a potful. I also add 3 or 4 chicken feet (found in any Asian or Hispanic grocery) and it’ll gel up firm as can be.

    3. I agree with Shary… bone broth requires too much love… too much time… too much wisdom that grows from batch to batch to be mass produced and put into a box without compromise. I am sure that there are quality products out there that offer benefit… just no substitute for the labor of love that goes into making it yourself.

      1. Agreed. I perused the Kettle & Fire reviews on Amazon, and not a few were quite negative — smelled and tasted bad, carton contained nothing but water, tasteless, way too expensive, etc. Why not just make your own? After you’ve done it 2 or 3 times, it becomes second nature.

    4. The store bought stuff is expensive considering it costs almost nothing to make your own except the time it takes to throw the stuff in the pot and let it simmer – crock pots are great for that. The bone broth at Costco is about $20.00 for 4 small containers and even tho it’s touted as “organic” heaven only knows what’s in it. i’d venture to guess it’s not nearly as good quality as your own brew.

      We save all the chicken bones: legs, thighs, breast bones, back bones, etc. from dinner. Freeze them in a large freezer bag until the bag is full and then just dump the whole bag in the crock pot. This way you get to eat the chicken then the bird does double-duty by providing some nice broth. (The same applies to beef bones, etc.) Sorta goes along with the eat head-to-tail concept. Also, if you can find some chicken feet they have lots of collagen in them. They’re just about free from the local meat department at your grocery store.

      I have tried it in an Instant Pot but don’t know if the quality is the same as a crock pot or letting it simmer on the stove. I’d be interested in an analysis of the difference between the methods.

      1. I’ve made my own many times but it’s A LOT of work. I found the Sam’s Club brand at Walmart for $2.28 per 32 oz carton! And I even order it online so it’s delivered to my door! I purchase the Chicken Reduced sodium and add 1/8 tsp of Montreal Steak Seasoning to my one cup serving – because I just love the taste of it on EVERYTHING. (The beef bone broth is NOT grass fed and no reduced sodium so I don’t buy beef broth from them.)

    5. I’ve tried epic’s beef jalapeño broth. It’s pretty good, but difficult to justify the price.

  2. Hello – I am wondering if anybody has any opinions on the Pacific Organic Bone Broth one can get at Costco. I’m skeptical it is the “good stuff.” Also, do collagen peptide powders offer the same benefits?

    1. I like to make my own bone broth in the crock pot. However I have also been known to pour some of that Costco Pacific Organic Broth (which I also cook with) into a mug, and add a tablespoon of an organic gelatin powder that I buy off Amazon for extra “oomph”. I heat it and drink it and relish it! Having said that, I would be interested in what others have to say about the relative quality of store bought vs. the “liquid gold” I make in my crock pot, which can become very gelatinous indeed when cold! (yum)!

    2. To be certain, collagen peptides offer many benefits… however, collagen peptides will not contain bone marrow (nor) bone matrix which is at the heart of whole bone extracts and bone soups… this is because almost all commercial collagen supplements come from the hides, not the bones. There are a few companies that include whole bone extract (with the marrow) and collagen peptides but it is expensive and there are plenty of manufacturing issues here.

      That said, nothing is better than a well prepared homemade batch of bone soup… if you can’t do it, consider one of the commercial pre-made products. Next in line would be supplements… you already know about collagen peptides and then there are whole bone extracts / bone marrow supplements too. Good luck!

    3. From what I’ve read Nicole for a commercial product it’s pretty good, they do simmer for 12 hours. I drink two cups a day and mix in a teaspoon of coconut oil and olive oil. I also drink a protein shake every day that’s half collagen protein powder and half veggie sourced protein. I’ll usually eat half of one of Mark’s collagen bars each day and I also take collagen types I, II and III. I’m simply not going to make my own bone broth, maybe if I retire some day, so that will have to do for me. 🙂

    4. Tastes great, good base for soup. I always add a little extra gelatin though. Or a lot.

    5. I think Pacific is flavored water, but have not investigated. I want to be able to control the simmer, as low as possible. Low and slow is best. I’ll just bet that commercial boxes are cooked at a high temperature and are fairly dilute. If you put in the bones, you know the ratio of bone weight to water volume. If for some reason you have cooked at too fast a boil and broken the collagen chains, it is still there as well as the the minerals — and you know it.

  3. The article linked about pain relief from hyaluronic acid involves injecting it into the joints. Not clear from a brief Google search if taking it orally serves the same purpose.

  4. I keep mine going outside for 4-5 days in a slow cooker. Every day I scoop a bunch out for a large cup of broth, then just add a bit more water to top it off. By the 5th day my broth looks almost black. Delicious. This also makes it so I don’t have to keep making more broth all the time.

    1. I have no idea how these commercial companies are simmering for only 20 hours and calling it bone broth…

      I like what you’re doing… It’s hard to get more primal than that! Well played.

  5. How does bone broth made in an Instant Pot/pressure cooker stack up against the slow–long cooked method?

        1. I have this pressure cooker

          It makes 8-10 quarts of great broth after straining. I brown my grass fed turkey necks or beef bones in bacon fat. Then deglaze the pan with filtered water. Add back the bones till pot half full. Add 1-2 onions, skins onion, 4-5 stalks celery, handful garlic cloves, 2-3 carrots. all roughly chopped. Then 2 tsp salt, a tablespoon of peppercorns, 8-10 bay leaves, large handful of parsley. Fill the pot with water till you reach the maximun fill line. Lock lid, heat till pressurized. Once up to pressure, let it go for 45 to 60 minutes. Let come down to room pressure, remove solids. strain broth into mason jars (about 3/4 full) and freeze. You need to allow room for expansion. I oftern atart a batch while cleaning up from dinner, and let it cool overnight. I strain in the morning once cool. IT is a pressurized container so hygenic. Never had a problem.

        2. I use my instantpot too- just keep a bag in the freezer for bones and veggie scraps, then add some good marrow bones, garlic, ginger and a sheet of nori seaweed. Add water and cook! I think it’s ~90 minutes compared to several days in a crock pot.

      1. I used to make large batches in my crock pot but the chicken broth rarely gelled. Then I began making it in a pressure cooker, and what a difference! Also faster (3 hrs) and less carbon to make a nice, thick broth, loaded with collagen.

    1. Much prefer the ease and flavor of the Instant Pot version over crock pot. I collect bones in the freezer, keep a bag of onion skins and other veggie pieces in the freezer to throw in, some red wine and half an organic bullion cube. Seems chicken and beef bones are best by themselves, but lamb and pork go together well.

    2. I make all my broth in a pressure cooker. It produces a gelatinous product much faster than boiling in an open pot and tastes better.

    3. I’ve used Nom Nom’s Paleo’s recipe for the instant pot weekly for about a year. Does the high temp/pressure make the fats, etc more dangerous vs a slow cooker?

    4. I used to cook my bone broth in a crock pot for 24 hours to get that dark rich broth. Now I use the InstantPot and make the same rich broth in 3 hours. Get the bones from a chicken and add to the InstantPot with 2-3 carrots, 2 celery stalks, one large onion quartered with skin on, 2 garlic cloves smashed with skin on, a couple of bay leaves and 1 tsp. salt. Cover with water and cook for 3 hours.

  6. Great article thank you Mark And timely, I have a pot of boiled chicken carcass in the fridge right now that I’m going to finish up with spices and veggies. I hadn’t heard about the broth before bed so I’m going to give that a shot tonight.. it’s hot and smoky here so hopefully that will cool things the bedroom at least 😀

  7. — “In the Chinese paradigm, bone marrow is considered the deepest tissue of the body and contains the essence of the being. It?s an interesting correlation to consider that modern science has shown that within bone marrow are high concentrations of stem cells, the very organizing influences, and genetic material, for the being. It is these essential nutrients that help our bodies continue to build healthy, vital constitutions and repair cellular damage.” Source — “Healing Powers of Chicken Bone Broth!” The Whole Journey

    A few weeks ago we had the awesome post about bone health… I put so much effort into my comment (we’re talking part time job effort here), I thought it would be okay if I recycled some of it since it is so relevant (maybe even more valuable now). When bone soups are properly prepared, you get “whole bone extract” which contains:

    – Bone Matrix, Bone Marrow And Cartilage
    – Nutrients Exclusively Found And Expressed In Whole Bone Extract… (Proteins, Peptides, Enzymes & Co-factors)
    – High Concentrations Of Stem Cells And Base Cells
    – Collagen, Growth Factors, Fat Soluble Activators (A, D, K)…
    – Glycosaminoglycans Naturally Present in Bone Matrix

    There are two types of bone marrow: red marrow (also known as myeloid tissue) and yellow marrow. Red blood cells, platelets and most white blood cells arise in red marrow; some white blood cells develop in yellow marrow. That said, throw in some in varied pieces of bones, ligaments and tendons when making your broth.


    – Bone Health (think bones, marrow and teeth)… Based On “Like Supports Like”
    – Connective Tissue (think ligaments, tendons, skin)…Based On “Like Supports Like”
    – Dental Health And Immune Health
    – Supports And Repairs Cellular Damage

    The fossil record shows a number of caves w/ long evidence of human habitation, going all the way back to the Paleolithic period. All of these caves contained ancient fire pits. And all of these caves contained the remnants of large piles of bones. The bones that were found were animal bones. Almost without exception, they had been cracked open, and every trace of the marrow removed.

    Fire up the Instant Pots!! Get your primal on… if it was good for our early ancestors, it was / is baked into our DNA!!

  8. Using a pressure cooker reduces cooking time to 4 – 7 hours, depending on how much you want to break down the bones/connective tissue.

  9. How does bone broth compare to buying collagen powder and putting it in smoothies?
    Very convenient compared to boiling bones.

    1. I answered this for Nicole above… most commercially available collagen peptides will not contain bone marrow (nor) bone matrix which is at the heart of whole bone extracts and bone soups… this is because almost all commercial collagen supplements come from the hides, not the bones.

      Bone soups provide bone matrix, bone marrow, cartilage and collagen peptides.

  10. When is the last time you felt the urge to chew on a juicy piece of cartilage?
    About two seconds after i read the lede.
    I was a collagen junky…nothing better as a kid was the bone and its accoutrement from a lamb/pork chop…especially that little button of spinal column in the notch.

  11. I have never been much of a “soup guy.” For most of my life it was a filler food that came out of a can when nothing else was available or something I ate when sick and couldn’t stomach much else. Then… then I started making my own broth. It really began when I processed my own whole chickens: keep the spine and save the bones from the other bits when the chicken is consumed. Easy, peasy.

    A pressure cooker makes it absurdly convenient too. Toss bones, veggie trimmings, onion skins in particular, and peppercorns into a pot, add a bit of fish sauce, fill with water, and cook for a couple hours. (Getting a fat separator isn’t bad either.) I generally have a half gallon hanging around in the fridge for soups, sauces, or… poor it in a cup, heat it, and mix in some salt.

    The real stuff will often turn into something resembling Jello in the fridge. This is excellent for soups and mouthfeel in general.

    I can’t say enough good stuff about broth. It has great health benefits, it’s calming (for me anyway), it makes use of more of the animal, and it is vastly superior to stuff in cartons or bullion cubes—vastly superior.

    1. As an aside, smoked bones make for the best tasting stuff. Either stripped from the carcass of a smoked turkey or, sometimes, I’ll toss things like chicken spines in the drip pan while smoking some other meat. It’s awesome.

    2. Hopefully the pressure cooker will also cut down on the fragrance? I love to make my own broth except in my little place it makes me tired of it after about one day, then it takes a LONG time before I want to make it again. Sigh.

      1. It does. You basically get a jolt of the smell when you release pressure (which you can avoid by not doing a quick release). The other thing about pressure cookers versus slower methods is that all that stuff you smell all day… is flavor going into the air. It’s gone. It’s why slow cooker meals smell so good all day and often end up bland.

        I’ve expanded my cooking techniques a lot lately and use my pressure cooker way less than I used to (sous-vide has, in many ways, taken that role) but owning a pressure cooker purely to do broth is worth it for my own purposes.

  12. After I make my bone broth, I typically freeze the left overs that I do not eat, after a week or so. Does that harm any of the beneficial aspects of it, and does simply reheating suffice?

  13. I’m already buying 20 containers a month. Love it, especially the chicken; it tastes like chicken noodle soup without the noodle. Yum.
    Best feature is it curbs my appetite big time. One little sip and hunger goes away for an hour or two so it’s a great way to get through a daily fast, just take another sip.
    I just wish it would heal my sore thumbs and wrists. 61 years of turning wrenches has taken its toll. Maybe in time it will.

  14. I grew up on home made broths.. I am Polish. Love them!! Now drink them at work instead of tea or coffee. My latest is the pork broth. I made ribs for dinner and before I bake them, I give them a good boil till they are soft. I added to the water: salt, whole pepper, lots of garlic and bay leaves. The broth is fantastic!!

  15. Important question: I understand that the outer covering of spinal discs is made of collagen. If someone has “bulging discs,” (which are causing pain, in this case sciatica), and this person has spent decades on a low-fat high carb diet, wouldn’t bone broth (or gelatin) be good for disc recovery? In discussions about bone broth and gelatin I see references to joint, tendon and skin health, also gut health, but I have not seen this point covered anywhere. Thought from the community?


      Bone Matrix, Bone Marrow And Cartilage *
      Nutrients Exclusively Found And Expressed In Whole Bone Extract *
      High Concentrations Of Stem Cells And Base Cells *
      Collagen, Growth Factors And Fat Soluble Activators *
      Glycosaminoglycans Naturally Present in Bone Matrix *

      NOTE: There are two types of bone marrow: red marrow (also known as myeloid tissue) and yellow marrow. Red blood cells, platelets and most white blood cells arise in red marrow; some white blood cells develop in yellow marrow.*


      Bone Health (think bones, marrow and teeth)… Based On “Like Supports Like” *
      Connective Tissue Health (think ligaments, tendons, cartilage, skin)…Based On “Like Supports Like” *
      Dental Health And Immune Health *
      Supports And Repairs Cellular Damage *

    1. I have the Jarrow you mentioned. Taste is good however there is only 1700mg of collagen in a serving so I wouldn’t rely on it as your only source.

  16. Every none and then, my butcher will hand me a few pieces of bony cartilage that has a little meat attached to eat. When cooked, the meat curls to the sides and the bone turns snow white and very crunchy. According to him there’s very little of it so he has to be frugal because everyone want’s it. The closest photo that exemplify it, was under dog bones []. I wish I knew which section of the cow it came from.

    By the way, I added a little fish sauce to my mug of bone broth per your recommendation and really liked it.

  17. A number of months a year, the fishmonger at our local farmer’s market has gorgeous, wild caught shrimp from Baja California, which I get every week, when available. As I clean the shrimp, I save the legs, shells, and tails (the heads, alas, are already gone), and add them to the weekly chicken carcass broth. It is stunningly good: just a little fishy, in a marvelous way. A serendipitous discovery from my inability to throw anything away. Enjoy!

  18. Great post! I’m a big believer in bone broth and do make it from time to time. I’ll save bones from roasted chicken in zip loc bags in the freezer until I have time to make it. I use Kettle & Fire as well…taste is excellent! I posted a recipe a few months ago for kale cooked with broth that has a great flavor. But no matter what I do, I never get around to using broth every day, so I totally rely on collagen products!

  19. I would love to know if anyone has had any success with making bone broth with wild game, and if there are any health concerns. I am new to making broth. My husband is an avid hunter so I have access to bones of game mammals and birds (deer, squirrel, rabbit, turkey, goose, duck, dove, pheasant, quail, etc.). I assume they mostly forage on natural food sources, but we live in a highly agricultural area, so I know (and based on the contents of their stomach or gizzard) that they also eat corn and soybeans (GMO I am sure). I am also concerned about the deer, which can carry EHD and CWD (both eventually fatal to the deer), and if this can be passed on in the broth. Of course, we have eaten the cooked meat with no problem, but I wonder about boiling the bones. I hate to waste all these nice bones if they are usable.

    1. I made my first batch of venison bone broth last winter and I loved how it turned out. As for the concerns, I don’t believe EHD can be passed onto humans at all (based on several wildlife agency websites). If you’re in an area where CWD is really prevalent, you may want to get your deer tested first before you make any (you can freeze the bones in the meantime).

      Here’s my recipe/experiment if you’re interested.

  20. I was just thinking I needed to start making bone broth. I take collagen in my morning coffee daily but there’s just something about a hot cup of broth… thanks Mark 🙂

  21. It isn’t the time involved that is the struggle for me, but where to find free range/grass fed bones? I am a single person, so I buy single cuts of both meats, but I don’t get enough bones together.

    1. Just go to your butcher and ask if you can have the bones. At my farmer’s market they will charge you a bit. At my local little butcher they will just give me the bones.

  22. My instantpot has made it even easier to keep up on bone broth, using pressure mode. I also add a sheet of seaweed into mine for added minerals and umami- it does not add a seafood element, just tastiness!

  23. I dont hear much about using a pressure cooker for making bone broth. Two hours is a whole lot better than 24 – 48! And what about reusing the bones again for another batch?

    1. I make the first batch for us humans, the second batch from the same bones for our dogs. In the pressure cooker, the second batch generally gels just as well.

      1. That is the only thing that frustrates me about using my instant pot for broth–it seems to make less than my (also 6 qt) slow cooker did. So I make a batch, strain it, put the bones back in and add more bones if there’s room, then make a second batch–but not for the dogs! I mix both batches so the flavor is equally good.

  24. Hello, Mark! I have a question. I’m a fan of the IF protocol, but I like to eat a tablespoon of honey, of coconut oil, and drink a big mug of bone broth 30 m – 1 hr before sleep.

    It knocks me out good. I’m following your suggestions for sleep!!

    The problem is that my schedule is most compatible with a eating window from 8 AM to 12 PM, so say I drink the bone broth at 9 PM; I fear it could affect the autophagy effects of fasting.

    Are the quantities mentioned going to break fasting-induced autophagy? If so, how could I make it up, if I still drink before bed because it’s so helpful?

    Should I try to make a compromise or, say, add 2 daily-long fasts a week; or one 5 day-long fast a month, or whatever, for enhanced autophagy? What would be most effective?

    If I cyclically switch between a carb-loaded crossfit training period (high stress and high energy requirements) and a more relaxed ketogenic weightlifting training period (maintenance rather than constant pushing), what’s the best course of action for each scenario?

    1. Excellent question! I was wondering the same thing as I try to avoid eating 3hrs before bed. Will a cup of rich broth disrupt the program? Hope not, it really does improves my sleep like nothing else.

  25. Oh yeah! So great to see this post! As a holistic nutritionist with a paleo/WAP focus I advise all of my clients to make and drink high quality bone broth every day. This is completely anecdotal, but when I started drinking bone broth on a regular basis I noticed that the occasional eyebrow that was coming in grey started to turn brown again! Grey at the tip and brown at the BASE! I’ve been a convert ever since…lol. Even holistic nutritionist’s aren’t immune to the powers of anti-aging food.

  26. I get pork bones from the farmer’s market. Spines and necks, joints and feet. They make a fabulous broth. I never roast the bones, just toss ~10 lbs. in my 12 qt. stock pot and simmer at barely a bubble for 36-48 hours, taking the meat bits off after a few hours. Broth always is gelled thick. I add only ginger and turmeric root while cooking, and Celtic salt at the end, adding veggies when I make a broth bowl or soup. My question is about roasting the bones. Some people say absolutely you must do it. I don’t, and the broth is great. What is the benefit? Where do you weigh in? // Also, what do you do w heavy bones after 36+ hrs. of cooking them. Still not soft. Do you just toss? Thanks.

  27. I don’t see any reason to pay for expensive bone broth when it’s so easy to make. Just throw it in the slow cooker and you don’t have to babysit it. We cook a roaster chicken in the slow cooker (with an onion, an apple, and herb rub) and then throw the bones and skin back into the slow cooker. Fill it with water, 24 hours on low and we have a great and super cheap broth.

    1. If you live near an Asian neighborhood, you can buy chicken feet very cheeply. Add 3 or 4 to the pot and the resulting broth will gel up very firm. Hispanic markets sometimes also stock chicken feet.

  28. I have a question- my butcher sells bag of bones for $2. They would be perfect for broth making, however they are labeled “dog bones” and are not stored cold (they just sit in a trolley in the middle of the shop). Would they be safe to use for broth making?

  29. Excellent guide. Alveolar bone forms the ridges in which the teeth are embedded. These ridges often atrophy both vertically and horizontally with age. Anyone know of research studies connecting regular bone broth consumption with strong teeth / healthy jawbones in older adults?

  30. I don’t want to get bogged down in semantics but isn’t broth made with meat and stock made with bone?

    1. Yep. Bone broth is just a newer name for stock that has been simmered for many hours. Personally, I’ve found that bones and water, with nothing else added, has very little flavor. The addition of fresh meat and vegetables will produce a nicely jelled broth when refrigerated and will taste much better.

  31. Any pork bone broth recipes out there? I have about 12lbs of pork bones but haven’t had a clue on what to do with them.

    Thanks in advance.

  32. I bought an Instant pot just for bone broth as I was bored of slow cooking for 48 hours and the whole house smelled of it. I’ve done broth loads of times and never got it to gel. With Instant Pot, I set the setting to “Soup” then cook it under high pressure for 6 hours. What came out was amazing ( and no smell in the house! ). Amber-dark-brown and crystal clear. Put it in the fridge an had a beautiful yellow-ish disk of fat on top in the morning ( looking like white chocolate ) that I broke in pieces and put in a jar and use for cooking.

    I have a cup with pepper, salt and a bit of full fat cream in the morning on non fasting days and first thing when I get home on fasting days. It’s delicious and the bones and veggies cost me £4, giving me a week’s worth of gelatinous broth compared to £2 per small 250 ml pot in the shop.

    Another thing, the bones I use are big meaty beef bones. They never got soft and crumbled when I slow cooked them – even if I did it for 3 days. With instant pot they just turned into dust when I squeezed them.

  33. I’d be interested in a breakdown of pressure cooker broth vs slow cooker broth. I stopped using my slow cooker when I got a pressure cooker since I found the latter to produce a lot tastier broth as well as making the broth way thicker. It turns into super thick jelly after a short while in the fridge. (Not to mention the pressure cooker does the job in under an hour). Are there any benefits to using a slow cooker instead of a pressure cooker though?

    1. I mean, I found the PRESSURE cooker to produce a tastier and thicker broth. 🙂 The stuff my slow cooker made would sometimes have a really bad taste/smell!

  34. How much less good is it to use store-bought gelatine and eat that as is or dissolved in water? For when you can’t see yourself going through a kitchen process involving pots and bones.

    1. I answered this for Nicole above… commercially available collagen (or store-bought gelatin) will not contain the nourishment in bone soups… i.e. the bone marrow (nor) bone matrix which is at the heart of bone soups. This is because commercial collagen supplements come from the hides, not the bones.

      Bone soups provide bone matrix, bone marrow, cartilage and collagen peptides. Hope this helps!

  35. That’s literally the only study I’ve ever heard of that supports the use of Glucosamine/chondroitin. Furthermore, “statistical significance” is not the same as clinical significance.

  36. Do you still get the major benefits (i.e. collagen/bone marrow and all their benefits) if you don’t have access to/can’t afford grass-fed or pastured bones?

    1. Don’t do it!! In concentrated feed lots, unhealthy animals accumulate toxins in fat tissues and the CNS… lots of fat tissues here (especially in the marrow)… for anyone that has made bone soup before, you know what I’m talking about.

      Try a bit harder to find bones from healthy animals… reach out to butchers, farmers, meat markets… I bet you can find them on the cheap.

  37. Don’t be intimidated by this! If you have a crock pot, it’s easier than falling off a log.

    Many of our meals include some kind of meat on the bone – roasts, ribs, neck bones, etc. After that “first meal” we take the bones and leftover meat and tough parts and cover them with water in the crock pot, set to low, and walk away for about 12 hours or so.

    At this point, I like to drain everything off but the actual bones (meat, broth, fat, etc). I find that if I leave the meat and fat in much longer, the meat turns to fibrous strings, and the fat sometimes gets a little funky (especially grass-fed beef).

    Then I refill with water and let the bones go for another 24 hours by themselves. That’s all there it to it.

    After that’s done, the bones are soft enough to feed to our hogs (reduce, reuse, recycle!), and the stock and meat can be added back in for whatever we’re going to make with the broth.

    You can do it, and everything you cook that calls for broth or stock will be far tastier than before.

  38. I Like Bone broth, but i did not know so much about it!
    I am agree lenora in the comment “It tends to be a lot cheaper to make it than to buy it.” I do it too.

    Thanks Mark for this post! 🙂

  39. Protip: I like to use cow feet in my beef bone broth. I do a 1:1 ration feet to knuckle bones. Beef feet, or any large animal feet can give the broth a funky taste (smelly feet?). To avoid this I boil the feet for ten minutes, then remove them from the water and put them with the other bones and pour fresh water over.

    1. Nothing provides targeted support to build and repair like the stem cells found in the marrow. Bone soups are the best for preventing and healing injuries.

      — “In the Chinese paradigm, bone marrow is considered the deepest tissue of the body and contains the essence of the being. It?s an interesting correlation to consider that modern science has shown that within bone marrow are high concentrations of stem cells, the very organizing influences, and genetic material, for the being. It is these essential nutrients that help our bodies continue to build healthy, vital constitutions and repair cellular damage.” * [1] —

  40. Can anyone comment on fish broth benefits? I catch fresh gulf fish and wondering if making fish broth with the bones, heads, tail, etc has similar benefits? I hate to waste most of the fish after eating the meat.

    1. Sally Fallon says that fish broth is very healthy if you have thyroid problems, as the fish’s thyroid is located in it’s head. And it takes a fraction of time to make, compared to land-based animals. Just avoid using oily fishes, such as salmon, in your broth as boiling will oxidize the fats.

  41. I’m late to this and did not read all the comments. I wanted to shout out for fish bones fins and heads. Most fishermen and fish mongers discard these when filleting their catch. Halibut is my favorite with lemon rind, thyme and shalots.

  42. I have a lot of beef broth in the freezer made from grass-fed bones. I got a beautiful layer of yellow fat after boiling which I skimmed off, but it still tastes very fatty and almost gamey, a bit too strong for me. I only use it for strongly-flavored stews and soups (during wintertime), but would like to be able to just drink it. Any suggestions of what kind of flavorings could I add to cut through the fatty taste?

  43. I’m more inclined to just eat the bones and gristly bits. Whenever I roast a whole bird for the family I get dibs on the back and other bony bits. That way they are not wasted and everybody is happy.

  44. I’ve been a hunter all my life, but we never used the bones growing up. Last winter, I decided to save them to try my hand at venison bone broth. It turned out great and I used it all up in stews and braised meat before summer even arrived!

    I wrote about my experiment at the link below, but I’m curious if anyone else has tried wild game bone broth?

  45. Deliciousness recipe; Use any beef bones “dog bones” labeled are great too plus chicken carcass, turkey neck etc.
    Add some regular stuff like onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, a little celery.
    The best spice is to get a pho pack of spices that include things like Chinese start anise, cinnamon, cardamon, pepper etc. Look in the Asian aisle or go to an Asian store.
    Add water in a huge pot with a lot of the bones. Too much is impossible. Cook on low to a soft boil for as many hours as you can stand. The smell and aroma is torture until you get a cup. This is actually a base recipe for Vietnamese pho soup. Just add rice noodles, and mostly raw sliced beef with cilantro, fresh sliced onions, green onions, mint, bean sprouts, basil and some siracha, cut jalapeno and hoison sauce

  46. Super interesting stuff. As of recent, I’ve taken more interest in understanding where my food (and in particular my meat) comes from. Bone broth wasn’t even on my radar! Taking nourishment from animal parts other than meat makes so much sense. Thank you for opening this up to me. I’m looking forward to integrating bone broth into my diet 🙂

  47. What concerns me is the fat oxidizing. Should I skim away the fat since the MUFA and PUFA portions of chicken fat become oxidized due to the heat and exposure to oxygen?

    I don’t make bone broth, but I like cooking 14 chicken drumsticks for 2 hours, cooling the broth, and then eating the solidified broth as jelly.