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What is the nutrient analysis of bone broth?

by (463)
Answered on August 30, 2015
Created February 06, 2012 at 5:45 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?

Fb513a8adeb24e5dfce54462a73b4b7f
0 · March 07, 2015 at 2:07 AM

     I keep hearing there isn't much calcium, or other mineral content when it comes down to it in bone broth...but I also hear bone is 50% mineral.   What happens if you keep cooking the bones for a longer period of time?  Does it eventually breakdown and at some point you could actually ingest it in it's entirety, and get way more nutritional value out of it?

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25 · August 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Nice to read about someone's own research, Pinwheel, can you inform us about your research ? I used to do broth with sheep bones in a pressurized way and eat the marrow but I feel like it may be applying too much heat to be able to break the bones to get the marrow for the marrow to remain healthy, there's not data on what else is in the broth other than gelatin and gelatin comes at a much cheaper and convenient price, and I can do raw organic egg yolks instead of marrow. What do you think ?

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41722 · August 07, 2014 at 8:53 PM

No, they took beef bones and garlic added the components together. It tells you nothing about what has been extracted during the cooking process.

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0 · August 07, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Balanced Bites Mineral-Rich Bone Broth (Beef and Garlic) has posted nutritional analysis on the nutritiondata sight http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/recipe/2422683...

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463 · May 06, 2012 at 5:09 AM

Thanks, Derek. It would indeed appear that bone broth has little to offer in terms of minerals and vitamins. However, I did expect that much, and primarily use other sources for those nutrients. What I am more interested in, and what nobody seems to have researched, is the levels of joint-relevant nutrients like hyaluronic acid, etc. Unfortunately, it also seems that there are not many labs that are even set up to conduct such an analysis.

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1646 · April 30, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Well, crud... I kept watching this thread.

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100 · April 30, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Tried and failed: http://paleohacks.com/questions/105993/do-you-want-to-finally-know-the-nutritional-properties-of-bone-broth

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2959 · April 30, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Would this work as a kickstarter project?

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1646 · April 22, 2012 at 2:40 AM

If we could get 100 paleo-hackers on board, that's only $6.50. It'd be $26 even for 25 buy-ins. I'd be willing to throw in at either of those price points... New question, perhaps?

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
463 · February 21, 2012 at 5:28 AM

Argh. So far the labs I've contacted do not test all of the substances I mentioned. I did find one that tests for protein, fat, cals, carbs, calcium, sodium, iron, and vit C--but this one costs a hefty $650 per item. I would assume that's beyond what we collectively have the desire to muster, although if I'm wrong let me know. I will continue looking.

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2959 · February 18, 2012 at 1:45 PM

I'm only interested in macros.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
463 · February 09, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Ah, yes, I did mean that. I mistyped, sorry.

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1026 · February 09, 2012 at 9:00 AM

I second Eugenia's requests.

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463 · February 07, 2012 at 3:48 PM

Does anyone have any other requests regarding nutrients they'd like to see numbers on?

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11687 · February 06, 2012 at 7:20 PM

I'd be interested in the potassium, PQQ and Q10 contents too (if any). If you could add these to your list, I'm willing to donate for lab results too.

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2433 · February 06, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Sweet, thanks Curt.

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
463 · February 06, 2012 at 6:44 PM

I just found a lab that does nutritional analysis for food products: http://www.brookerlaboratories.com/ It's not too expensive, but I'm going to contact them to see how thorough their analyses are and update everyone on what I find out.

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37207 · February 06, 2012 at 5:52 PM

sarah ann asked about this too: http://paleohacks.com/questions/3917/nutritional-analysis-of-beef-broth#axzz1lciQitzL but I think we're getting more connective tissue support from broth than mineral.

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1026 · February 06, 2012 at 5:49 PM

If a lab is willing to do this, I'm willing to donate.

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12 Answers

Fc0ee5e8add12027a99302b77fa3165c
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20 · May 05, 2012 at 9:55 PM

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

http://adc.bmj.com/content/9/52/251

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
463 · May 06, 2012 at 5:09 AM

Thanks, Derek. It would indeed appear that bone broth has little to offer in terms of minerals and vitamins. However, I did expect that much, and primarily use other sources for those nutrients. What I am more interested in, and what nobody seems to have researched, is the levels of joint-relevant nutrients like hyaluronic acid, etc. Unfortunately, it also seems that there are not many labs that are even set up to conduct such an analysis.

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10 · July 22, 2012 at 4:28 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!

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25 · August 11, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Nice to read about someone's own research, Pinwheel, can you inform us about your research ? I used to do broth with sheep bones in a pressurized way and eat the marrow but I feel like it may be applying too much heat to be able to break the bones to get the marrow for the marrow to remain healthy, there's not data on what else is in the broth other than gelatin and gelatin comes at a much cheaper and convenient price, and I can do raw organic egg yolks instead of marrow. What do you think ?

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4002 · February 18, 2012 at 4:31 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:

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10 · February 09, 2012 at 8:33 AM

I think you meant 90mg?

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

Febcfb45a6bec019a69101cfa8104d30
463 · February 09, 2012 at 3:07 PM

Ah, yes, I did mean that. I mistyped, sorry.

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0 · August 30, 2015 at 9:54 AM

Look up the nutritional info of great lake gelatins. It's similar to broth. I don't have enough reputation to post the link but their website has all the info including the amino acid profile.

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0 · August 26, 2015 at 8:18 PM

There are so many problems with those studies. First, the broth was cooked for way too short a time, second, the temperature was kept at a boil for the entire time. Making a rich bone broth takes days, and when I make a beef bone broth (knuckles, oxtail & femur slices) the bone literally crumbles apart after three days at a low simmer, adding extra water periodically. The final product is so thick and beefy, a few ounces is sufficient. The major benefits of properly prepared bone broths aren't just minerals, however. The collagen extracted is an incredibly healing food, and many grams are found in every serving. If one cooks the bones to the point of crumbling, an easy way to ensure you're getting the minerals is to consume the bone as well. Either puree it and add it into things like meatloaf and chili, or pop a chunk into your mouth and munch. The flavor and texture take a little getting used to, but it's not bad, just very rich. There are a few laboratories to which one can send a sample of any substance for a full nutrient profile analysis, but I'm not curious enough to shell out the money. I just know that every traditional diet has included bone broth and other organ meats to improve health, and anyone who drinks the stuff regularly can attest to its benefits.

Oh, and as it is a whole food, things like glucosamine and chondroitin are components of collagen, which is itself the major protein in the bone matrix, so listing them individually is a little redundant. Gelatin is just hydrolyzed collagen, so you make the one from the other by cooking it, so bone broths have a lot of their collagen converted to gelatin. I would assume that the lower the temp, the less is converted, but I'm not sure what conditions cause the denaturing. We absorb the whole food forms of virtually everything more readily than the supplement extract forms anyway, so just include the food!

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42 · January 02, 2015 at 3:22 PM

 Suzanne_7, you might want to read the response from the Weston A. Price Foundation:

"Clearly more studies are needed.   To date, we’ve found just one other research study that  has looked at lead contamination of broth.  The findings published in the journal Food Additives and Contamination revealed very little lead in a beef bone broth, more in a beef casserole that used red wine, but the highest level by far in baked potatoes with skins contaminated from the lead in the soil.   The researchers determined the predominant source of the metal in food was tap water.61

Several other studies have investigated the levels of lead found in the muscles and organs of conventionally raised chickens.   In each case, the lead appeared where it would be expected — i.e.  in the bones, with much less in the skin and cartilage.62,63

Will any good come out of the shoddy Medical Hypotheses broth/lead study?  Yes, if it prompts more tests and better studies.   As Dr.  Campbell-McBride puts it:   “Many other practitioners now will test their meat stock and bone broth and the whole issue will receive a lot of attention, which in time will give us the full picture.”64

To that end, we would like to announce the results of testing performed by The National Food Lab on bone broth from grass-fed beef and pastured chicken from California.65 These two broths were prepared in stainless steel soup pots by the Three Stone Hearth Co-op in Berkeley.  As tested on February 14, 2013 at a Minimum Detection Level of 10 parts per billion and again on March 1, 2013 with an MDL of 5 parts per billion,  the results were as follows:

  • Grassfed beef broth.   No lead detected
  • Pastured chicken broth:  No lead detected
  • Reverse osmosis water:  No lead detected

The Weston A. Price Foundation plans to do further testing of broth, and it encourages consumers to know their farmers and the living conditions under which poultry and animals are raised.

The takeaway?  Dr. Campbell-McBride sums it up nicely.    “As a whole, my position is unchanged:  meat stock and bone broth are healing foods and they need to be made from the best quality grass-fed ecologically clean animals. . .” 66 In other words, take care with the source of your broth."

 

http://www.westonaprice.org/blogs/kdaniel/bone-broth-and-lead-contamination-a-very-flawed-study-in-medical-hypotheses/

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0 · October 23, 2014 at 2:19 AM

Hi there.  I too am having difficulty researching that exact topic.  As an evidence-based Naturopath, I sent off a newsletter update giving my clients a broth recipe, and when I was asked what is in it that makes it so healing... and I realised I didn't have the answer!  Well, not researched to the level I would have liked anyway. 

Have you had much of a response as far as labs are concerned since you began this post 2 years ago?  I would be very interested to see what became of your query as I was having similar thoughts myself.  Perhaps even a good topic for a Masters in Research...

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25 · 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:

http://adc.bmj.com/content/9/52/251

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.

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0 · January 24, 2014 at 1:33 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.

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10 · August 28, 2013 at 8:25 PM

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

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23375414

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?

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0 · August 02, 2013 at 3:59 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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