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Should You Drink Bone Broth?

Medically reviewed by 
Should You Drink Bone Broth?

Once a staple in kitchens across various cultures, bone broth has regained the spotlight as the latest “health food” trend for its health-promoting benefits backed by science. Wellness enthusiasts recommend drinking a warm cup of bone broth every day to nourish the joints, enhance the appearance of the skin, and promote gut health. 

However, claims regarding weight loss and anti-aging effects linked to bone broth are anecdotal and need further validation. The article aims to explore the nutritional value and the scientific evidence supporting the consumption of bone broth to empower readers to make an informed decision to incorporate bone broth into their daily lifestyle.


What is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is prepared by simmering chopped bones (typically from beef, chicken, or fish) with their marrow exposed (1) and covered in water containing a small amount of vinegar for an extended period. Chopped vegetables like carrots, potatoes, greens, and onions with herbs and spices are added to yield additional nutritional value. The prolonged simmering process helps extract collagen, minerals, and other proteins from the bones and connective tissue. The bones and vegetables are then strained off.

The primary difference between bone broth and stock is the ingredients and preparation time. Bone broth is extremely time-intensive and simmered for over 6 hours (often cooking times longer than 24 hours) to allow maximum extraction of minerals and collagen. The primary ingredient in bone broth is bones. 

Regular stock includes an array of ingredients, including bones, aromatics (such as onions, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves, etc.), and seasoning. Unlike bone broth, regular stock is simmered only for 2-3 hours to extract a rich flavor profile from the ingredients with less focus on the nutritional content. 

Nutritional Profile of Bone Broth

Bone broth boasts a rich nutritional profile and includes key nutrients that contribute to health-promoting properties. Prolonged cook times greater than 8 hours at an acidic pH were associated with significantly greater calcium and magnesium extraction (4). Some essential nutrients found in bone broth are as follows:

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body and a major structural component in skin, muscles, bones, and other connective tissue. Collagen provides strength, elasticity, and structural integrity to various tissues and organs.

Gelatin is a protein made up of collagen. Gelatin is primarily made up of amino acids glycine, proline, and hydroxyproline (6). When preparing bone broth, collagen from the animal bones breaks down and releases gelatin into the broth.

Amino Acids serve as the building blocks for protein synthesis. The human body needs 20 different amino acids to perform various physiological functions. Some notable amino acids found in bone broth are:

  • Glycine is one of the most important non-essential amino acids in the human body. The extracellular structural proteins, such as elastin and collagen, are made up of glycine (9). Notably, glycine plays a vital role in the immune response and is known to have cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Proline is an important substrate for synthesizing collagen and therefore plays an important role in wound healing and maintaining healthy skin and joints.
  • Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in blood, and skeletal tissues and a key nutrient for the intestines. In the gut, glutamine maintains the integrity of the gut lining and has anti-inflammatory properties supporting gut barrier function.

The key electrolytes in bone broth include:

  • Calcium plays a vital role in bone health, nerve conduction, and muscle contraction.
  • Phosphorus, together with calcium, maintains bone health and plays key roles in the regulation of gene transcription, activation of enzymes, and maintenance of normal pH.
  • Sodium is essential for maintaining fluid balance.
  • Potassium, together with sodium, is essential to regulate fluid balance, plays an important role in muscle contraction, and is critical to heart function.
  • Magnesium is essential for various bodily functions, including energy production, muscle function, and bone health.

Health Benefits of Drinking Bone Broth

Here are some of the top benefits of drinking bone broth:

Joint Health

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common joint disease, and is characterized by inflammation and the progressive destruction of articular cartilage resulting in chronic pain, limited joint mobility, and decreased quality of life. Currently, there are no approved disease-modifying drugs to treat OA, and long-term use of NSAIDs for symptomatic relief is associated with adverse effects. 

Studies show that alternative therapies with Symptomatic Slow Action Drugs for OA (SYSADOAs), such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, reduce inflammation and improve OA symptoms (19).

Bone broth is rich in collagen, glycosaminoglycans, such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, gelatin, and nutrients like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and anti-inflammatory amino acids, glycine and proline. Over time, consuming nutrient-dense bone broth can provide the essential nutrients needed to support the overall integrity of our joints and reduce the clinical symptoms of OA.

Gut Health and Digestion

Glutamine found abundantly in bone broth plays a vital role in the overall health of our digestive system. The intestine utilizes about 30% of total body glutamine and promotes intestinal cell proliferation. 

Research suggests that oral glutamine supplementation affects the gut in three significant ways: 

  1. It has a positive impact on sustaining the balance of the microbiome
  2. It increases the expression of tight junction proteins and the integrity of the intestinal lining
  3. It helps to minimize the inflammatory response in situations of gut mucosal irritation (21). Drinking a cup of warm bone broth rich in glutamine can promote gut healing in gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and leaky gut syndrome.

Skin Health

Collagen is an essential structural component in the extracellular matrix of skin. Three months of oral collagen supplementation has demonstrated increased skin hydration, elasticity, firmness, and visibly improved appearance of skin (23). 

Over time, due to unhealthy dietary patterns and environmental factors (including sunlight, smoking, pollution, etc.), an age-dependent decline in collage synthesis and loss of skin elasticity has been observed. This leads to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Consuming collagen-rich bone broth can promote the production of collagen and rejuvenate the health of the skin. 

Immune System Support

The anti-inflammatory effect of bone broth is attributed to the presence of essential amino acids (25). It was found that 100 mL of bone broth contained approx. 233 mg of amino acids (8), of which more than half were essential amino acids. 

Glutamic Acid (Glu) and Histidine (His) in bone broth exert a therapeutic effect by regulating our body’s immune response and reducing inflammation in the colonic mucosa. Additionally, bone broth was shown to increase microbicidal activity. 


Glycine, an amino acid abundant in bone broth, is a precursor to glutathione – a potent antioxidant essential for protecting the body from oxidative stress and promoting longevity. 

Glutathione plays a central role in neutralizing and eliminating toxins and heavy metals. Glycine supplementation stimulates the synthesis of glutathione and supports the body’s ability to detoxify from oxidative stress, mitochondrial impairment, chronic degenerative diseases (26), and aging (27).

Bone Broth in Various Diets and Lifestyles

A paleo diet is an approach to consuming whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, grass-fed meats, wild-caught fish, pasture-raised poultry, nuts, and seeds, that were available to the early humans in the Paleolithic era and to avoid processed foods including dairy and grains. Bone broth is frequently used in a paleo diet due to its whole, nutrient-dense nature.

A ketogenic diet or keto diet is a high-fat, low-carbohydrate dietary protocol that stimulates ketosis in our body where our metabolism shifts from using glucose as a primary source of fuel to using ketones, a byproduct of fat breakdown. Due to its low-carbohydrate nature, bone broth can easily be incorporated into a ketogenic diet, especially to replenish electrolytes.

Whole30 is an elimination diet that emphasizes consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods and avoiding processed foods for 30 days, designed to identify food groups that may be negatively impacting one’s health. At the end of the 30 days, you reintroduce foods one at a time and observe for potential symptoms of food intolerances. Bone broth may be incorporated as part of the Whole30 dietary regimen if the broth is homemade and not store-bought including artificial additives. 

How to Incorporate Bone Broth into Your Diet

There are a few different ways to incorporate bone broth into your diet. Here are the easiest ways:

Homemade Bone Broth

Making a flavorful, nutritious bone broth at home allows you to customize flavors to your liking. The key is to use quality ingredients, including animal bones from organic grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, or pasture-raised poultry, vegetables, and aromatics, and add to a large pot or slow cooker, covered with water with a small amount of vinegar and simmer for up to 24 hours. The broth is finally strained to be enjoyed as needed.

Purchasing Bone Broth at the Store

When opting for store-bought bone broth, it is essential to scan the nutrition label for high-quality ingredients and low sodium content and to ensure there are no additives or artificial flavors.

Daily Consumption

Bone broth can be a versatile ingredient in your kitchen. It can add a depth of flavor to soups, stews, and smoothies and as a base for any other recipe to infuse with flavor, as well as to take advantage of the nutritional benefits. Bone broth can also be sipped plain as a daily beverage. 

Potential Considerations and Downsides

While we love to look at all the benefits, it’s also important to consider the following:

Lead Contamination

Recently, the potential contamination of bone broth with lead and/or cadmium has attracted attention, especially in animals raised in environments with high levels of environmental pollutants. 

However, a 2017 study found that the risks associated with the ingestion of heavy metals like lead and cadmium in broth are minimal and within the range of a few micrograms per serving. To minimize the risk of lead contamination, sourcing high-quality bones from organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised animals is critical.

Histamine Intolerance

Histidine (His) is a precursor to histamine and is a major amino acid found in bone broth. Approximately 1% of the population has a histamine intolerance exacerbated by an increase in endogenous histamine availability or impaired histamine degradation. 

The extended cooking time in bone broth increases histamine production in the gut and can trigger allergy symptoms. Establishing an elimination diet by moderating bone broth consumption can lead to a complete remission of symptoms.


Key Takeaways

  • Bone broth is flavorful and nutrient-dense, prepared by simmering organic animal bone, preferably sourced from grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, or pasture-raised poultry, with vegetables, herbs, and spices for an extended cooking time to extract essential nutrients.
  • Bone broth is gaining popularity as a “health food” due to its health benefits including improved joint, skin, and gut health and due to its ability to modulate the immune system.
  • Bone broth can easily be incorporated into a variety of dietary protocols, including paleo, ketogenic, and Whole30 diets.
  • A warm cup of homemade bone broth (as opposed to store-bought options), including high-quality ingredients, and without food additives and artificial flavoring can be consumed daily and can be a delightful addition to various recipes.
  • Moderating the consumption of bone broth can mitigate any risk associated with potential lead contamination or histamine intolerances.
  • Scientific evidence does not support the consumption of bone broth to facilitate weight loss or have anti-aging properties.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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