Health Benefits of Bone Marrow
There are surprising bone marrow benefits that no one talks about. But it's kinda weird and off putting if you do not know how to prepare it the right way.
Learn how to use it to heal your joints, improve skin, brain function, build stem cells, control blood sugar and more.
Before we get started, let me mention what you care about: the easiest way to get it.
The best and most widely available source of bone marrow is bone broth. But you can't just buy one from a store or online.
It must be concentrated to the tune of 12 g protein per serving. Or else you are not getting any of the benefits.
The single best bone broth for marrow is made by Bluebird Provisions. You can find them online or on Amazon Prime.
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What is bone marrow?
Bone marrow is a fatty tissue found in the center of animal bones. It is mostly found in hip, femur, thigh and spine bones.
Eating it is a delicious way to support your body's overall health. And it is easier to palate for most people than other organ meats such as heart, brain, kidney and liver. While you don't get all of the benefits of other organs, you get some.
Marrow offers health benefits for your body because it's rich with nutrients and stem cells that help reduce blood clotting risk factors like high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure.
Nowadays, it is known for its regenerative capabilities and also used as a fancy dish in some restaurants.
The History of Bone Marrow
Bone marrow was one of the first foods enjoyed by humans before recorded time. It is considered a staple food in traditional cultures like Europe and Southeast Asia.
There is evidence for all traditional cultures eating the organs of animals including marrow because... they could not afford to waste any of the animal. They ate everything from nose to tail.
But how did these cultures get it? Most were able to obtain a lot of marrow from large game animals by cracking them. Some cultures ate it raw while others used it as a garnish on more intricate dishes.
Bone Marrow Nutrition Facts: Vitamins and Minerals
Bone marrow contains 97% fat, 3% protein and no carbohydrates. It provides some vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B12, Vitamin E, iron, calcium and Vitamin A.
Here is the nutrition stats for what you can expect from one serving.
- Calories: 110
- Fat: 12 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Carbs: 0 grams
- Riboflavin: 6% of RDI
- Iron: 4% of RDI
- Vitamin E: 2% of RDI
- Phosphorus: 1% of RDI
- Thiamine: 1% of RDI
- Vitamin B12: 7%
- Vitamin A 1% of RDI
It's also rich in nutrients and hormones that we lack in our Western Diet. These crucial nutrients help us maintain health by building red and white blood cells which reduce the risk of diseases.
It also has collagen, glucosamine and CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) which are linked to various health benefits. CLA is used in popular weight loss supplements. More on that later.
What does bone marrow taste like?
Bone marrow tastes rich, sweet and buttery. Some people find it a bit nutty. It is delicious when it is spread on toast or incorporated into various dishes that need fat content sources to balance them out.
It is surprisingly easy to make at home, as long as you can find the right bones to make it. Read below for how to make it.
8 Health Benefits of Bone Marrow
The health benefits of bone marrow include digestion, brain function, cell repair, immunity and stem cell formation, joint function, skin health and blood sugar control for diabetics.
Let's discuss each of these in detail below.
1. Builds Stem Cells and Repairs Damages Ones
Eating animal bone marrow can help repair body cells and growth factors. Why? It has stem cells that form platelets, white and red blood cells.
Some people get incredible improvements in their white blood cell count, energy and more after bone marrow transplants. But that is beyond the scope of this article.
2. Improves Brain Health
Bone marrow is good for brain health because it contains high levels of the fat soluble vitamins A and K2.
These components help to protect our brain cells from being damaged by toxins and free radicals that cause degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
3. Helps Your Gut Health and Digestion
Bone marrow is a decent source of glycine, which helps repair tissues in the intestines. Learn more about the fascinating health benefits of glycine.
4. Boosts Immune Function
Animal bone marrow is full of stem cells, which have similar properties to human stem cells. These stem cells that are used to create white blood cells and red blood cells, which increase immune function and antioxidant activity.
It is also is a power house of energy boosting B vitamins like B 12. If you're going keto, these vitamins can help improve lethargy or 'keto flu' symptoms.
Lastly, it is a rare source of AKGs (alkylglycerols), which are also found in breast milk. AKGs are important for adipose tissue development which helps your immune system fight diseases.
5. Supports Joint Pain and Function
The compounds in bone marrow are thought to improve joint health. These include calcium, collagen content and gelatin. Calcium can help prevent problems like arthritis and bone mineral density issues.
Also, collagen and gelatin are among the best available supplements for a boost in joint function and pain relief. They help boost collagen synthesis in your tendons, joints cartilage and ligaments. This can help improve symptoms of joint related conditions like arthritis and osteoarthritis.
6. Decreases Inflammation
Bone marrow has shown powerful anti-inflammatory properties because of the unique amino acids and compounds like CLA. CLA is a potent anti inflammatory with potential health benefits for heart disease and diabetes.
The unique amino acids I mentioned above are proline, glycine and arginine. These are technically non-essential amino acids -- meaning you cannot survive on them alone as your protein sources.
However, they do so much more in the body for inflammation. Proline and glycine literally help heal wounds and tiny holes in your gut from eating bad food or having allergies. Bone broth is the best source of all of these.
7. Promotes Skin Health
Bone marrow has collagen, which releases antioxidants inside the body, helping boost skin health and preventing early aging of skin.
Collagen is a structural protein that keeps skin and our connective tissue supple and hydrated. Collagen is notoriously difficult to get from food sources. Unless you drink bone broth, you are not getting enough to help you skin.
8. Great For Diabetes
It is a rare source of the protein hormone: adiponectin, which lowers risk of insulin and diabetes. Adiponectin is important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.
The discovery of adiponectin dates back to 1998, when Japanese researchers identified a protein in fat tissue that appeared to be released into the bloodstream as a way to regulate glucose levels.
The study researchers named the protein adiponectin, from "adipose" (fat) and "nectin" (binding), because it binds to fat.
Food Sources of Bone Marrow For Eating
Bone marrow can be easily added to your diet with these few simple ideas:
Beef Shank Bones: The most accessible and inexpensive source of bone marrow is beef shank bones. Get some from your local butcher and follow a simple braising recipe in the oven.
Animal Bone Broth:
Get a mix of beef knuckle and marrow bones from your local butcher or farmers market, toss them into a pot with water and cook on a high, rolling simmer for 12-16 hours.
Roast it: Simply take your 2-3 inch marrow bones and roast them on a baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes. Get the full recipe below.
Soups and Stews: It can be cooked in broth, stew or roasted in the oven at a high temperature to cook it through. Simply add any bones to your stew and remove them before serving. You can usually scoop out the marrow once it gets cooked and soft enough.
Steaming it: Steam it in a pot with water. Then you can scoop it out and add it to salads, bowls or pasta dishes. It is a great side dish, especially when served with roasted vegetables or red wine.
Supplements / Pills: There are some brands marketing and selling bone marrow supplements. These are good alternatives if you cannot find the real thing. Just make sure you do your research and find a reputable brand.
The only brand I will recommend for this is the grass fed bone marrow from Ancestral Supplements.
Is eating bone marrow raw good for you?
Eating raw bone marrow is good for you because of the healthy fats, vitamins and minerals. It's popular among paleo, carnivore diet and ancestral health proponents. You can easily eat it with a sprinkle of salt.
Pro tip: Ask your butcher to split the bones for you so that you can harvest marrow from them yourself. They don't always do it because it is a pain, but if you have a good relationship with them, they may do so.
Dangers of Eating Bone Marrow
The dangers of eating bone marrow are minimal, and the benefits are many. Bone marrow is an integral part of our body's circulatory system. It is a soft, fatty tissue found in bones that produces blood cells (red and white blood cells).
It is a rich source of many nutrients including protein, vitamin A, B vitamins (B12 and folic acid), minerals such as phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.
Easy Bone Marrow Recipe
This bone marrow recipe is easy to make and doesn't require any special equipment or ingredients. It is easy to make and takes 10 minutes to prep, 20 minutes to cook. It uses a baking sheet and foil as the roasting tray, which helps keep the marrow from sticking.
The dish can be made with or without meat, depending on taste preference.
- 2 pounds of marrow bones cut to 2" thick.
- 1 tsp of high-quality salt
- 1 garlic clove
- Your favorite sliced bread (optional)
- lemon zest (optional)
- Chopped parsley (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425° F.
- Take a baking sheet and line it with foil.
- Place marrow bones on top of foil, marrow side up.
- Sprinkle with salt and roast for 20 minutes.
- Toast bread lightly in oven or in toaster.
- Rub raw garlic on one side of bread to infuse it. It should act as its own grater.
- Roast bread in the oven for the last 2 minutes.
- When marrow is finished, transfer to a plate and sprinkle with parsley and lemon zest.
- Scoop marrow out of bones with a bread knife or spoon.
- Spread onto garlic bread and enjoy the amazing rich taste.
Bone marrow is an ancient superfood turned delicacy. It has amazing health benefits including blood sugar control, stem cell formation, skin health, joint health and immunity.
The easiest source of marrow is a high quality bone broth. Bluebird Provisions makes an instant bone broth powder that tastes delicious and packs 12 g of protein and 10 g of collagen per serving. Try some today and see what others rave about.
How often should I eat bone marrow?
You should eat bone marrow twice per week for best results. It has important nutrients that we lack in our Western Diet that are beneficial for skin health, brain health, blood sugar, immunity ands stem cell formation.
What kind of fat is in bone marrow?
Since bone marrow is a solid substance, the primary fat types are stearic and oleic acids. These two fats are shown to have benefits for the health of your mitochondria. Mitochondria are the powerhouse of your cells and are needed to ensure they stay healthy.
Is the fat in bone marrow good for you?
The fat is bone marrow is incredibly good for you. It boosts your mitochondria health, is great for skin and stem cell formation. Eating it may help you lose fat because of adiponectin and CLA. CLA is commonly used in fat loss supplements.
Is bone marrow fat or protein?
Bone marrow contains 97% fat and about 3% protein. Bone marrow is high in saturated fats, but has been found to have a higher level of polyunsaturated fats that help break down fat.
Bone marrow is mostly fat and high in CLA, which could have a positive impact on bone health.
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I am now 85 and in fairly good shape.. I don’t know if eating marrow as a child because of being very thin. Back then in 30’s marrow was very popular.. I found it delicious. My mother would place it on rye with salt and pepper. It was very popular then.. I think I will start eating it again slowly. I am really excited to taste haven’t since maybe 12 😋😋😋
Since I can not find a decent and reliable butcher near me; I slow cook chicken bones, turkey bones, beef bones, lamb bones from pasture raised animals for our dogs. Slow cook for at leastv72 hours. The bones still look like bones but, are soft and tender. You can mash them like you could making mashed potatoes. It’s a treat a couple times a week. The bone broth (with safe veggies) is put into ice cube trays then frozened. Then I can include this nutrition to their food when I do not have slow cooked bones with their homemade cooked dog food. I will never feed them conventional processed dog food since I pick-up a load truck load of “Blue” dog food (processed) in IN back in 2016. The stench around the plant was nauseousiating!
It is really hard to find in store. I would check butcher shops, farmer’s markets (ask the farmer for it) and online.
Hope this helps.
Loved it as a kid, but I have never seen it for sale anywhere and wouldn’t know where or how to buy it? Any advice?
People seem concerned about cholesterol but cholesterol levels are not important, heart health is apparently impacted by inflammation and you point out that marrow can help reduce inflammation.
Great info and reassuring to start eating marrow
Hi, this is a touchy subject and one that I am not qualified to comment on regarding saturated fats an cholesterol :(
Thank you for the amazing wealth of information.
Thanks for these info. Now, i can eat this thing inside bone marrow before i am afraid to eat them thinking its bad for me.
I wonder if the high content of saturated fats fits well with raised cholesterol levels?
Some of the best information I’ve read on the subject.
Thank you for the valuable information. I love bone broth it makes me feel so good!
Awesome information.. 👍 Great read.
Thanks for reading Mark!
Great read!! Thanks for sharing such a great blog.