Natural Healing

Easy bone broth: the science behind its ingredients

By Sari Huhtala

One of the easiest ways to boost essential minerals like calcium and magnesium in your body, along with collagen, is through bone broth. Although making your own bone broth may sound time consuming, it requires so little effort you’ll wonder why you haven’t made it sooner.

Bone broth is super good, superfood, especially as a warming drink during the winter months. Plus, it makes an amazing soup base, turning an ordinary veggie soup into extraordinary medicine.

For years I have been making beef bone broth, as well as chicken bone broth made with chicken feet, which are rich in collagen, in the easiest way possible. Source bones from local farms rather than grocery store factory-farmed beef and chicken.

To make a broth, I fill a 12-cup crock pot with spring water, then I add about six beef bones, or six large chicken feet, two to three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, and about two teaspoons of Himalayan salt or a quality sea salt. I turn it on high until it begins to boil, then set to simmer on low for about 12 hours.

The amount of calcium and magnesium that is extracted from the bones while simmering is increased “significantly” when cooking time is more than eight hours, according to a 2017 study in the journal Food and Nutrition Research.

The concentration of minerals in the broth is also affected by the pH level. The research shows you will get 10 to 20 times more calcium and magnesium from the bones if acid, like apple cider vinegar, is added to the cooking water. In their studies, researchers added one tablespoon of vinegar in a litre of bone broth water, prior to cooking. All minerals increased when acid was added.

A 2011 article in Clinical Cases of Bone Mineral Metabolism revealed that prolonged boiling of bones, such as a 24-hour or more period, may produce a bone broth that has a high level of vitamin D, which is found in the fatty bone marrow. The prolonged cooking draws more fats out of the bone marrow. Overdosing on this type of bone broth over a prolonged period of time can cause vitamin D toxicity, researchers say.

The article points to a clinical case where a 29-year-old man presented with symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, despite no additional supplementation or excess dietary intake. During questioning, he revealed he was drinking one to two litres of bone broth a day, at least three days a week for six months prior to falling ill, and the bone broth was made by “prolonged boiling of long beef bones.”

Increasingly, bone broth is being prescribed as part of a healthy diet for gut and psychology syndrome patients – individuals with autism, ADHD, depression or schizophrenia.

However, a small, controlled study that tested lead concentration in chicken bone broth compared to the tap water that the broth was made with found an increase in lead in the finished chicken bone broth.

Where you source your beef, chicken or pork bones for your broth makes a difference. Heavy metal contaminated feed is one reason lead may be present in bones, as well as contaminated agriculture areas. For example, a 2021 review in the Poultry Science journal found that in California, a child consuming one egg could exceed the recommended lead limits for children.

Regardless, bone broth is still an amazing superfood.

Here’s what Nonie De Long, licensed orthomolecular health practitioner and holistic nutritionist, says about bone broth in her https://www.aliveandfit.ca/surprising-superfoods/ article:

“Bone broth frees the minerals and collagen from bones to render them in a very easily digested form. With other nutrients, if you are deficient, you can simply supplement with them. But with minerals it’s tricky because minerals come from rocks and bones, which are notably hard to chew on, digest, and absorb. Supplement formulations of minerals are composed of rock minerals (inorganic) wrapped in a protein to try to ‘trick’ the body into absorbing them. This is called a chelate. There’s good question about whether this works exactly as organic.

You might think broth is just a liquid, but in a cool state you can see it is very dense and gelatinous, rather like Jello. This gelatin is formed when the collagen from the cartilage and skin breakdown, which is why you want knuckle, foot, wing, neck, or tail bones. More cartilage, more better. Collagen is great for repairing cartilage in the body and can help with joint pain, skin elasticity, digestive inflammation, sleep issues, bone density issues, and nervous system and brain health.”

The finished broth contains a number of amino acids (building blocks of proteins), some of which are lacking in modern diets: most notably glycine, proline, and valine. It contains about 2g of protein per half cup.”

Sari Huhtala is the creator, publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine, which was birthed in 2007.  She has over 25 years of experience in journalism and over 15 years of experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor, and is a holistic chef, offering holistic cooking and edible wilds workshops. She is an organic farmer, wild-crafter and grandmother, who has spent over 20 years navigating a holistic, healthy path for her family. Reach her at friends@thelaughingforest.ca 

Photo credit: © Madeleine Steinbach via Canva.com

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