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Can Too Much Bone Broth Harm You?

Bone Broth BlogExperts say the increase in the consumption of bone broth over the past few decades is because of the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet) and the Paleo diet.

The use of bone broth or stock was created by our ancestors in order to make sure they used every part of the animal. Bones, marrow, skin, feet, tendons and ligaments were boiled then simmered over a period of days. This process of simmering causes the bones and ligaments to release proteins like collagen, glycine, and glutamine. Other nutrients in bone broth are fats and an abundant amount of minerals.

These broths are intended to transform your health by improving digestion, promoting joint health and strengthening the bones. Bone broth is promoted as a way to decrease inflammation. However, there is no scientific evidence to support or refute any of these claims because bone broth is a relatively new addition to the field of complementary and alternative medicine. Fortunately, there are many proven alternatives to bone broth that will accomplish the desired results for joint symptoms, bone strengthening and digestive health. Many of these older, herbal and nutritional remedies have stood the test of time and do not have the potential adverse effects of bone broth.

Bone broth is made by adding a mild acid – vinegar – to the cooking water because acid dissolves the calcium and other minerals from the bone and allows it to enter the broth. Living bones are nature’s defense system against poisoning from lead, arsenic and other heavy metals. If these metals are in bone, they also dissolve into the water of the broth. One scientific study of chicken bone broth found “markedly high lead concentrations” in the broth can be found here.

Lead is also concentrated in bones of other animals unless great care is taken to avoid lead contamination. Lead is one reason why bone meal is rarely recommended as a source of calcium unless great caution is used in raising the animals that are the source of bone meal.

In addition to potentially toxic minerals, the calcium concentration of bone broth is variable. More than 2,000 mg of calcium each day increases the risk of bone fractures because the bones become brittle. There may also be increased risk of calcification of the arteries from large amounts of rapidly absorbed calcium. More reliable sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese that provide approximately 300 mg of calcium per serving. Most people in the USA consume approximately 600 mg of calcium in their food each day so it makes sense to supplement with 500 mg of calcium for the majority of Americans. Unfortunately, it is difficult to calculate the amount of calcium in bone broth, so the diet may be too rich or too poor in calcium depending on how the broth was made.

It is also important to question how much salt is used in preparing bone broth. Most bone broths use a large amount of salt in order to add flavor to the dish. Too much salt contributes to hypertension, and also takes calcium out of our bodies making the kidneys work extra hard to rid the body of the salt. Astronauts are placed on low salt diets to help prevent bone loss during space travel. Bone broths may do exactly the opposite and contribute to low bone density from too much salt.

Bone broths are often promoted for joint health. One website quoted a Harvard researcher who noted that, "daily dietary chicken collagen can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis." This occurred by a process known as ‘oral tolerisation’ in which the daily exposure to collagen suppresses the immune system that destroys the joint collagen. What this website and almost all other media sources fail to mention about bone broth is the type of chicken collagen that has a proven effect for rheumatoid arthritis has not been cooked or altered in the processing for oral intake. One example is UC-II collagen that is considerably different from the collagen in bone soup. UC-II has proven benefit for Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoarthritis which is why it is one of the ingredients of IBBH Joint Formula. In simpler terms, it claims that chicken bone broth is good for joint problems which are unproven and often misleading.

To avoid taking unknown risks with bone broth, it is probably best to wait for the fad to develop a little longer. There are currently too many risks with bone broth because not much research has been done about it. There are other well-known alternatives for natural relief of joint suffering and weak bones. We encourage you to explore the website of the Institute for Better Bone Health for more information and for safe, well-researched alternatives.

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