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Bone marrow

Nutrition, health benefits, and food sources

Bone marrow is a nutritious food with many health benefits. Learn about its benefits and how to incorporate it to your diet.

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Bone marrow: Nutrition, health benefits, and sources
Last updated on April 7, 2024, and last reviewed by an expert on February 7, 2024.

Bone marrow is a type of spongy tissue in the center of bones. The bone marrow of animals like cows, lambs, and moose may provide benefits, such as decreasing Fighting inflammation and supporting joint health has always been essential.

Bone marrow: Nutrition, health benefits, and sources

Bone marrow, a nourishing ingredient savored across the globe for millennia, is now a sought-after choice in fine dining spots and hip cafes. It’s catching the attention of health enthusiasts too, thanks to its impressive nutritional benefits.

This article explores the nutritional value and advantages of bone marrow and provides tips on incorporating it into your diet.

In this article

What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow is the soft, spongy tissue found inside bones, particularly abundant in the spine, hips, and thighs.

It plays a crucial role in our health by producing stem cells that transform into red and white blood cells and platelets, essential for carrying oxygen, fighting infections, and healing wounds.

Bone marrow from animals such as cows, lambs, caribou, and moose is widely enjoyed in various cuisines for its rich, mildly sweet taste and creamy texture. It’s commonly enjoyed on toast, in soups, or as a savory spread for vegetables and meats.

Summary: Bone marrow is spongy tissue within bones. It’s eaten for its delightful taste and used in soups, spreads, and as a topping on various dishes.

Bone marrow nutrition profile

Bone marrow is calorie-dense and rich in fats, offering modest amounts of proteins and essential nutrients like vitamin B12.

A tablespoon (14 grams) of raw caribou bone marrow, for instance, provides:

Additionally, bone marrow is a source of B vitamins such as pantothenic acid, thiamine, and biotin, which support vital functions like energy production. It’s also a rich source of collagen, promoting skin health and possibly easing joint discomfort.

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Notably, bone marrow from cows, goats, sheep, and moose is packed with conjugated linoleic acid, which may help reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.

While further studies are needed, bone marrow is believed to offer other beneficial compounds, including glycine, glucosamine, and chondroitin.

Summary: Bone marrow is nutrient-rich, offering calories, fats, protein, vitamin B12, collagen, and conjugated linoleic acid, among other benefits.

Health benefits of bone marrow

While direct research on the consumption of bone marrow is scarce, there’s a wealth of evidence supporting the health benefits of its key components such as collagen, glycine, glucosamine, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Enhancing joint health

Bone marrow is rich in substances believed to improve joint health.

Glucosamine, a natural component of cartilage, has been shown to alleviate osteoarthritis symptoms by reducing inflammation and joint pain. Collagen also plays a vital role in producing cartilage, which is essential for maintaining healthy joints.

A study involving 147 athletes found that taking 10 grams of collagen daily for six months significantly reduced joint pain related to physical activity.

Reducing inflammation

While some inflammation is necessary for healing, ongoing inflammation can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

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Glycine, found in bone marrow, has been demonstrated to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in studies, suggesting it might help lower inflammation levels in the body. Conjugated linoleic acid, another component of bone marrow, has also been shown to diminish inflammation markers in the bloodstream.

Research including a two-week study on 23 men revealed that consuming 5.6 grams of conjugated linoleic acid daily significantly reduced inflammation markers, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and C-reactive protein.

Bone marrow contains adiponectin as well, a hormone that is critical in controlling inflammation and immune responses.

Boosting skin health

Collagen, crucial for skin integrity, is abundantly found in bone marrow. It has been linked to improvements in skin elasticity and hydration.

An 8-week study on 69 women showed that collagen supplementation of 2.5–5 grams daily enhanced skin moisture and elasticity. Furthermore, collagen treatments in mice over 8 weeks resulted in increased collagen levels and antioxidant activities in the skin, offering potential protection against skin damage and aging.

The need for more research

It’s important to note that the referenced studies focus on supplements with high concentrations of specific compounds present in bone marrow rather than on the consumption of bone marrow itself. Further investigations are necessary to confirm if eating bone marrow directly offers the same health advantages.

Summary: Although direct evidence is lacking, components of bone marrow might help improve joint health, reduce inflammation, and support skin health, indicating potential benefits from its consumption.

Food sources and how to incorporate it to your diet

Bone marrow is accessible from places like farmers markets, butcher shops, and health food stores.

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For those new to bone marrow, beef bones are an excellent starting point because of their large size and easy availability.

Key sources of bone marrow include:

When making bone broth or soups, you can cook the entire bone, which simplifies the process by eliminating the need to extract the marrow first.

Butchers can also cut the bones for you, making it easier to roast and consume the marrow directly.

To cook bone marrow, simply roast marrow bones at 450℉ (232℃) for around 15 minutes. After roasting, the marrow can be easily scooped out and enjoyed.

Commonly paired with toast and marmalade, bone marrow also enhances the flavor of meats, bread, roasted vegetables, and more.

For those interested in the benefits of bone marrow but looking for a more convenient option, bone broth supplements are available in various forms like liquid, powder, and capsules, found both in stores and online.

Summary: Bone marrow, a nutritious and versatile ingredient, is easily found and prepared in numerous ways, offering a convenient option for those looking to incorporate its benefits into their diet.

Summary

Bone marrow is packed with beneficial components such as collagen, conjugated linoleic acid, glycine, and glucosamine.

Though direct studies on bone marrow’s health effects are scarce, these components are known to reduce inflammation, enhance skin health, and support joint health.

Bone marrow is not only nutritious but also delicious and can be easily included in various dishes, making it a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

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