Health Benefits of Bone Marrow

Humans have been enjoying delicious and nutritious animal bone marrow for centuries. It has a sweet, rich taste and a hearty texture, and is used mostly to flavor broths and soups. Recently, it has become a main course item at gourmet restaurants around the world.

A spongy tissue found in the center of bones, the marrow is mostly concentrated in the spine, hip, and thigh bones. Its stem cells produce red and white blood cells. These cells move oxygen throughout the bloodstream, assisting with tasks like blood clotting.

Health Benefits

As bone marrow has gained popularity in top kitchens around the world, scientists and doctors have begun to take a closer look at the following health benefits it presents:

Lower Risk of Weight-related Diseases

One study showed that the fat tissue in bone marrow contains a hormone called adiponectin. This hormone helps break down fats. It can maintain insulin sensitivity, and it has been linked to lower risk of diabetes, cardiovascular (heart) disease, and other obesity-associated cancers

High levels of adiponectin are directly linked to a decreased risk of getting diabetes and other cardiovascular diseases. The study found that people who were overweight tended to have lower levels of adiponectin, but levels of the hormone rose as they shed pounds.

Maintains Skin, Bone, and Joint Health

Bone marrow is full of collagen, which improves the health and strength of bones and skin. 

It is also rich in glucosamine, a compound that helps against osteoarthritis, relieves joint pain, and reduces inflammation in the joints.

Reduces Risk of Inflammation-related Diseases

Glycine and conjugated linoleic acid are both abundant in bone marrow, and they’ve been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation is linked to serious diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, and Alzheimer’s.

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Nutrition

Bone marrow contains high levels of fat and calories, but it also has nutrients like vitamin B12.

Bone marrow also contains significant portions of your reference daily intake (RDI) of the following nutrients and minerals:

Nutrients per Serving

Fourteen grams of reindeer bone marrow contains:

Portion Sizes

Although bone marrow is an excellent source of different vitamins and minerals, it’s also high in fat. If you’re going to add bone marrow to your diet, make sure to do so in moderation to avoid weight gain.

How to Prepare Bone Marrow

There are dozens of ways to add bone marrow to your diet. Make sure you’re sourcing it from a quality butcher. You want clean bones that are pale pink in color and come from animals that lived organically and range-free. 

While you can get bone marrow from almost any animal, beef marrow is the most popular. Tell your butcher you’re looking to cook with bone marrow and he or she should have some good recommendations. Otherwise, you can ask them for shank bones, neck bones, knucklebones, or oxtail. 

Broths and Soups

The traditional way to use bone marrow is in a broth or soup. How thick or rich you want your liquid to be will dictate how much marrow you put in. To extract bone marrow, simmer the bones for 36 to 48 hours.

Sauté 

You can use bone marrow like you would work with any other type of oil. Heat it up on a frying pan and let it melt. Dig the marrow out of the bone with a spoon and put it on a hot skillet with some olive oil or canola oil.

Sauce

A great way to use bone marrow is in a sauce, especially for meat dishes. Extract the marrow as you would for a broth and add it into your sauce.

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Spread

Bone marrow can be enjoyed just like butter — spread some on a cracker or a piece of toast.

You can also buy bone marrow that has already been removed from the bone. Liquid, powder, and capsule (pill) products make it easy to add bone marrow into your cuisine.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 02, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Arthritis Research & Therapy: “Is there any evidence for the use of glucosamine in the management of human osteoarthritis?”

Cell Metabolism: “Bone Marrow Adipose Tissue Is an Endocrine Organ that Contributes to Increased Circulating Adiponectin during Caloric Restriction.”

GreatBritishChefs.com: “How to cook bone marrow.” 

Harvard Health Publishing: “Foods that fight inflammation.”

International Journal of Circumpolar Health: “Level of selected nutrients in meat, liver, tallow and bone marrow from semi-domesticated reindeer.”

Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology: “Collagen: A review on its sources and potential cosmetic applications.”

The Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association: “Anti-inflammatory effects of conjugated linoleic acid on young athletic males.”

National Institute of Health, Medline Plus: “Bone Marrow Diseases.”

Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Multifarious Beneficial Effect of Nonessential Amino Acid, Glycine: A Review.”

Restaurant Hospitality: “Chefs make the most of versatile bone marrow.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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