A jar of bone broth with a red warning sign and the text "The Bone Broth Side Effects You Need to Know"

The Bone Broth Side Effects You Need To Know & How to Overcome Them

Everyone’s raving about it, this magical liquid called bone broth – and for good reason. But, is there a dark side with bone broth side effects that you need to be aware of?

Bone broth is becoming popular mostly for its anti-aging capabilities – giving us more youthful skin and hair (not for me being mostly bald… my scalp is smooth and wrinkle free though).

This is thanks to the gelatin contained within it that – when guzzled and broken down by the digestive system – contains all the ingredients to make collagen needed to keep us young and fresh.

However, there a some that may find they have adverse reactions to bone broth. So let’s dig into the bone broth side effects.

First, let’s look a what bone broth is…


  • What is Bone Broth: Made by simmering animal bones, marrow, and tissues, it’s rich in collagen, gelatin, amino acids, and minerals.
  • Health Benefits: Supports gut health, joint health, skin and hair vitality, and immune function. Provides easily absorbed protein.
  • Nutrients in Bone Broth: Includes collagen, gelatin, various amino acids (like glycine, proline, glutamine, arginine), essential minerals (calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sodium), glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, vitamins, and fatty acids.
  • Types of Bone Broth: Different types (chicken, beef, fish, pork, turkey, lamb, game animal, vegetable) offer unique benefits, from immune support to joint health and digestion aid.
  • Who Should Be Cautious: Those with histamine intolerance, prone to gout, or with kidney issues should be careful due to high histamine, purine content, and sodium levels.
  • Potential Side Effects: Digestive upset, high sodium content, lead contamination, and allergic reactions.
  • Safe Consumption Tips: Opt for shorter cooking times, limit intake, choose low-sodium options, use quality bones, and consider supplements for histamine intolerance.

What is Bone Broth and Why is it Popular?

Bone broth is made by simmering animal bones, bone marrow, and connective tissues in water for an extended period. This long cooking time helps extract collagen, gelatin, amino acids, and minerals from the animal bones and connective tissue into a nutrient-dense liquid.

The resulting bone broth is valued for its many potential health benefits. Here are some reasons this traditional food has become a popular wellness drink:

  • Gut health – The gelatin in bone broth may help seal openings in the intestinal lining and support a healthy gut microbiome and gut-associated lymphatic tissue.
  • Joint support – Bone broth provides collagen, gelatin, and amino acids like glycine and proline that support connective tissues and maintain the integrity of cartilage.
  • Skin and hair – The abundant collagen content in bone broth contributes to more youthful skin and strong hair.
  • Immune function – Bone broth delivers amino acids and antioxidants that support the immune system response.
  • Easy protein – Drinking bone broth provides an easily absorbed source of protein and amino acids often lacking in modern diets. The bone broth protein content also helps curb appetite.

With all of these promising nutritional benefits, it’s no wonder bone broth has become a popular wellness tonic. However, it does come with some potential side effects to keep in mind.

Nutrients in Bone Broth: Minerals, Amino Acids, and More

Bone broth, a rich and nourishing liquid obtained from simmering animal bones, connective tissues, and marrow for an extended period, is known for its diverse array of nutrients. Here’s a comprehensive list of nutrients commonly found in bone broth:

  1. Collagen: The main structural protein in bones, tendons, and skin, collagen breaks down into gelatin during cooking, which provides the broth with its thick, gel-like consistency.
  2. Gelatin: A form of cooked collagen, gelatin contains important amino acids and contributes to the broth’s gut-healing properties.
  3. Amino Acids: Bone broth is a rich source of amino acids, including:
    • Glycine: Supports detoxification in the body and promotes healthy digestion.
    • Proline: Aids in skin health by promoting the production of collagen.
    • Glutamine: Supports gut health and the maintenance of the intestinal lining.
    • Arginine: Helps with the production of nitric oxide, which is important for heart health and circulation.
  4. Minerals: The prolonged simmering of bones releases various essential minerals into the broth, such as:
    • Calcium: Vital for bone health and muscle function.
    • Phosphorus: Important for bones and teeth, and helps in energy production.
    • Magnesium: Crucial for many biochemical reactions in the body, including muscle and nerve function.
    • Potassium: Essential for heart health, muscle function, and maintaining a healthy fluid balance.
    • Sodium: Natural sodium is present and is important for fluid balance and nerve function.
  5. Glucosamine and Chondroitin: Naturally found in bones and connective tissue, these compounds are known for their joint-supporting benefits.
  6. Hyaluronic Acid: Present in connective tissue, hyaluronic acid helps maintain skin hydration and elasticity.
  7. Marrow: Eating bone marrow provides various nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin K2, iron, zinc, selenium, boron, and manganese.
  8. Fatty Acids: Bone marrow contains healthy fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
  9. Trace Elements: Small amounts of other minerals and elements like zinc, iron, boron, manganese, and selenium.
  10. Vitamins: While the vitamin content can vary, some vitamins typically found include B vitamins and vitamins A and K2, especially in a broth made from bones with remaining meat and connective tissue.

It’s important to note that the nutrient content in bone broth can vary based on the types of bones used (chicken, beef, fish), the cooking time, and whether additional ingredients (like vegetables or herbs) are included during simmering.

Types of Bone Broth

Bone broth can be made from a variety of animal bones, each offering its unique set of benefits. Here’s a comprehensive list of different types of bone broths and a summary of their benefits:

  1. Chicken Bone Broth:
    Chicken bone broth is particularly known for its ability to boost immune health. Often recommended for its comforting properties during colds or flu, it’s rich in amino acids like cysteine and collagen, which can help with respiratory health and gut healing.
  2. Beef Bone Broth:
    Beef broth, made from beef bones, marrow, and connective tissues, is exceptionally high in collagen and gelatin. This makes it great for joint health, skin elasticity, and maintaining strong bones. It’s also rich in minerals like calcium and phosphorus.
  3. Fish Bone Broth:
    Fish broth, typically made from the bones and heads of fish, is an excellent source of iodine, beneficial for thyroid function. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health and reducing inflammation.
  4. Pork Bone Broth:
    Pork bone broth is rich in vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, which are vital for energy production. It’s also a good source of gelatin, beneficial for gut health and aiding in digestive processes.
  5. Turkey Bone Broth:
    Similar to chicken broth, turkey broth is ideal for immune support and is rich in amino acids that aid in gut health. It’s also a good source of tryptophan, which can help in regulating sleep patterns and mood.
  6. Lamb Bone Broth:
    Lamb broth is typically richer in flavor and is a good source of minerals like zinc, important for immune function, and selenium, which plays a key role in antioxidant defense and thyroid health.
  7. Game Animal Bone Broth (like venison):
    Broth made from game animals are often high in protein and rich in minerals. It’s a good option for those looking for a nutrient-dense broth that’s also low in fat.

Each type of bone broth offers a unique flavor profile and nutrient composition, catering to different health needs and preferences.

The choice of bones (organic, grass-fed, etc.), along with the simmering time and additional ingredients, can further influence the nutritional value and health benefits of the broth.

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

The benefits of bone broth come from slowly simmering animal bones, bone marrow, connective tissue, and sometimes meat in water to extract the nutrients. Here’s a closer look at some of the top science-backed benefits of consuming bone broth:

Improves Gut Health

The collagen and gelatin peptides in bone broth can improve intestinal permeability, also known as “leaky gut syndrome.” This condition involves increased opening between intestinal cells that allow bacteria and toxins to leak into the bloodstream.

Consuming glycine and other amino acids in bone broth may help tighten these openings and reduce gut inflammation. It also provides glutamine which supports the health of the intestinal lining. By reducing leaky gut, bone broth enhances digestion gut healing, and immune function.

Supports Joint and Bone Health

Drinking bone broth provides your body with the amino acids glycine, proline, and glutamine that are building blocks for healthy cartilage and bone. Consuming these vital structural nutrients can prevent bone mineral density loss that leads to osteoporosis.

The collagen, gelatin, and glucosamine in bone broth also support joint health by maintaining the integrity of connective tissues. Studies show collagen supplementation significantly reduces joint pain and stiffness related to arthritis.

Contains Collagen for the Skin and Hair

Collagen makes up 70% of the skin and gives skin its structure and firmness. As we age, collagen production declines leading to wrinkles and sagging. The abundant collagen peptides in bone broth can increase collagen density in the skin for a more youthful complexion when consumed regularly.

Collagen also benefits hair strength and shine as it contains the amino acids that support healthy hair follicles for thicker, fuller hair. Drinking bone broth is an excellent way to replenish collagen via the gelatin it contains for skin, hair, and nails.

Who Should Be Cautious with Bone Broth?

While bone broth offers many benefits, it is not appropriate for everyone. Some specific groups may want to exercise caution with bone broth consumption:

Those with Histamine Intolerance

One of the most common reasons people experience adverse effects from bone broth is histamine intolerance. This affects approximately 1% of the population.

Histamine is an inflammatory compound released by immune cells during an allergic response. The body relies on enzymes like diamine oxidase (DAO) to break down histamine and stop the inflammatory reaction.

Those with histamine intolerance lack sufficient DAO enzymes to properly metabolize histamine. This leads to an accumulation of histamine that triggers symptoms.

Bone broth naturally contains high levels of histamine due to the long cooking times, which can reach 24-48 hours. Consuming bone broth adds a large histamine burden for those lacking adequate DAO enzymes.

Drinking bone broth with histamine intolerance can cause wide-ranging symptoms including:

  • Headaches
  • Flushing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Hives, itching
  • Swelling of tongue/throat
  • Respiratory distress
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

The high concentration of histamine in bone broth cannot be properly broken down in those with histamine intolerance. This results in excessive immune system activation and inflammation-related symptoms.

Healthy individuals produce enough DAO enzymes to metabolize the histamine in bone broth without issues. But those lacking DAO need to take precautions with bone broth intake.

Strategies like choosing shorter-cooked bone broth, limiting intake, and supplementing with digestive enzymes can help minimize symptoms for histamine-sensitive individuals. Working to heal gut imbalance and boost DAO activity can potentially improve tolerance long-term.

People Prone to Gout

Those susceptible to gout attacks should limit bone broth intake. This painful form of arthritis is caused by excess uric acid crystallizing in the joints.

Bone broth contains purines from the animal bones and marrow which can raise uric acid levels. People with gout or a family history should moderate bone broth consumption and watch for symptom flare-ups.

Individuals with Kidney Issues

People with kidney problems need to be mindful of the potentially high sodium levels in store-bought or homemade bone broths.

Chronic kidney disease patients are advised to limit daily sodium intake to 1500-2000 mg. One cup of commercial broth can contain 600-900 mg sodium.

Making homemade bone broth allows control over the salt content. Those with kidney issues should opt for lower-sodium recipes or unsalted bone broth.

Potential Bone Broth Side Effects

While quite safe for most, bone broth does come with some potential adverse effects to know about:

Digestive Upset

Some individuals may experience bloating, gas, or diarrhea when drinking bone broth, especially in large amounts. This is often due to the high gelatin content in making bone broth.

Starting with small amounts of bone broth and gradually increasing intake allows your digestive system to adapt. Making your own bone broth also allows you to moderate gelatin content.

High Sodium Content

Many prepared and store-bought bone broths can be very high in sodium content, sometimes up to 900 mg per serving. Consuming high sodium foods regularly is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.

Checking nutrition labels and choosing low-sodium bone broth options is recommended, especially for those limiting sodium intake. Making your own broth also gives control over sodium levels.

Lead Contamination

There has been some concern over possible lead leaching from animal bones into bone broth during extended cooking times. Lead toxicity can cause serious health issues like infertility and kidney damage.

However, recent research has found lead levels in bone broth to be minimal as long as bones from quality pasture-raised animals are used. Choosing organic and lead-free bones can help minimize contamination risk.

Allergic Reactions

Some people may be allergic to the proteins found in certain animal bones used to make bone broth. Allergies to chicken, beef, pork and fish bones are most common. Those with known food allergies should check ingredients carefully.

How to Drink Bone Broth Safely

Despite a few potential side effects, bone broth can still be incorporated safely into your diet. Here are some tips:

Opt for Shorter Simmer Times

Limiting the cooking time for boiling animal bones to 12-24 hours reduces the histamine content and any leaching of lead from the animal bones into the bone broth. Shorter simmer times mean slightly fewer nutrients extracted, but avoids side effects for those sensitive.

Limit Quantity Consumed

Start with 1 cup of bone broth daily and slowly increase intake as tolerated to avoid digestive issues. Moderating consumption also limits purine and sodium exposure for those prone to gout or kidney problems.

Look for Low-Sodium Options

Seeking lower-sodium bone broth ensures you avoid excess sodium, which can affect those with hypertension or renal disorders. Make your own bone or vegetable broth, using limited salt or opt for no-salt-added bone broth products.

Use Quality Bones

Source bones from reputable suppliers that use organic, grass-fed animals to minimize risks of lead contamination and allergies. Bones should come from animals raised in healthy environments without antibiotics or hormones.

Supplement with Digestive Enzymes

If histamine intolerance is a concern, try taking diamine oxidase (DAO) enzyme supplements to aid in metabolizing histamine from the bone broth. DAO supplements provide the needed enzymes that those with histamine intolerance are lacking.

Try Gelatin or Collagen Supplements

For some, gelatin or hydrolyzed collagen supplements are lower in histamines and easier to tolerate than directly consuming bone broth. These provide similar benefits without provoking as strong of an immune response.

A quick Google search will offer a load of options. Below are a few recommendations to save you time – as always, quality is important here:


Bone broth has recently surged in popularity for its impressive list of potential health and anti-aging benefits. The gelatin, amino acids, and minerals extracted from simmering animal bones and connective tissue may promote gut health, joint support, skin vitality, and immune function.

However, bone broth is not appropriate for everyone. Those with histamine intolerance, gout, kidney issues, or allergies need to exercise more caution with consuming bone broth.

Potential side effects like digestive upset, high sodium content, lead exposure, and allergic reactions need to be considered. How the bone broth is prepared and consumed determines safety.

By making your own bone broth using high-quality bones and cooking for shorter periods, limiting intake, and being mindful of dietary needs, this traditional food can be incorporated as part of a healthy lifestyle. Speak with your doctor if you have any concerns about consuming bone broth regularly.

And that’s it… have a nutritious day!

FAQs: Bone Broth Side Effects

What is the downside of bone broth?

The main downsides of drinking bone broth regularly include the potential for digestive upset, high sodium content in prepared animal bone broths alone, heightened histamine response in sensitive individuals, and risk of exposure to lead or allergens. Using caution with intake and preparation can minimize negative effects.

Are there side effects to drinking bone broth?

Yes, some potential side effects of drinking bone broth, especially in excess, include digestive issues like bloating and diarrhea due to the high gelatin content. Those with histamine intolerance may experience headaches, itching, and congestion. High sodium, lead contamination, and allergic reactions can also occur.

Is it OK to drink bone broth every day?

Drinking a cup or two of bone broth daily is likely fine for most healthy people. However, those with histamine intolerance, gout, kidney disease, or allergies should exercise more caution and limit intake to avoid side effects and complications.

What does Mayo Clinic say about bone broth?

According to Mayo Clinic, there is limited evidence that bone broth provides more health benefits versus eating a balanced diet. They also note those with histamine intolerance or gout should limit intake. Overall, they consider bone broth safe in moderation but do not recommend overdoing it.

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