Benefits of Bone Marrow + 4 Ways To Prepare It

Heather Dessinger

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health benefits of bone marrow

Sometimes called “beef butter” due to its rich texture and delicious flavor, bone marrow has been used for countless generations to make bone broth, soups, stews, savory compound butters and dessert custards.

Its versatility in both sweet and savory dishes is just the beginning of its remarkable qualities, though. Rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, K, and E – plus unique compounds that are not commonly found in other foods – bone marrow is a nutritional powerhouse. (1)

Traditional cultures have used it to support immune function, deep sleep, youthful skin, detoxification and more. In this article, we’ll dive into what modern research says about its health benefits, plus how to prepare it in four different ways.

health benefits of bone marrow

Immune Support

Beef bone marrow is a rich source of alkylglycerols (AKGs), which support both the innate and adaptive immune system. (2)(3)(4)(5) Our innate immune system is a non-specific first line of defense, while our adaptive immune system is an intelligent, specialized response to specific threats (a particular bacteria, for example).

Significant dietary sources of AKGs are rare. Cow’s milk contains some, but it’s roughly a tenth of what is found in human breast milk. (2)

Other than beef marrow, I only know of a couple of concentrated sources of AKGs. One is shark liver, which has long been used in Scandinavian folk medicine to support wound healing, immune function, fertility support and more. (2) However, due to overharvesting several deepwater species are now threatened. (6)

The other is ratfish liver oil, which is available as a supplement.

Sleep & Emotional Well-Being

Bone marrow also contains an amino acid called glycine, which plays a vital role in memory, relaxation and mood.

In this study, when glycine was taken about 30 minutes before bed, the participants fell asleep faster and also experienced improved sleep quality (especially REM sleep).

Glycine also supports the body’s production of serotonin, which is a hormone and neurotransmitter that is thought to regulate mood, happiness and anxiety. (7)

Also, serotonin is a building block for melatonin, aka the “sleep hormone.” Research suggests that less-than-optimal serotonin levels can lead to a deficiency in melatonin production. (8)

bone marrow custard recipe

Detox Support

Glycine also supports Phase I and II liver detoxification, which is one of the five detox pathways that help reduce body burden.

Here are some other ways to support detoxification naturally.

Blood Sugar Balance & Metabolic Function

Sometimes called The Fat Burning Hormone, adiponectin is a compound found in beef marrow that supports healthy blood sugar balance by positively influencing insulin sensitivity. (9) (10) It gets its name from “adip,” which means “fat” in Latin, and “nectin,” which means “binding.”

Beef marrow also contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), an anti-inflammatory compound that is thought to support healthy metabolic function. (11)

bone marrow custard recipe

Skin Elasticity & Hydration

Marrow is rich in collagen, which plays a huge role in skin health, especially resilience and suppleness. (12)

Several studies, many of which I dive into here, have found that regular consumption of collagen increases skin’s elasticity and hydration.

Before we move on to the next section, here’s one quick bonus benefit: Although most of the research on the external benefits of collagen focuses on skin, it plays a crucial role in hair and nail health, too.

  • One of the amino acids found in collagen – proline – forms the main building block for hair (keratin).
  • And in this study, participants who were given 2.5 grams of collagen peptides for six months experienced an increased nail growth rate and fewer broken/brittle nails. (13)

Joint Health

Collagen is the glue that holds together our cartilage, which helps protect and cushion our joints. Several studies have shown that consuming collagen reduces joint discomfort in athletes and other groups. (14) (15) (16)

Marrow is also rich in glucosamine, which is an amino sugar that supports cartilage formation and its overall function.

Gut Health

Glycine also supports the integrity of gut mucosal barrier, which is vital for nutrient absorption and overall health. (17)

The essential fatty acids found in beef bone marrow also support overall health by encouraging gut microbiome diversity. (18) (19)

bone marrow butter

Bone Marrow Recipes To Try

Bone Broth – One of the easiest ways to incorporate bone marrow into your diet is to drink bone broth or use it as a base for homemade soups and stews. Here’s how to make bone broth in an Instant Pot, and here’s how to make it in a slow cooker.

Roasted Bone Marrow Butter – Made with marrow, butter and fresh herbs, this compound butter is perfect for spreading over a slice of crusty bread.

Vanilla Bone Marrow Custard – Sweet, rich, and deeply nourishing, this custard is one dessert that my kids never seem to get enough of.

Roasted Bone Marrow – Sometimes called “beef butter,” bone marrow has a rich, slightly nutty flavor that also works beautifully in savory dishes. This recipe is perfect for spreading over a slice of crusty gluten-free bread.


  1. I. Made Tangkas et. al. (2019) Multinutrients from Local Cattle Bone Marrow in Central Sulawesi of Indonesia Have the Potential to Improve the Successful Pregnancy Rate and Prevent Slowing of Fetal Kidney Growth
  2. Tommaso Iannitti and Beniamino Palmieri (2010) An Update on the Therapeutic Role of Alkylglycerols
  3. Linxi Qian et. al. (2014) Alkylglycerols Modulate the Proliferation and Differentiation of Non-Specific Agonist and Specific Antigen-Stimulated Splenic Lymphocytes
  4. Anne-Laure Deniau et. al. (2010) Multiple Beneficial Health Effects of Natural Alkylglycerols from Shark Liver Oil
  5. S Y Oh , L S Jadhav (1994) Effects of dietary alkylglycerols in lactating rats on immune responses in pups
  6. The Conversation. Fished for their meat and liver oil, many remarkable deep-water sharks and rays now face extinction
  7. Breus, Michael (2019) 4 Sleep Benefits of Glycine
  8. Leu-Semenescu, Smaranda et. al. (2010) Sleep and rhythm consequences of a genetically induced loss of serotonin
  9. Cell Metabolism: “Bone Marrow Adipose Tissue Is an Endocrine Organ that Contributes to Increased Circulating Adiponectin during Caloric Restriction.”
  10. Mingshun Zhang et. al. (2013) Oral Administration of Alkylglycerols Differentially Modulates High-Fat Diet-Induced Obesity and Insulin Resistance in Mice
  11. Leah D Whigham et. al. (2007) Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta-analysis in humans
  12. Choi, Franchesca et. al. (2019) Oral Collagen Supplementation: A Systematic Review of Dermatological Applications
  13. Hexsel, Doris et. al. (2017) Oral supplementation with specific bioactive collagen peptides improves nail growth and reduces symptoms of brittle nails
  14. Clark, Kristine et. al. (2008) 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain
  15. Schauss, Alexander (2012) Effect of the novel low molecular weight hydrolyzed chicken sternal cartilage extract, BioCell Collagen, on improving osteoarthritis-related symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial
  16. Bello, Alfonso and Oesser, Steffen (2006) Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature
  17. Jingqing Chen et. al. (2021) Dietary Supplementation with Glycine Enhances Intestinal Mucosal Integrity and Ameliorates Inflammation in C57BL/6J Mice with High-Fat Diet–Induced Obesity
  18. Cristina Menni et. al. (2017) Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women
  19. Cristina Menni et. al. (2017) Omega-3 fatty acids correlate with gut microbiome diversity and production of N-carbamylglutamate in middle aged and elderly women

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Heather is a holistic health educator, herbalist, DIYer, Lyme and mold warrior. Since founding in 2009, Heather has been taking complicated health research and making it easy to understand. She shares tested natural recipes and herbal remedies with millions of naturally minded mamas around the world. 

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