Essential minerals: supercharge your (or your child’s) diet with homemade beef bone stock

When it comes to maintaining or regaining health, nothing plays as important a role as proper mineral balance in the body. Although we no longer hear much about it

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, leading experts in the field of nutritional medicine sounded the alarm as early as the 1930’s and 40’s: modern agricultural practices were depleting the soil, generating widespread mineral deficiencies and imbalances. This in turn left us vulnerable to weakened immunity, digestive and nervous system disorders, and more. When combined with the dramatic spread of environmental chemicals and other toxins over the past half century, the recipe for disaster is complete.

Those sounding the alarm were the likes of Henry Bieler, MD, and Max Gerson, MD. Dr. Bieler wrote the book “Food is Your Best Medicine.” He believed in drug-free medicine and was well-known at the time for being the personal physician to Greta Garbo and other stars. He was also known because his patients had a habit of living well into their nineties. Dr. Gerson authored “A Cancer Therapy.” He used food, vegetable juices, and little else to successfully treat diseases ranging from migraines to diabetes and even cancer.

Mineral supplements can help correct deficiency in some instances; however, many essential minerals are poorly absorbed from supplements. In addition, manmade supplements that are not properly balanced can aggravate any existing imbalance. The bottom line is that only natural unprocessed foods contain minerals in optimal ratios and, in fact, the body is ideally suited to absorb minerals from food rather than supplements.

Among mineral-rich foods, bone broth or stock holds a position of preeminence. Not only is it a treasure trove of minerals in absorbable form, it is also a rich source of other nutrients that are essential for every aspect of health. Stock has a long history in human nutrition and there was a time when it was prepared regularly in every family kitchen.

Not only was it a part of everyone’s diet, it was also prescribed as medicine and was researched extensively for its health enhancing benefits until the early 20th century. Then it was progressively abandoned, in part because the modern food industry discovered it could use cheap chemicals to create any flavor it wanted, and in part because medicine lost interest in anything other than drugs and surgery.

Allison Siebecker wrote an interesting article on the medical uses and health benefits of bone broth that was published in the March 2005 issue of the Townsend Letter that can be found free online at Though the subject matter could be written off as just food, the article carries 69 references to research and a bibliography of four books. At the end of the article the author lists conditions that can benefit from broth, of which I am including an abbreviated version at the end of this piece.

Broth was prescribed for conditions ranging from colds and flu, to a variety of digestive disorders, and conditions affecting the joints, skin, lungs, muscles and blood. It was added to baby milk to treat colic or failure to thrive, and was prescribed for children who had trouble digesting the proteins in milk and wheat. It helped malnourished children and adults regain their strength, and was used as adjunct therapy in conditions as serious as cancer and TB.

When it comes to making broth, the quality of the bones you use is of the essence simply because if the animals were not fed appropriately their bones are not likely to be healthy or nutrient-rich, plus hormones and antibiotics given to commercial cattle are likely to accumulate in bones or fatty tissues like marrow.

I recommend only buying bones from hormone- and antibiotic-free grass-fed animals, and organic is a plus. If you live in Texas, the best source I have found is This farm is located in the Texas Panhandle but they deliver throughout the state every two months. If you live elsewhere and similar websites are good resources.

If you’d like to get fancy and learn about all the different types of stock and how to make them I recommend you buy the excellent book “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig. Otherwise here is a simple recipe that has worked very well for me.

Start out with equal amounts of marrowbones and soup (knuckle) bones. I use approximately two pounds of each, basically because that’s how Paidom sells them and it works well that way.

Both types of bones are needed. Marrow is where the body stores stem cells and converts them to blood cells or releases them in circulation to repair damaged tissues. It is an area of the body where all the nutrients needed to sustain life are concentrated. Soup bones are usually knucklebones or other bones containing cartilage. Cartilage converts to gelatin. It is a rich source of amino acids, like glycine, that enhance the body’s detoxification ability by stimulating production of glutathione. Cartilage is also a source of chondroitin sulfate that helps heal arthritic joints.

Both types of bones are rich sources of minerals, and I am not speaking of just calcium, but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulfur and trace minerals, all of which play essential roles in health.

Wash the bones in running water; then place the knuckle and marrow bones in a large pot with 1/2 cup vinegar and cover with clean, filtered water. The vinegar will evaporate completely and so it is safe even for small children. The vinegar creates an acidic environment that helps to draw the minerals out of the bones. Meanwhile, place the meatier bones in a roasting pan and brown at 350 degrees (about 15 minutes). Add the browned bones to the pot (along with any fat that is left in the pan) along with about 3 chopped onions, 3 chopped carrots and 3 chopped celery sticks. It is important not to overdo it on the vegetables as that can lead to a very bitter finished product! Add additional water if needed, but be sure to leave room at the top of the pot (about 1 inch) for the stock to expand.

Bring to a boil, and then remove any scum that comes to the top with a spoon. Reduce the heat to a low simmer, add about 1 tsp ground green peppercorns and thyme (optional), cover the pot tightly, and allow it to simmer for a minimum of 24 hours (36 hours is better but not necessary). I know it’s a long time but once you get it to the right heat it requires very little supervision. Just before finishing, add one bunch of parsley and simmer for 10 more minutes. Parsley adds additional nutrients and will help to alkalize your stock. At this point you will remove all the bones and vegetables, strain, and refrigerate. Once it is chilled you can skim off the fat, place in separate containers and refrigerate for up to a week, or freeze indefinitely. You’ll lose about a quart to evaporation.

I recommend drinking a cup a day for adults or children, and proportionately less for toddlers or babies. If your child doesn’t like it, try to find creative solutions to get him or her to drink it. Some parents have added it to juice or sweetened it with stevia and turned it into a sweet chilled drink!

Here is a partial listing of conditions that broth benefits:
Aging skin, allergies, anemia, anxiety, asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit, poor digestion, brittle nails, Celiac Disease, colic, constipation, dental degeneration, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, fatigue, food sensitivities, fractures, gastritis, heart conditions, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, low immunity, inflammation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, insomnia, reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, memory loss, muscle cramps or spasms, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, seizures, weight loss due to illness, wound healing, and more!

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