Bone Meal

General Description:

Bone Meal is produced from defatted, dried animal bones that are ground to a fine powder. It is used as a mineral supplement and is high in calcium and phosphorus.

Medically Valid Uses:

Bone meal is used supplementally as a source of calcium, phosphorus and trace elements.

Calcium makes up the mineral content of bones and teeth. It is necessary for muscle contraction, nerve transmission, blood clotting, hormone synthesis and a host of other functions. Calcium also improves the stability of cell membranes and aids in the passage of nutrients and other substances in and out of cells.

Phosphorus, the other major component of bone meal, is necessary for cell growth, as well as bone and tooth formation. It is also necessary for heart muscle contraction and proper kidney function.

Unsubstantiated Claims:

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Bone meal may also help with osteoporosis, insomnia and heartbeat irregularities. It has been used to relieve growing pains in children when administered with vitamins A and D, and to help prevent osteomalacia (rickets).

Dosing Format:

The recommended dietary allowance of calcium for adults under 50 is 1,000 mg; for adults over 50 it is 1,200 mg.

The recommended daily intake of calcium for children ages 6 to 8 is 800 mg, and 1,300 mg for children ages 9 to 18 years of age.

Women who are pregnant or breast-feeding may be prescribed additional calcium but should consult a physician before taking any dietary supplements.

Side Effects, Toxicity and Interactions:

Some of the trace elements contained in bone meal can also be beneficial. However, concerns about bone meal's high lead content and possible elevated mercury levels raise questions about using bone meal as a supplement. Typical lead content in bone meal is significantly higher than that in refined calcium carbonate, which is a laboratory-processed calcium.

An additional concern is the possible transmission of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or "mad cow disease." Bone meal and other animal byproducts that have been used as animal feed or supplements have been shown to transmit BSE. The type of processing determines whether the infectious agent is present. No studies are currently available that determine the safety of bone meal for human consumption.

There are no known significant food or drug interactions associated with bone meal.

Additional Information:

The mineral content of steamed bone meal by percentage is calcium, 30.71 percent; phosphorus, 12.86 percent; sodium, 5.69 percent; magnesium, 0.33 percent; potassium, 0.19 percent; and sulfur, 2.51 percent. Other microminerals include copper, iodine, iron, manganese and zinc.

Click here for a list of reputable Web sites with general information on nutrition.


  1. Runyan TJ. Nutrition for Today. 1976;5:60.

  2. Ensminger ME, Olentine CG. Feeds and Nutrition 1978;1:366-367.

  3. Marin EM. Report on the clinical use of bone meal. Can Med Assoc J. 1944;50:562.

  4. Ochs R. Getting the Lead Out? Researcher says some calcium supplements contain more lead than children, pregnant women should ingest. Newsday 1993;08(31):61.

  5. Taylor DM, Woodgate SL, Atkinson MJ. Inactivation of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy agent by rendering procedures. Vet Rec. 1995;137(24):605-10.

  6. Moennig V, Fritzemeier J. [Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies]. DTW Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 1997; 104(7):251-3.

  7. Taylor DM, Woodgate SL, Fleetwood AJ, Cawthorne RJ. Effect of rendering procedures on the scrapie agent. Vet Rec. 1997;141(25):643-9.

  8. Fontaine JJ. [Bovine spongiform encephalopathy and natural scrapie]. C R Seances Soc Biol Fil. 1997;191(5-6):731-53.

Connect with MLH

New Appointments

 Well Ahead Newsletter


Copyright 2014 Main Line Health

Printed from:

The information provided in this Web site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice. All medical information presented should be discussed with your healthcare professional. See additional Terms of Use at For more information, call 1.866.CALL.MLH.