The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
January 20, 2014

Eating Eggshells for Calcium?

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wpid-20140120_121918-1.jpgAs I mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to reduce the number of supplements I take (and hence, supplement packaging) by getting my nutrients from whole foods instead of pills.  So a few weeks ago, I was wondering aloud (apparently, I’ve started talking to myself a lot lately) about how I could get more calcium, and Michael, whose mind goes all sorts of random places, said, “You eat an egg everyday.  Why not eat the shell, too?”  He wasn’t serious.  But I wondered if eating eggshells was a thing.  You know, a thing that people do.  So of course, I turned to that trove of wisdom called Google, and lo and behold, there were lots of posts about how to do just that.

Before I go further… once again… I am not a doctor.  I am not suggesting that you or anyone else should eat eggshells.  I’m simply reporting my own experience.

Okay, so first I found this discussion, which lists several different studies examining whether chicken eggshells are a viable source of calcium for humans.  One study compares the nutritional components of eggshells from chickens raised in different conditions (PDF) (caged, organic, pastured) vs. other types of calcium supplements.  Another study shows that the bone mass density of the hips of healthy, post-menopausal Dutch women was increased after a year of supplemental chicken egg calcium.  And a third study shows eggshell calcium is also good for piglets.

So, I started collecting my eggshells.

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Important:  Once every ten to fourteen days, I buy a dozen local, organic, certified humane eggs* and hard boil all of them at once.  That way, they are available for snacking when I need protein.  This also means that the eggshells I collect have been sterilized in boiling water.  I am not eating raw eggshells!  So, if you don’t have a supply of hard boiled eggs on hand, and if you decide to try this, you should boil your eggshells before ingesting them.  That is my opinion, of course.

I also decided to keep the membrane with the shells.  According to a 2009 study, eggshell membrane “contains naturally occurring glycosaminoglycans and proteins essential for maintaining healthy joint and connective tissues.”  Granted, that study was sponsored by a company that sells an eggshell membrane supplement product.  But I figured, why not eat it straight from the source?

Once I have a good amount of eggshells saved up, I put them in the toaster oven on low heat for 15 minutes to get them completely dried out and brittle.   They might need to be baked longer, depending on how wet they are to start out with.

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Then, I grind them up into a fine powder in my coffee grinder.  (Yes, this coffee grinder is plastic, but I got it used several years ago from a guy on Craigslist.  I would not have bought a new one.)

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I store the powder in a glass jar in my refrigerator.

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How do I take it?  I add a half a teaspoon to my green smoothie every morning.  Yeah, it’s a little bit gritty.  But I don’t mind the texture.  The nuts and seeds and veggies in my smoothie are not completely smooth either.

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Why half a teaspoon?  Well, according to this study, eggshell powder contains roughly 400 milligrams of calcium per gram.  My kitchen scale is not sensitive enough to measure units smaller than grams, but it seems that a half teaspoon of eggshell powder weighs somewhere between 1 and 2 grams, depending on the mood of my scale when I take the measurement.  And others on the Internet report the same amounts.

Here are a few other bloggers who make and consume eggshell calcium:

Mama Natural mixes it with water and takes it with a meal.

Bee Wilder writes that you should take magnesium along with the calcium.  As I mentioned in my post a few days ago, I already take a magnesium supplement every day.  But also, some of the ingredients in my smoothie–dark, leafy greens and nuts and seeds–also contain magnesium.  She also recommends combining it with lemon juice to form calcium citrate, which is more absorbable.  I’m not doing that step because a) I have plenty of stomach acid to break down the calcium carbonate, b) I add citrus to my smoothie, so at least I’m consuming it with some extra acid, and c) it’s just easier not to.

And a bunch of people on this Paleo Diet website seem to be one upping each other.  One guy accidentally got eggshell in his smoothie and wonders if it would be good for him.  A respondee says he grinds it up and puts it in his smoothie, and then he jokes that he rips up the egg carton and adds that too for fiber.  Then a woman responds that she eats hard boiled eggs without taking off the shell.  And the next guy says he eats raw eggs that way, shell and all, popping the whole thing into his mouth.  Just thinking about that last one makes me gag.  And I do worry about things like salmonella.  But, like I said, your mileage may vary.

There are lots more websites advocating the benefits of eggshell calcium.  And there are also expensive, commercial eggshell powders in plastic bottles that you can buy.  Because if something natural works, it’s gotta be better if you bottle it in plastic and slap a label on it, right?  Just ask the bottled water industry.

*Yes, I am aware that eggs are problematic even if they come from certified humane sources.  I wrote about it here.  But local, organic eggs and cheese are the few animal sources of protein that I am not willing to give up right now.

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67 Comments on "Eating Eggshells for Calcium?"

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How long does it retain its benefits in the refrigerator?

when you heat your eggs over 40c you denature the protein also the coagulation of 2 of the chemicals in the white also mean you are not getting much of the protein the optimum way to consume your eggs is separate the yolk from the white the yolk and white both contain the same amino acids but the yolk works on the heart nervous system and the brain providing 50 of the nutrients required for them and the white works on muscles if you drink some acetic acid in distilled water 1 teaspoon in 5-8 ounces of water this will… Read more »

I’ve add 1/2 tsp powdered 1dz organic egg shells with 1/4cup powdered quinoa, 1/4 c powdered pumpkin seeds and about 2 1/4 c water. I cooked the powdered quinoa in 2 1/4 cups water. I add 1tbsp raw honey, 1 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp unrefined coconut oil. I also add 2tbsp powdered flax seeds. I’m a diabetic. I do not add sugar.

What about sea shells?
We are 70%water,like a lake they put lime to not make it sour.
Shells would be the most natural way of getting lime?for our body to maintain right pH in our body and keep it healthy,sea shells should also have some good minerals and salt that we need?haven’t done any reach about this,just started to think about it:)

Hi , I consume duck egg shells for quite a while but I read somewhere before, 1 tsp contain 400mg of ca, I recently have problems with my stomach,, constant burping without excessive acid and I`m trying put all things together. Basically, if I made mistake and took 1 tsp as 400mg only and its much more, I might do sth to my digestive enzymes. I`m reading the article u mentioned but still didnt find an information about amount of ca. I guess I keep reading
Also, I`ll be appreciated for any suggestions

Simplify = 2 whole shell eggs raw, Wash the shells as you would your hands toss both egg’s in blender with a banana or favorite mix, blend on low for 30 sec’s with few cubes of ice and presto ! banana egg shake drink it all even shell bits our stomach ph can drop to 2.0 even 1.5, far far acidic enough to digest egg shells, = and the eggs are’t exactly bad for you !!! https://www.facebook.com/groups/448750418613708/

Hi, I am agree with you, dear
I am an Iranian traditional Doctor which other people called herbal doctor.
within last 5 years I used more than 2 ton eggshell for my Patients.
Most of Iranian people have Calcium deficiency.
don’t be worry, it’s OK.

Thanks for sharing

Why is eating eggshells better than taking the calcium citrate supplement that I take every day?

Well indeed eating eggshell is better than a supplement. Eggshell is a food source of calcium, whereas calcium supplements are mostly drived from lime rock. You do not absorb lime rock calcium. It mostly gets eliminated by your kidneys, hence higher chance of Kidney stone. It can also harden/calcify your arterioles and cause arteriosclerosis.

This is false. The hydrochloric acid in your stomach is more than capable of digesting calcium carbonate, the form of calcium found in limestone, given enough surface area (obviously a giant rock of calcium carbonate will not dissolve nearly as easily or completely as crushed/powdered will (so just give your supplement a few quick bites if you want to be extra sure it’s breaking down). If calcium carbonate didn’t dissolve in the stomach, than antacids like Tums and Rolaids (which are calcium carbonate with flavoring) wouldn’t work. Once calcium has been absorbed into your body, your kidneys, muscles and heart… Read more »

calcium must be bound to picolinate in order for your cells to absorb it this is why cows milk is useless as a source of calcium.

I have a four-year-old and an eight-year-old who have problems with their teeth. We have them on the fermented cod liver oil and change some of their diet according to the remineralizing protocol. It has been very hard to keep them on that diet since I am the only one putting the effort in. I was doing some research on egg shells and wondered if you could point me in the direction of how much to give children each day in their smoothie Or yogurt. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you so much.

you will need boron, and be careful of what you put into the 4 year old as this is the time the stomachs acids have just developed, the best thing you could do for them is to provide them with distilled water by putting a filtration system on the incoming water the fluoride in the water supply decimates teeth, fluoride stops amelioblasts hardening the teeth if fluoride worked no-one would have cavities due to t he excessive amount they give to us, as well as chlorine destroying oxygen in the body and don’t forget the 70 thousand other contaminants in… Read more »

1/2 tsp of egg shell is equivalent to 400 mg of calcium. Give 1/2 tsp twice daily. Don’t forget to supplement Vitamin D (your cod liver oil should have it) for optimum absorbtion.

I have started with the egg shells for over a week but not every day. i started because my teeth are hollowing out and getting sensitive to touch. I add a tsp to icecream just to help it go easy. Very do-able. I can tell improvments. i want to try the bea method with lemon juice. My mom had very bad boned because of soda drinking and being alergic to dairy. I gave her some too. Is the coffee grinder easier because I have a Montel Williams blender & it does great on making them powder but it scratched the… Read more »

Thanks for the great post. Just be careful about hard-boiling a dozen eggs and keeping them in the fridge for snacks. In some European countries it is against food safety laws for restaurants to keep hard boiled eggs overnight, they must discard leftovers at the end of the day!

Simple, Take 2 whole egg’s, wash em off, toss em in blender with 1-2 bananas and vanilla ice yogurt and have at it, Super good, and nutritional benefits to boot, and if you have Arthritis, it works for that as well,

BethTerry All the nutrients would already have gone into the water you boiled it in. It wouldn’t do any good to set in the lemon after boiling it.

I don’t even cook my eggshells. I let them air dry on a plate, when I have a few stored up I grind them with a coffee grinder, store it in a jar with the rest of my vitamins. When I eat it, I just take a spoonful, sometimes I down it with water. It’s actually not that bad plain.

Henna: Why do you take supplements at all?
My Depo Provera injections [contraceptive administered every 3 months] leeched the calcium out of my teeth and they are now concerningly clear and i am losing tensile strength to chomp down on various foods. The doctors were only warning me of this after I had already been on it for 10 years it is unfortunate

I may try to grind it up really fine and add it to a seafood chowder or other thick soup where it will not be noticeable I am not good about taking supplements and I eat the kale whenever possible but since I am calcium deficient I do not want to throw out the eggshells now lol and my grandma always used them for gardening as well.

is it safe ?

@Henna we do it cause it’s no longer in our food. thought everyone knew that.

Not directly, of course. Chomping raw eggshells doesn’t palate
so good, but you can procedure and eat them in such a way that your bones will
thank you. Here’s how! Valuable Nutrition forhttp://www.gourmed.com/: Eggshells and More.

Its even easier if you bake your eggs for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  They’re easier to peel and dry much faster.  Thanks for your post, I just started grinding my egg shells, but unfortunately it seems my coffee grinder doesn’t get the pieces as well ground as yours.  I’m definitely going to try putting them in my smoothie next time to hopefully get them even more finely ground and add citrus and greens.

I really like your thoughtfulness. I’ve rarely seen anyone who can see beyond the obvious use of plastic like you. But I’d still like to ask you: Why do you take supplements at all? Are you ill or did your doctor certify you a lack of these minerals? Because for every ‘not enough’, there’s also a ‘too much’. Everything’s poison to a body when you eat too much of it, no matter how healthy it may be. If you are in fact ill, then there’s no way I’m stopping you, but, you see, in earlier ages people didn’t have to… Read more »

Everyone knows the average american diet is not near enough to stay healthy and to fully take of yourself. Our food quality has been going down for decades now, it’s nothing new.

Why taking supplements? How do you know the exact amount of any given nutritional component that YOUR body needs NOW? Not even the best quilified dietician can tell you that because he/she would have to have you take a test every single day, few times a day and a lack of any specific nutrient may also be due to a lack (i.e. phosporus, vit.C etc.) or too much (i.e. proteins…especially animal derived) of another. Moreover, a test showing that a particular nutrient is there does not mean you body is actually using it or using it as it should. Thus,… Read more »
False. Your body does not inherently know what nutrients are in what foods and by the time you do get a craving (if at all) you are in serious trouble. And fun fact, iron deficiency and anemia most often result in a craving for dirt and ice (which ha ps no iron), meat/leafy greens/poultry, which would provide you with substantial amounts of iron and folic acid to cure the deficiency. Yes, everyone SHOULD ideally get everything they need from their diet. However, food is simply not as nutritious as it used to be and processed foods are a very real… Read more »

@Elizabeth  What if you hard boil it first and then put it in the juice?

@jonnie  I need to get a physical soon.  Is this something that my regular doctor could order?

@Kendal Hi Kendal.  Wow, I hadn’t even thought about what the inside might be coated with.  It’s an old Black and Decker toaster oven that belonged to my husband before we got married.  But check it out… just this week I discovered a cool alternative to the tray that comes with the toaster over… LunchBots stainless steel containers.  Or, any kind of stainless steel container, for that matter.  But the http://www.amazon.com/LunchBots-Stainless-Steel-Food-Container/dp/B0044R7VTS?tag=fakplafis-20&linkCode=ptl&linkId=866c3bc5-b374-4fb2-aa69-cf782df5b48d container fits perfectly in mine.

@jonnie  Very cool.

I soak the shells for a few days and use the calcium water a a soil supplement.

A great way to find a truly humane source for eggs is through Eggzy.net, a site that connects backyard chicken flock owners with those who wish to purchase eggs. 
Folks are enjoying raising chickens, and are finding themselves with too many eggs…

I’ve found Black & decker toaster ovens without any coating. Just stainless steel.

Beth, I love all of your blogs and always learn so much (as i continue to do from your book every time i pick it up and re-read it!) This one about eggs particularly hits home for me as i am also giving up supplements. 1)They come in too much plastic and 2) if we eat healthy we shouldn’t need them. Calcium is one of those things that i am concerned about though. I have osteopenia and my mom had really bad osteoporosis. Thank you for all your research and helping me with this. Davis and i don’t eat a… Read more »

instead of saving your eggshells, use them immediately with banana and greens in a smoothie. You could as someone suggested, use the whole uncooked organic egg and shell (cleaned) in your smoothie. I wish you success in improving your bone health! You can!

FYI: Chicken eat their eggs when they are left to live in their more natural state- which means they are not exploitated, which means they are not used in any way however “humanely” we say we treat them. By eating their eggs they replenish the nutrients they lose.

Thank you for this interesting post Beth! People (at least in the Netherlands) emphasize that we should consume milk and other dairy products to meet our calcium needs. Eating egg shells could be a great solution for people who would like to reduce their dairy products, but are afraid they can’t be without the calcium in milk products.

Not quite related to the post at hand, but what kind of toaster oven do you use?  I’m looking to buy one and am having trouble finding one without nonstick coating.  Some of them have insides coated with non-stick, and the one I found that does not comes with a non-stick tray!  Any suggestions?

Have you ever done a baseline lab assay to establish your nutritional profile? I know they have mixed results, but might be interesting.

Great stuff, I just ground up a batch. I also give some to my dogs with their dog food (raw). They love it!

I don`t like to eat eggshells, but I use them in my garden as fertilizer.

My husband puts an egg in a glass of lemon juice for about 8 hours.  The lemon juice is supposed to extract the calcium to make calcium citrate.  He then drinks the juice and we use the egg when ready.  You can notice a substantial difference in the egg after it’s been in the juice — it’s much more fragile.  You can’t hard boil after this!

Jennifer, some of the foods with the highest levels of Calcium can be found in vegetables, not animals. Look up Kale, Collard Greens, Spinach and other veggies, seeds, nuts, etc.

Great idea! Currently I do the same but instead of me eating them I crush them up and give them to my chickens. I need to find a used grinder because my current one is used for coffee.

I understand. I am definitely at risk for osteoporosis (small, Asian, vegetarian), so I know I should be paying more attention to calcium intake, but I don’t think I could stomach eggshells. Thank you for motivating me to look up other calcium sources!

I can’t stand that either, but I’d try it ground to a fine powder.

Jennifer Mo Unfortunately most of the things on that list with the highest amounts of calcium are fortified processed, packaged foods that I’m not eating. And I’ve reduced my sugar intake so molasses wouldn’t really be something I’d eat either.

I tried it.

Great post!! Thank you!!!I’ve been drying my egg shells actually using this method to put into soil, but will also try it in my smoothy. I’ve heard that egg shell membrane is supposed to be good for joints…

I’m picky about the texture of my food and hate it when I accidentally lose even a tiny piece of shell in an omelet or scramble. Something about the particular tooth-grating crunch of eggshell…shudder. I just looked up vegan sources of calcium and have to say, I’d rather eat any and all of the things on there first! http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/calcium.php

Brilliant, clever.

livetolist Salmonella has been found in many chickens here in the states. It doesn’t usually make them sick, but they are carriers, and shed the germs in their droppings, and also will pass the bacteria into the egg -not just on the shells. I have no idea how you can be sure that any raw eggs you obtain here have NOT been contaminated, though at places like Glaum Egg Ranch chances are better, with lots of sunlight, fresh air, and no routine antibiotics. I guess in Europe (at least) they’ve required big commercial flocks to be vaccinated against salmonella and the… Read more »

Funny, I was putting raw eggs in my smoothie this morning and wondering if I was being wasteful by throwing away the shells.

Interesting. I just might try it some time.

This is so funny – re: the Paleo one-up-man-ship!  What’s incredibly interesting is the thoughts on salmonella – it’s a really US thing.  I see it on menus when I travel to the US, but in Australia and Europe, no one worries.  I only recently realised the concern in the states was due to a huge outbreak a while ago.  Anyhow, my mother always thinks you need an egg in a milkshake for better froth. Like Laurie E, I know my parents sometimes give the chickens back their shells – and they eat them, but like with human consumption, it’s… Read more »

You can dissolve the shells in lemon juice also.

What a good idea!!! I raise chickens and had never thought of using the shells for calcium for ME! If I’m ambitious, I crush and feed the eggs back to the hens. I also supplement with generous amounts oyster shells. But because the shell is mostly packaging, it seems like I’m feeding oyster shells to manufacture a natural box or jar or container for the eggs, one which is immediately discarded afterwards. Also, I was wondering if there might be significant micronutrients in some egg shells compared to calcium tablets, especially in hens that are free ranging and eating a wide variety of natural,… Read more »

Beth – Thanks for this post! It’s something I’ve always wondered about, but never researched. Useful info. One thing, I have a friend who uses a hand grain mill to grind up his eggshells into powder (something like this one: http://www.grainmaker.com/model-099/ – but I’m sure he didn’t pay that much!) and it works great.
Jay

No I’m vegan and therefore do not eat eggshells but my dog does.

Your dog is much wiser than you… ;-)
I hope you give the dog real dog food: raw meat.

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