Can You Get Sick From Eating Eggshells?

It's dismaying to crack an egg into a bowl and see eggshell fragments ruining an otherwise perfectly round yolk nestled in a goo of transparent egg white. But beyond aesthetics, is there any danger to having eggshells cooked with food? Can accidentally eating eggshells make anyone sick?

Finding an unexpected crunch in your omelet or pastry may feel unpleasant and even unappetizing, but aside from that sensorial discomfort, ingesting eggshells is harmless. In fact, they're quite nutritious. They are made of calcium carbonate, a common form of calcium that is also found in human nails, bones, and hair. Eating just half of an eggshell can provide you with your recommended daily calcium requirement as an adult, according to a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition. Since people, in general, do not consume enough calcium from the food they eat, eggshells offer a much cheaper option than commercial dietary supplements to meet one's calcium needs. Research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry even suggests that thanks to the small amounts of protein found in eggshells, their powdered form offers 64% greater calcium absorption when eaten compared to taking pure calcium carbonate supplements.

Aside from calcium and protein, eggshells also contain trace amounts of minerals that promote bone health, such as strontium, fluoride, magnesium, and selenium. Because of these properties, their powdered form is used in dietary supplements intended for people who are at risk of osteoporosis and must build their bone density.

Reduce kitchen waste and prepare your own homemade eggshell powder

Another possible joint-health benefit from eating eggshells is increased collagen intake. According to Healthline, the thin membrane that separates the shell and the egg white is made of collagen, a primary building block that accounts for 30% of the human body's protein. Since collagen production decreases with age, many people turn to supplements, which are not reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for safety and effectiveness. Eggshell membrane offers a natural alternative: Per a 2009 study, clinical trials discovered its promise as a form of treatment for joint issues. Although more research is needed, early results have boosted the eggshell membrane-powder market to $1.4 billion in 2023 (per Future Market Insights).

So don't throw out your eggshells. Instead, reduce your kitchen waste by turning them into a homemade dietary additive. (We do recommend consulting with your doctor first before taking any form of supplement.) Just take proper precautions against possible bacterial contamination, specifically salmonella, by boiling the eggshells in water for 15 minutes before grinding them into a powder. And don't ingest large shell fragments since those can scratch and even injure your palate, throat, and esophagus. Instead, pulverize the boiled and dried shells with a blender, a rolling pin, or a mortar and pestle so they're ready to be added to your drinks, soups, and stews. Mix the powder with your breading, too, and use it as a topping for pizza and pasta.