What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the
word sulfur? If it’s rotten eggs, you are not incorrect; sulfur creates that
undeniable smell. But sulfur is so much more. You may be surprised to learn
that sulfur plays a vital role in your well-being. It has a long history of use
for healthy skin, fat metabolism, and more.
But despite its multiple roles, sulfur is often
under-recognized as an important dietary mineral. That may be because sulfur is
best known for its role in soil and plant health, rather than for its importance
in human health. Or perhaps its because sulfur’s highly related and
better-known compounds – the amino acids methionine and cysteine – provide most
of the sulfur to meet the body’s needs. However, sulfur is a major inorganic
element with biological importance due to its integration into many molecules,
including amino acids, proteins, enzymes, vitamins, and more. Following calcium
and phosphorus, sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the human body.
Two of the most critical roles sulfur plays in the body lie in the connective tissue and the liver. Sulfur helps provide strength, cushion, and moisture to connective tissue like skin, tendons, and ligaments. In the liver, sulfur has two key function – as a significant component of glutathione, the most common antioxidant made by the body, sulfur helps the body maintain balance by reacting to oxidative stress. Sulfur is also a major component of detoxification in the liver.
Diet may not provide enough.
If sulfur needs are met by consuming other amino acids, then why place so much importance on it as an individual nutrient? Sulfur is found in a variety of foods, but dietary intakes have declined due to modern agricultural processes; thereby increasing the need for supplemental sources. The majority of research regarding sulfur intake refers to sulfur-containing amino acids methionine, cysteine, and taurine as the primary dietary sources rather than sulfur itself. Glutathione provides a source of dietary sulfur and is found in fruits and vegetables. However, speculation about methionine’s ability to meet nutritional needs raises the question of whether sulfur requirements are met through diet. While most Western diets seem to be adequate in methionine, in many parts of the world, including the United States, the sulfur content of the soil is inadequate, which affects the glutathione and methionine content of the foods we eat.
Are you getting adequate sulfur?
Intake doesn’t have to be deficient to create physiological
concerns. It’s suggested that even when intake is marginally sufficient, the
sulfur is directed toward the synthesis of proteins and mother key metabolic
intermediates that have critical roles in brain and organ function, leaving
many of its other roles insufficiently supplied with sulfur.
Currently, there is no recommended dietary allowance for sulfur, but there are recommended daily intake amounts for sulfur-containing amino acids. For example, intake of methionine is recommended at 15 mg/kg of body weight. But these recommendations may underestimate actual dietary need for sulfur.
Choosing a supplement.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is naturally found in a variety
of foods like milk, fruits, tomatoes, corn, coffee, and tea. But changes in
agriculture have impacted the natural levels of sulfur in many foods, and the
amount found in foods can further decrease during processing and manufacturing.
The purest type of MSM is OptiMSMS, as it has undergone rigorous regulatory and human clinical study testing proving its safety and efficacy. OptiMSM provides the body an easily accessible pool of sulfur, sparing the essential sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine from being metabolized for their sulfur. MSM also supports antioxidant function and promotes joint health.