You’re probably familiar with sulfur as a natural element, but did you know that organic sulfur is absolutely vital to our health? Sulfur is one of the basic building blocks of a vibrant and healthy body, essential for maintaining everything from youthful skin and joints to a healthy digestive system. Read on to find out ten ways sulfur can affect health, not just for people but all animal life.
- Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in the body and is concentrated in your muscles, skin, and bones. Sulfur makes up vital amino acids used to create protein for cells and tissues and for hormones, enzymes, and antibodies. The body uses up its store daily so it must be continually replenished for optimal health and nutrition.
- Sulfur is needed for insulin production. Insulin controls carbohydrate metabolism, but insufficient sulfur makes it harder for the pancreas to produce enough insulin and makes cells less able to absorb things from the blood, which in turn contributes to blood sugar problems.
- Sulfur detoxifies at a cellular level and relieves pain. Healthy cells can absorb adequate nutrients while releasing toxins and wastes, but sulfur affects this by helping your body build strong and breathable cell walls that properly balance cell pressure. Having enough sulfur helps your body to remove toxins that may suffocate the cells, or swell them, causing pain, allergies, stiffness, and muscle soreness.
- Sulfur builds flexible cells in the arteries and veins and creates elastic, breathable blood vessel tissues which are able to pass oxygen and nutrients through their walls, nourish the rest of the body and handle the body’s blood flow without stress.
- Sulfur has been called nature’s “beauty mineral” because it keeps your complexion clear and youthful, and hair glossy and smooth. Collagen production in your body depends on sulfur to create healthy skin and heal blemishes. For example, sulfur improves acne by healing scars, removing toxins from the skin and creating healthy new skin cells. When you have enough sulfur in your body, your skin and hair are more flexible, softer, and smoother.
- Where is organic sulfur found in nature? Where do we get organic sulfur we can use? How is it made into sulfur crystals what we can consume? From rainwater and seawater absorbed by plants. Plankton in our oceans absorb it from underwater volcanoes and then release sulfur compounds back into seawater as part of their natural cycle. This is converted to DMS, a gas sulfur compound that bubbles up into the atmosphere. Ozone and ultraviolet sunlight change the sulfur gas to DMSO and Methylsulfonylmethane, known as MSM. The rain now contains MSM which is spread over the oceans and land where it is absorbed by plants and seaweed. And voila! That is where we find our natural sulfur, and where it is harvested from for supplements.
- But we don’t eat a large diet of foods rich in organic sulfur like people used to. For most of human history, we could eat fruits and vegetables fresh from the ground and not have to give a second thought to getting this essential nutrient. But food storage, transport, processing, cooking, even washing and drying, dissipates MSM, so by our modern lifestyle we have lost access to the MSM our bodies expect. Also with air pollution and degradation of our soil and water, it has become essential to make sure we supplement our diets with bio-available sulfur to get enough for optimal health.
- MSM has an amazing anti-parasitic action. When parasites attach to someone’s intestinal lining, they can live, reproduce and leach nutrients from the body indefinitely. MSM blocks parasites by competing for receptor sites on the inside your body. When parasites can not attach themselves, they are simply flushed out of the system with the excess MSM and everything else.
- MSM has anti-allergic properties and has an ability to bind to mucous membranes and form a natural block against allergens. Another way MSM can alleviate allergies is through detoxification, elimination of free radicals, and improvement of cell permeability. It has been noted that MSM works as a safe histamine inhibitor, at least as well as the traditional antihistamines, but without the negative side effects.
- MSM and Vitamin C are a great combination to put together. Your body uses MSM along with Vitamin C to create new, healthy cells and connective tissue. MSM helps determine how flexible the bond is between the cells and an adequate supply of MSM and Vitamin C supports healthy cell regeneration. As your new cells are created, MSM is incorporated into the bonds that make up cells walls. The result is the creation of cell walls that are better able to absorb nutrients.
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is 34% sulfur, making it the richest source of bioavailable organic sulfur. MSM is safe, non-allergenic and easily digestible as food. Since naturally occurring, MSM is found in only tiny amounts in even the richest natural plant sources; you would have to eat a pound of garlic every day to get as much as is in a teaspoon of bioavailable MSM.
However, a healthy diet is one of the best ways to staying healthy, and there are many foods which are rich in sulfur. These include, but are not limited to, broccoli, sprouts, cauliflower, onions and garlic. When cooking these foods, be sure not to overheat them, as this will cause the compounds to breakdown, and therefore reduce the amount of MSM you will be consuming. It is also recommended that, once chopped, garlic, onions and shallots should be left to rest for ten minutes before cooking. This ensures that the compounds harden, and are more resistant to heat, meaning that the good things you are trying to eat are still there.
Brussels sprouts are, by far, one of the best veggies you can eat for sulfur, but they are also one of the least popular vegetables available to buy. Although the best way to eat them is by steaming them for four to five minutes, an added touch of bacon cubes and roasting it all in the oven so everything caramelizes is a sure fire way of getting even little people to eat their greens.
Sulfurous foods aren’t just contained to bitter greens, however, and it can be found in a wide range of food and drinks, including:
- Coconut milk, juice, oil
- Cruciferous veggies, including bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard leaves, radish, turnips, watercress
- Dairy (except butter)
- Dried fruits
- Legumes and dried beans
- Lime/lemon juice in bottle
- Meat and fish
- Onions (leeks, shallots, chives)
- Wine and grape juice
It is possible to have an intolerance to sulfur, which can manifest as asthma/shortness of breath, hives/itchy skin, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, flushing, high or low blood pressure, brain fog, chronic stress, and fatigue.
If you need to go on a low-sulfur diet, It’s important to keep in mind that this should be short-term, as the body does need sulfur to make many critical compounds, such as glutathione and taurine. The length of time needed to lower urine sulfites/sulfates varies and is monitored with at-home urine testing of these levels.
If you think you may be suffering from a sulfur intolerance, remember to speak to your doctor before cutting foods out of your diet. They will do this by taking a saliva and urine test. It is also important to talk to your doctor if you plan on taking supplements to up your sulfur intake, as some prescribed medications can enhance its effects and make you feel unwell.