Being famous as the “detoxifying mineral”, sulfur is a component of the bones, teeth, and proteins in the muscles, hair and skin. It is an important mineral for the digestion and absorption of fats by contributing to the production of bile acids.
Food Sources and Absorption:
Sulfur is found in foods that are rich in proteins, such as meat, fish, chicken, eggs, dairy products, and beans. It is also found in garlic, onions, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, collard greens, and kelp.
Sulfur is well absorbed from the upper part of the small intestine. An average person has about 140 grams of sulfur in the body with the highest concentrations in the skin, hairs, and nails. Sulfur – containing substances in the body are acetyl Co-A, alpha – lipoic acid (ALA), biotin, ceruloplasmin, cysteine, cystine, glutathione, insulin, heparin, metallothionein, methionine, taurine, taurocholic acid (a constituent of bile acid), vitamin B1, and vitamin B5.
Functions of Sulfur:
- Is important in protein synthesis.
- Is necessary for the formation of collagen and keratin (found in skin, hairs, and nails).
- Helps liver detoxify toxins.
- Helps liver metabolize NSAIDs (such as Advil) and acetaminophen through sulfation process.
- Is a part of glucosamine and required for cartilage repair.
- Estrogen is carried in the blood while attaching to sulfur (sulfated).
Athletic Benefits of Sulfur:
- Aids with protein synthesis.
- May help recover from overtraining syndrome by being a component of many substances in the body.
- As MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), it may reduce pain and inflammation in sports injuries.
Non – Athletic Benefits of Sulfur:
The following conditions may benefit from sulfur (as MSM):
- Liver detoxification.
- Dermatitis (used topically).
- Psoriasis (used topically).
- Acne (used topically).
- Hair and nail disorders.
Dosage and Side Effects:
No RDA has been established for sulfur. However, it is available as MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), sulfur ointment 10%, and sulfur soap. MSM is usually taken 2000 – 6000 mg daily. Ointment and soap are used for skin disorders such as acne, eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Potential side effects of MSM are diarrhea, skin rash, fatigue, and headache. It has also a mild blood – thinning effect.
- Blood – thinning medications (such as warfarin and aspirin): MSM may increase their effectiveness.
- Acetaminophen and Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as indomethacin and ibuprofen (Advil): these medications may reduce the effectiveness of MSM in repair of cartilage.