Traditional diets naturally contained a lot of sulphur. Plants and vegetables (and then even the animals eating the plants) absorbed a lot of sulphur naturally. Today’s modern intensive (big-agra) farming techniques have depleted the soils of many vital nutrients. Sulphur is key among them. SO, the vast majority of people in modern, mainstream cultures are getting little to no sulphur in their diets.
Sadly, regulatory bodies don’t even consider sulphur important enough to have it listed as an essential ingredient in foods. They don’t even list a basic recommended daily requirement. The majority of nutrition-oriented information available dismisses it in a “don’t worry about it” kind of manner. How could “experts” get it so wrong???
Sulphur is the 6th most abundant mineral on the planet. And it is the THIRD most abundant mineral in the human body. It is almost as abundant as calcium- which everyone knows about and tries to hard to include in their diets. It is almost as abundant as phospourous, which most people are at least familiar with– even if we don’t work so hard to get it into our diets. THAT one, isn’t as depleted in the byproduct of intensive-farming.
So what exactly does sulphur DO in the body?
Sulfur is absorbed from the small intestine primarily as the four sulfur-containing amino acids or from sulfates in water or fruits and vegetables . SO, this also brings up the important aspect of repairing the GUT.. because if the GUT isn’t working properly, it cannot absorb and utilise the nutrients it is getting. Including Sulphur. But- sulphur is also a healing nutrient. We even take sulpha drugs. SO, maybe having more sulphur in the diet will begin to help the body to repair itself in a whole lot of ways… In fact, sulphur actually HELPS to detox the body!!! so maybe the LACK of sulphur is contributing to the buildup of toxins that are causing problems?
helps cells utilise oxygen- which also helps improve brain function
as well as ALL cell activity. But it is important to note that
cysteine is also needed for this to happen. One reason it is
important to note this, is to help emphasize that EVERYTHING in the
body, works with OTHER things. It is a vast network of relationships
and mutual benefits. But back to the sulphur – this will also help
the liver to produce bile, which allows the liver to help get rid of
Sulphur is mostly in skin, bones and muscles… so it’s no wonder that if we don’t get enough of it, especially as we age.. that we feel the effects..it is an essential component of the connective tissue, the fluid in the joints! SO stiff muscles and joints? Adding sulphur to the diet can help alleviate issues with arthritis and sore achy muscles. And it has aesthetic value as well… wrinkles in the skin. Yes- sulphur plays a role in the skin- which includes elasticity and health of the skin! SO, if you want to keep looking young and healthy– doesn’t adding more sulphur to the diet make sense?
among the many other things sulphur does, it does 2 things that are
of benefit for overall health. Firstly, sulphur helps vitamin B which
converts Carbohydrates into energy. And it also supports the job of
Cholesterol needs sulphur, to become cholesterol-sulphate. This compound is used by muscle cells and fat cells. Without it, they will have a hard time using glucose for fuel. So the fat and muscle cells start to stockpile the fat… for its own potential use. Muscles cannot burn glucose… so this is practical and logical to the fat cell. But as the fat cell becomes damaged, it cannot release the stored fat, and it just accumulates in the body.
(Helpful aside- maybe sulphur will help with easier weight-loss:)
Sulphur also increases circulation in the brain. This could be a huge benefit for anyone struggling with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. Increased blood circulation means more nutrients can get IN.. it also means that there is more FUEL for the brain to utilise. Just like a car.. when you know you are low on gas, and low on cash– you do less driving. And just like with gas prices today– the Alzheimer brain “learns” that fuel is a precious commodity.. Just like we learn how to conserve gas-fuel, and be more economical about how much extra-driving we do, the Alzheimer brain is conserving what little fuel it is getting, and CAN use.. for the most important tasks, and the ones that require the lease amount of energy.
(Helpful aside for caregivers etc.. sulphur can also help with headaches. The improved circulation can result in less pressure/ pain/headaches:)
SO- how to get enough sulphur into the body?
“Experts” estimate that the body needs about 850 mg daily. And I use the quotes because very simply put.. No one KNOWS, really. No one has really studied sulphur enough to be able to say, with any real confidence.. “this” is how much the body needs to function optimally. And this is even more true for the compromised body. If someone is anemic, for example, they need to take more than the minimum daily requirement in order to bring their levels BACK to a range that the body needs. Under some health conditions, doses of 1500 mg are suggested… Essentially, as with any new addition to the diet- start smaller and build levels up. This is especially true with nutrients that support detoxing– as the detox effect can make someone feel ill, if it is done faster than the body can handle!
About 10% of our sulphur normally comes from our drinking water. So this is an easy way to get some of the needed sulphur into your diet. Unless you have “soft water,” such as city-water, or water that comes from rain run-off.. Hard water, such as well water, or water that has not been “softened”… is naturally rich in minerals, and contains sulphur.
So what FOODS can help you get enough sulphur?
Getting enough sulphur in the diet, has been worsened by the wrongful vilification of EGGs- which naturally possess high amounts of very bio-available sulphur. And yet, we may be wrongly worried about eggs and their potential connection to cholesterol (which we do need in the body, and is the subject of another article)… As a result, people have been eating less eggs.
those who are truly worried about eggs and their cholesterol levels-
it might be helpful to know that the egg WHITE actually possesses
higher levels of sulphur than the yolk (which seems to be the villain
in the cholesterol wars)… So, you could include healthy free range
organic or local egg-whites in the diet, and be getting some of that
crucial sulphur added to the diet. Or you can skip the egg-yolk, and
just use the egg-whites. One egg contains between 150-200
milligrams of sulphur (depending on how it is raised and how it is
Other foods and vegetables are naturally rich in sulphur as well. Free range beef and chicken, as well as cold water fish. The problem there, is to make sure the animals were well raised, otherwise they may not be rich in sulphur, and they MAY be high in damaging toxins, like aluminum and mercury- which is already causing so much harm to the damaged Alzheimer brain.
Seafood is naturally very high in sulphur- ranging from 200 mg for fish like cod, salmon and haddock, up to 500 and more for lobster and crab. Again- be cautious of toxins and know where and how seafood came from. This is especially true post-Fukushima!
The best way to make sure you’re getting healthy rich sources of sulphur, may be locally and organically grown vegetables. Vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, legumes, garlic, onions, asparagus and kale are rich in sulphur.
such as Almonds ,chicken , beef,cheddar cheese are just a few
more examples of ways to get daily sulphur added to the diet.
So there are a lot of pretty easy ways to get enough sulphur into the body. It just takes an awareness of the importance. And, if getting enough sulphur into the body is still an issue, then you can help that by taking baths in epsom salts once or twice a week. Yep! Epsom salt will bring the sulphur into the body right through the skin. And if that is not an option, there are sulphur supplements. MSM- provided it comes from a good, high quality source, is a very common and well-known supplement for joint pain/arthritis.
With all the benefits, and very few side effects (the smell of sulphur:)… Why not make this an essential part of your nutritional planning?
Next up: sulphur and the brain, specifically Alzheimer/dementia issues. .. there was just too much information to include all in one article… so stay tuned for the good stuff to come!
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Teri is the author of Holistic and Practical Support for Alzheimer's & Caregivers. She is also a practising herbalist and holistic coach. She specialities in Holistic Alzheimer coaching and group training. She uses a wide range of skills and information to support people in creating happier, fuller, healthier lives. She is also life-long equestrian, with rehab racehorses and a small farm of dairy goats.