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Sulfur in Human Nutrition

Sulfur in Human Nutrition


by Lady Carla Davis, MPH

Specializing in Nutrition

Until recently, the vital element of Sulfur/Sulphur has been significantly neglected by most health gurus, researchers, and media publications.  Was this deliberate?

Sulfur/sulphur, is a nonmetallic, multivalent chemical element.  It’s atomic number is 16 and it is represented by the symbol S.  It is bright yellow in color.  On Earth, sulphur usually occurs as sulfide and sulfate minerals.

Sulfur is an essential element for all organisms and has a wide variety of functions.  In plants, it is our primary source of the essential amino acid methionine.  

A deficiency of sulphur in both plants and humans affects their growth, development, disease resistance, and performance.  It also has a great impact on the nutritional quality of crops and a person’s health.

Sulfur is the sixth most abundant macro-mineral in breast milk and the third most abundant mineral based on percentage of total body weight of an adult

(after calcium and phosphorus respectively).  Yet, it is often referred to as a trace element. 

Because  sulfur plays an essential role as a key component of elastin and collagen, which maintains the skin’s elasticity and youthful appearance, it is often referred to as the ‘beauty element.’  Sulfur is also one of the building block of keratin, which is a structural constituent of hair and nails.

Sulfur helps to support the formation of healthy connective tissues, overall joint health, mobility, and a normal range of motion.  Sulfur also helps to reduce oxidative damage in support of a healthy immune system.  In fact, compounds containing sulfur are found in all body cells, and thus, are indispensable for life. 


  • Is part of the chemical structure of the amino acids such as methionine, cystine, taurine, and compounds such as glutathione
  • Is essential in enzymes, hormones, nerve tissue, and red blood cells
  • Is needed for the synthesis of collagen
  • Forms sulfate compounds with sodium, potassium, magnesium, and selenium
  • Enables the transport of oxygen across cell membranes
  • Decreases the pressure inside the cell
  • Removes fluids and toxins
  • Eliminates toxic metals
  • Disinfects the blood
  • Regenerates, repairs, and rebuilds all the cells in the body
  • Helps battle cancer 
  • Helps the body to resists bacteria 
  • Protects the protoplasm of cells
  • Stimulates bile secretion 
  • Protects against the harmful effects of radiation, toxic chemicals, and pollution

In metabolic reactions, sulfur compounds serve as both fuels and respiratory (oxygen-replacing) materials for simple organisms.  

Sulfur is an important part of many enzymes and in antioxidant molecules like glutathione and thioredoxin.  It is also present in B vitamins biotin and thiamine, which is the Greek word for sulfur.  

Sulfur bonds are responsible for the strength and shape of proteins that help determine their biological activity.  They are crucial in human biology.

The sulfur containing amino acids (SSAs) are methionine, cysteine, cystine, homocysteine, homocystine, and taurine.  They are more abundant in animal proteins than in legumes, which can be why there is often a deficiency among vegetarians and vegans.  Organic sulfur, as SAA, can be used to increase synthesis of glutathione (GSH), taurine, S-adenosylmethione (SAMe), and N-acetyecysteine (NAC).  

MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) is a volatile component in the sulfur cycle and another source of sulfur found in a diet.  SAAs are the primary source of this vital element in the diet.  Organic MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) supplement without any fillers is also a rich source of sulfur.   MSM may be effective for the treatment of allergies, pain, athletic injuries, and bladder disorders.   It also thickens and strengthens thinning hair.  Because it is very bitter, it is best taken in capsule form.  

The therapeutic effects of MSM and DMSO, and glucosamine sulfate are explained by an increase in serum sulfate.  


Primary sulfur-containing compounds in humans are methionine, cystine, homocysteine, cystathione, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), taurine, a-keto-y-CH, thiobutyrate, methanethiol, thiamin, biotin, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), coenzyme A, glutathione (GSH), chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, fibrinogen, heparin, metallothionein, and inorganic sulfate.  Except for thiamine and biotin, all these sulfur compounds are synthesized from the sulfur containing amino acid methionine.  

Methionine is one of the main sources of sulfur in the body.  It is necessary for the synthesis of proteins as an important methyl donor.  It helps prevent fatty liver disease and eventual cirrhosis through its ability to transmethylate to form cholineMethionine can help lower acetaldehyde levels, which are toxic, after ingestion of alcohol.  According to Stephen Parcell, ND, Alternative Medicine Review, Thorne Research, reports indicate methionine’s effectiveness in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and acute pancreatitis.

Sulfur compounds such as SAMe, dimethysulfoxice (DMSO), taurine, glucosamine, or chondroitin sulfate, and reduced glutathione may have clinical applications in the treatment of conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, interstitial cystitis, athletic injuries, congestive heart failure, diabetes, cancer, and AIDS.

A Japanese study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21116101) showed that DMSO (sulfur) protected from radiation damage at all cellular levels in the whole body.  DMSO provides significant relief from pain with sore muscles, tendons, and ligaments.  It is often used on race horses for good reason. 

Sulfur is also required for the proper structure and biological activity of enzymes.  Without sufficient sulfur, enzymes can not function properly.  According to Dr. Edward Howell, author of Enzyme Nutrition, enzymes promote longevity.  


Glutathione, where sulfur and selenium connect, is the most important antioxidant in the body that protects from cancer-causing and cell damaging substances in our environment.  In fact, the immune system can not function properly without it and other antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and carotenoids (natural vitamin A) and vitamin D from sunshine.  Vitamin D reduces the risk of dying from a viral infection.  Researchers from Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York found that giving supplements of vitamin D to a group of volunteers reduced episodes of infection with colds and flu by 70% over three years.   https://drsircus.com/flu/vitamin-d-and-the-flu/ 


Numerous studies in China and the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12639222 concluded that higher a intake of various sulfur rich foods (e.g. garlic, onions, scallions/green/spring onions, leaks, chives, and allium vegetables such as broccolini), was associated with reduced risk of many types of cancer (e.g. stomach, esophagus, colon, pancreatic, breast, prostrate).  The higher (10 g per day) the amount of these sulfur rich foods, the lower the risk of cancer, by as much as 50-54%.  Perhaps, sulfur is main factor that makes the Mediterranean diet healthier and the Japanese live longer.

Garlic contains both sulfur and selenium, which are crucial for glutathione (GSH) enzyme production.  This sulfur enzyme helps keep cells normal and resistant to oxyradical mutations.  In addition, selenium, in a compound with sulfur (S-methylcystine), provides strong protection from cellular mutation and the delaying of malignancy after exposure to a carcinogen.  Garlic is Nature’s natural antibiotic without the side effects.  


Mercury is the most potent enzyme inhibitor and toxic non-radioactive element that has a great attraction to sulfhydryl groups also known as thiols.  When Hg binds to the sulfhydryl (SH) groups it inactivates the sulfur.  (This also applies to lead, uranium, fluoride, and glyphosate/RoundUp).  In turn, this blocks the transsulfuration pathways and enzyme functions, which then produce sulfur metabolites with high toxicity that are difficult for the body to handle.  

According to Russian Prof. I.M. Trachtenberg: “Thiol poisons, especially mercury and its compounds, reacting with sulfhydryls (SH) or thiols groups of proteins, lead to the lowered activity of various enzymes containing sulfhydryl groups.  This produces a series of disruptions in the functional activity of many organs and tissues of the organism.”  

Most people don’t realize that we are all inhaling mercury on a daily basis from various industries such as coal burning power plants, mining, municipal incinerators, crematoriums, the military industrial complex and war machine.  Then, there are the big chemical companies and massive factory farms, and investment funds.   In addition to this contamination many people are exposed to leaking mercury from dental amalgams and the mercury and aluminum adjuncts from vaccines.  


If the geometry of insulin has been damaged by mercury, the message that insulin has arrived to provide glucose to the cell is not received.  Toxic metals such as mercury, aluminum, lead, uranium; pesticides and herbicides such as glyphosate/RoundUp; neurotoxins and endocrine disruptors such fluoride and many plastics damage the sulfur binding process.

No other element has more of an ability to combine with other elements than sulfur.  It is present in all proteins.  Some of the other important biochemical containing compounds of the body are insulin, glutathione, prolactin, growth hormone, and vasopressin.  Except for gold and platinum all metals combine with sulfur to form inorganic sulfides.  Sulfur is crucial for detoxification, but when interfered with, it can not do its job properly. 

In New Paradigms in Diabetic Care E-Book, Dr. Mark Sircus, Ac, OMD, DM (P) 


explains that insulin’s three sulfur-containing cross-linkages and the insulin receptor that has a tyrosine-kinase-containing sulfur bond.  When toxic metals or chemicals assault and attached to any of these bonds, they interfere with the normal biological functions of the insulin molecules.  If sulfur bondings are weakened by these toxic invaders the ability to facilitate the detoxification of toxic metals, effectively enable the transport of oxygen across the cell membrane; foster healthy cell regeneration; or act as the key agent in the effective utilization of amino acids.  Methionine, cystine, cysteine, or taurine can not effectively function with out organic sulfur.  


Dr. Raul Vergini from Italy says, “Magnesium chloride has a unique healing power on acute viral and bacterial diseases.  It cured polio and diphtheria and that was the main subject of my magnesium book.  A few grams of magnesium chloride every few hours will clear nearly most acute illnesses, which can be beaten in a few hours.  I have seen a lot of flu cases healed in 24-48 hours with 3 grams of magnesium chloride taken every 6-8 hours.” The second edition of Dr. Vergini’s Transdermal Magnesium Therapy is available in hardcopy from Amazon.com.

While there are numerous transdermal Mg products out there, Elektra is a pioneer in this area.  Plus, I believe they provide the finest, most effective, purest transdermal Mg products (oil, cream, lotion, & flakes): 

http://mastersofhealthmag.com/index.php/elektramagnesium/ (Elektra Mg info)

https://www.amazon.com/elektramagnesium  (MOH Elektra shop)

In Australia go to: https://www.elektramagnesium.com.au/  

Recommended sulfur products:

At Last Naturals MSM soap with aloe vera, camomile and calendula extracts, vitamins A,C, E, and essential oils.  

At Last Naturals MSM cream moisturizer with vitamins, essential oil and herbal extracts.  (NO BPA,  animal testing, or animal by-products)  

At Last Naturals: www.AtLastNaturals.com

Dr. Best MSM with OptiMSM 1,000 mg capsules or other reputable, non-GMO brands

DMSO Roll-On with Aloe Vera, by DMSO Inc. 1 800 367-6935


Article Credit  www.NourishingBasics.com


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