Sulfur: The Crucial Nutrient You May Be Lacking

Sulfur - The Crucial Nutrient You May Be Lacking

By Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize winning researcher, believed that all modern disease can be traced to nutritional mineral deficiencies. With our soils depleted of these valuable nutrients through conventional farming and the lavish use of chemical fertilizers over the last sixty years, is it any wonder that the rate of disease has exploded?

Since 1954, we’ve seen a 4,000% increase of serious ailments in the United States. This just happens to be the same year chemical fertilizers were mandated by the government. Patrick McGean, director of the Cellular Matrix Study, suspects that the use of fertilizers have broken the sulfur cycle in the soil and “… appears to have contributed to the decline of our health, wealth, mental acuity, and quality of life.”

The important role of sulfur in human health

One of the crucial biological mechanisms of sulfur is that it facilitates the transport of oxygen across cell membranes. If we don’t have adequate sulfur in the diet — which is a very real possibility considering the state of our soil — healthy cellular regeneration is put at risk. This can lead to a host of disorders like cancer, inability to handle physical and psychological stress, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and more.

Sulfur is essential for the health of the muscles, skin and bones as well. Many times, people who have issues with connective tissue supplement with an organic version of sulfur: methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), which helps to fortify the sulfur bonds of the flexible tissues in the body. But this is just the tip of the iceberg concerning the benefits of the mineral. According to Dr. Joseph Mercola, sulfur is also vital for the following:

  • Reducing chronic pain
  • Preventing cancer
  • Improving uptake of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, amino acids, selenium, calcium, magnesium and coenzyme Q10
  • Diminishing muscle cramping and pain
  • Detoxification
  • Alleviating allergies
  • Impeding parasitic infection — including giardia, trichomonas, roundworms and nematodes
  • Strengthening lung function
  • Preventing neurological disease by supporting cell membrane elasticity and permeability, while repairing oxidative damage
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Encouraging healthy insulin function
  • Increasing endurance and strength

Moreover, NaturoDoc reports that organic sulfur is beneficial for healing osteoarthritis, skin conditions (acne, psoriasis, rosacea, liver spots and wrinkles), gastrointestinal disorders (GERD, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut and chronic constipation), Hepatitis C, migraines and headaches, ADHD, hyperactivity, glaucoma and gum disease.

A study presented in Nutrition & Metabolism looked at metabolic pathways to determine which were affected by sulfur:

“Sulfur amino acids contribute substantially to the maintenance and integrity of the cellular systems by influencing cellular redox state and the capacity to detoxify toxic compounds, free radicals and reactive oxygen species.

“… Sulfur containing metabolites, of which glutathione is a key exponent, merge in their functioning with many other compounds that play a major role in mechanisms which are receiving tremendous interests as parts of conventional and complementary medical care. These include the n-3 and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, minerals such as Selenium, Zinc, Copper and Magnesium, vitamins E and C, antioxidants such as the proanthocyanidins and lipoic acid, many of which are involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins and in the antioxidant cascade.

“More and more evidence is accumulating and focusing on the cooperative role that glutathione and other sulfur metabolites play in the homeostatic control of these fundamental mechanisms.”

Additionally, Dr. Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at MIT, is convinced that poor sulfur stores are also directly linked to obesity and heart disease.

Volcanic soil, sulfur and you

Where your food is grown plays a major role in the incidence of sulfur deficiency and the subsequent development of disease. Dr. Seneff explains in the article “Could Sulfur Deficiency be a Contributing Factor in Obesity, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?”:

“The ultimate source of sulfur is volcanic rock, mainly basalt, spewed up from the earth’s core during volcanic eruptions. It is generally believed that humans first evolved from a common ape ancestor in the African rift zone, a region that would have enjoyed an abundance of sulfur due to the heavy volcanic activity there. The three principle suppliers of sulfur to the Western nations are Greece, Italy and Japan. These three countries also enjoy low rates of heart disease and obesity and increased longevity. In South America, a line of volcanoes tracks the backbone of Argentina. Argentinians have a much lower obesity rate than their neighbors to the east in Brazil. In the United States, Oregon and Hawaii, two states with significant volcanic activity, have among the lowest obesity rates in the country.”

Iceland is another example of low disease rates across its population. Icelanders enjoy a high life expectancy and have little incidence of obesity, diabetes, seasonal affective disorder and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Seneff feels that the key to their good health “… lies in the string of volcanoes that make up the backbone of the island, which sits atop the mid-Atlantic ridge crest.”

In the late 1800’s, sizable volcanic eruptions covered the agricultural areas of the southeast region, which enriched the soil with sulfur. In short, “[t]he cabbage, beets, and potatoes that are staples of the Icelandic diet are likely providing far more sulfur to Icelanders than their counterparts in the American diet provide,” theorizes Dr. Seneff.

How to increase the body’s sulfur stores

To ensure we are getting enough of this vital mineral, we can focus on certain foods that naturally contain sulfur. An organic diet is the a good place to start since the soil tends to be nutrient rich and balanced. Legumes, garlic, onions, brussel sprouts, asparagus, kale and wheat germ are excellent sources of the mineral, as are raw vegetables and fruits — especially if consumed shortly after harvest — as well as pastured eggs and meat.

Cooking destroys sulfur, so to increase dietary sulfur levels, it’s best to enjoy produce in its raw state.

Alternatively, we can take a methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) dietary supplement. Superfood expert David Wolfe recommends taking 2,500 mg/day initially, and slowing increasing the supplement amount to 5,000 to 7,500 mg/day. MSM can cause the body to initiate detoxification, so buildup the dosage gradually. Also, use MSM supplements with care if you are allergic to sulfa drugs. Otherwise, the mineral is exceptionally non-toxic.

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About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at or visit


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