Imagine a nutrient that gives you more health value and benefits than zinc, magnesium, sodium, copper, iron, iodine and for that matter, other vitamins. Assume that this nutrient possesses incredibly diverse roles — aiding in the regulation of blood sugar, enhancing your body’s resistance to disease, preventing pain and body aches as well as keeping hold of your organs and skin firmly together. It is a nutrient so valuable that you would probably not survive life without it. If you are thinking that this miracle nutrient does not exist, think again.
This “miracle” nutrient is actually sulphur, a yellow mineral referred to as brimstone in the Bible and has been utilised as a form of medicine since the ancient times. In fact, in Roman times, sulphurous Baths of Agamemnon often provided potent healing for wounded soldiers.
Found in Every Living Cell
The dearth of research on nutritional sulphur is puzzling — sulphur exists and is found in every living cell but because sulphur is an element, the body cannot make or produce it and, as such, must obtain sulphur from food sources instead.
Sulphur is part of the molecules that form the amino acids methionine, cysteine and taurine. It is a constituent of biotin and vitamin B1, the anticoagulant heparin, the antioxidant glutathione and coenzyme A, which generates energy production in cells. Sulphur is an integral part of the biological cement that promotes beautiful skin and form hair, nails as well as the cartilage that shapes your nose and pad your joints. Yet, to date, there is no officially recognised “sulphur-deficiency syndrome”. Coincidentally, this was the same exact problem with other nutrients, such as vitamin E and selenium, which had to suffer from anonymity for years before they were given proper recognition as being essential nutrients for health.
Are you consuming enough sulphur from your daily diet? Many dieticians say that people obtain adequate sulphur as long as they eat methionine-rich meat. However, other foods also provide large amounts of sulphur, including kale, radishes, watercress, leeks, brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, cauliflower, garlic and egg yolks. Unfortunately, many people dislike these foods or simply choose to, avoid them.
Some of the most popular and beneficial dietary supplements on the market contain wealthy amounts of sulphur. A wide range of sulphur-containing molecules in your diet provides a biochemical “toolbox” that the body can rely on. Today, we take a closer look at the most sulphur-rich supplements. While you certainly do not need to take them all, consuming one or two daily can guard against deficiency and they each offer additional and different health benefits.
1. Alpha Lipoic Acid
A vitamin-like substance found in foods, such as beef and spinach, and produced by the body, alpha lipoic acid plays key roles in energy production in the body. It is part of a process that breaks down glucose (blood sugar) and burns it for energy. Studies have found that alpha lipoic acid can lower and stabilise glucose in diabetics by as much as 30%. A typical dosage for alpha lipoic acid would be in the range of between 50 and 300 mg daily.
2. Chondroitin and Glucosamine Sulphate
Both chondroitin and glucosamine sulphate help to form cartilage tissue, particularly in the pads that cushion joints. Thin or absent joint cartilage results in osteoarthritis, in which bones grind against each other. It is recommended that you take at least 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin daily to prevent future joint issues.
Sitting on your kitchen top counter, garlic has little biological activity. But dicing and cooking it triggers a cascade of chemical reactions (starting with oxidation) that leads to more than 100 sulphur-rich chemical compounds, including some sulphur-containing amino acids. Garlic boosts antioxidant levels in the body and has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels in certain individuals. Start incorporating garlic into your daily diet by adding it liberally to your food, or if you prefer it in the supplement form, take at least 500 to 2,000 mg daily.
Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant made by the human body. Unsurprisingly, low blood levels of glutathione are associated with heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. In addition, glutathione also helps the liver to break down toxic chemicals, whether they are absorbed from the environment or produced by the body. Take 75 to 150 mg of glutathione daily.
5. Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Although scientific research on MSM is limited, close to 55,000 studies have been published on the closely related dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). A group of researchers from the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland have found MSM to be very effective in reducing muscle and joint pain, interstitial cystitis (a type of very painful bladder inflammation) and ease symptoms of scleroderma (a chronic degenerative disease that scars skin, joints and connective tissue). MSM is available in supplement form and its ideal dosage falls between the range of 1,000 and 2,000 mg daily.
N-acetylcysteine, or NAC, has been shown to reduce the occurrence of flu symptoms and extend life expectancy of AIDS patients. Preliminary research also suggests that it may be helpful in preventing cancer. Take 500 to 2,000 mg of NAC daily to boost your immune system.