Sulfur and Your Health. Week 94 Tip

By: Carla Meine CFNC

| October 14, 2023

Welcome to More Than Healthy as we continue to share our weekly health tips. This is Tip #94, the health benefits of the right amount of sulfur. To watch our weekly Video Tip, click this link. To listen to the audio podcast, click on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

Sulfur is a funny mineral to discuss with my clients if it shows up as a deficiency in their hair analysis. Surprisedly, they look at me and say, “I’m supposed to eat sulfur?” They mostly think of sulfur as that stinky smell at hot springs. Most people are surprised to learn that sulfur is a really important mineral—and that getting the right amount of it is important to our health.

What is sulfur?

So, besides that stinky-egg smell at hot springs, what is sulfur? Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral in your body. It is present in all cells and extracellular compartments as part of the amino acids methionine and cysteine, which are used to make proteins.  

These amino acids are present in your skin, hair, and nails and help make these tissues strong and flexible. We’ve discussed amino acids; for more information, check out our posts on glutamine, glutathione, tryptophan, and leucine

What does sulfur do for your body?

The body uses sulfur to build and fix your DNA. It helps protect cells from damage that can lead to serious diseases like cancer. 

Sulfur also helps the body to metabolize food and contributes to the health of your tendons and ligaments. 

Sulfur’s role in the body’s ecosystem

Sulfur is a component of other important things the body needs, such as amino acids, certain vitamins, and insulin. It is present in B-1 and biotin, which we’ll discuss in future posts, and glutathione, which we covered in Tip #73

It’s interesting how most necessary vitamins and minerals can’t stand alone. They are all part of an extremely precise ecosystem that functions perfectly when it has everything it needs.

When part of this system is out of balance, with either too much or too little of something, it can cause serious consequences. Sulfur is no exception. 

What happens if you have too much sulfur?

We always discuss the importance of getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals because getting too much usually has nasty side effects, too. Sulfur is no exception.

If your body has too much sulfur, you may experience intestinal problems, including diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, or ulcerative colitis. This happens when bacteria in the intestines convert excess sulfates to hydrogen sulfide gas, which can be very serious.  

What if you don’t have enough sulfur?

If you don’t have enough sulfur, you won’t support those important amino acids that help develop bones, muscles, ligaments, and cartilage.

A sulfur deficiency can lead to several health disorders, including:

  • Acne
  • Arthritis
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Convulsions
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Itchy skin or scalp
  • Migraine headaches
  • Memory loss
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Rashes
  • Slow wound healing

Why is getting vitamins and minerals through foods so important?

This delicate balance of “not too much, not too little” is why we always say the best way to get your vitamins and minerals is through your foods. One of the most important things we’ve learned on this health journey is that eating various healthy foods is the best approach.  

It’s not always easy, but it makes a real difference. Suppose you can eat a wide variety of organic fruits and vegetables each week and good quality proteins (pasture-raised chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef, and wild-caught seafood and fish) cooked in good oils. In that case, you will have the best chance to populate your gut with the best bacteria that support a healthy immune system.

I’ve seen it over and over with my clients. They love certain foods and eat them every day, only to discover that they aren’t getting the wide variety of nutrients they need to maintain that important balance.  

How can you get more variety of vitamins and minerals through your food?

There are lots of ways to “expand your horizons” when it comes to healthy eating. One of the best ways to incorporate lots of vegetables into our diet is through the different soups I make each week. I try to make two different soups with lots of different vegetables, and then we have a bowl each day with one of our meals. 

Here are a couple of our favorite recipes: Sweet Potato Soup, Cauliflower Leek Soup, and Cream of Mushroom Soup. The Gut Healthy Recipes repository, available for free on our website, has many more recipes.

Additionally, I make a homemade yogurt that we have each morning with different berries, nuts, and seeds. The L reuteri yogurt is so good for your gut (read all about that here), and the toppings are full of healthy fats and antioxidants.

Another good way to add vitamins and minerals to your diet is to make a big salad daily and include different types of greens and a wide variety of vegetables. Top it with good olive oil and red wine vinegar, and you have a terrific way to introduce a good variety of bacteria to your gut. A few of our favorite recipes are Broccoli Salad, Supergreen Salad with Chicken, and Avocado Pomegranate Salad

If you’d like more ideas on yummy soups and salads, go to our website and click on the “Resources” link in the menu bar. Select “Gut Healthy Recipes” from the drop-down. Search soups and salads, and they will all come up. There are lots of yummy possibilities!

What are the best sources of sulfur?

If you find you’re deficient in sulfur, the foods that have the highest amount of sulfur include: 

  • Broccoli 
  • Cauliflower 
  • Cabbage 
  • Arugula 
  • Kale 
  • Radishes 
  • All leafy greens 
  • Onions 
  • Leeks 
  • Scallions 
  • Shallots 
  • Garlic  

 

If you’re including a healthy soup and salad in your meal plan daily, you won’t have to think about it. You’ll get plenty of healthy sulfur and lots of vitamins and minerals by default – through the foods you eat. 

Can you take a sulfur supplement?

If you struggle to get a wide variety of these foods in your diet, you can supplement. But not all supplements are equal, and we always recommend that you make sure they come from good sources.  

We like Optimal Health Supplements (OHS) because they use whole foods for all their supplements. They have a product called Optimal Fruit and Veggie Plus, a powdered drink with many fruits and vegetables. You just put in a glass of water, stir, and drink. It’s a great option with our busy lifestyles to get the foods we need if we don’t have time to make them.

Want to become More Than Healthy?

Do you have any questions about sulfur or any other health topics? We love hearing from you!  

We’d love to become your health coaches as you work to become “more than healthy” and achieve optimal health. Thanks for joining us, and we’ll see you next week.

 

Note: Remember, we’re not doctors. We’re sharing what’s worked for us on our health journey. You will want to consult your doctor before significantly changing your diet and supplementation.

 

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