What’s in sulfur

Sulfur is a mineral that has been known since ancient times. It plays a role in protein metabolism and detoxification; however, an excess in the body can cause problems. The substance is contained in many protein-rich foods. You can find out here which foods contain sulfur and what role it plays in our health.

sulfur in the body

Sulfur has various functions in the human body: It is contained in  amino acids  from which the body’s own proteins are made. Sulfur-containing amino acids are important for healthy tendons, bones, cartilage and muscles. In addition, sulfur is an important component of connective tissue.

Hair and nails are particularly rich in sulphur.

Sulfur detoxifies

Sulfur is also found in several substances in the human body: for example in heparin – which inhibits blood clotting –   and in coenzyme A, which is essential for energy production in the cells. In addition, sulfur is a component of insulin.

In addition, the salts of sulfuric acids (sulphates) play a role in detoxification – harmful substances such as alcohol are bound to them and excreted with the urine.

How much sulfur do we need?

Sulfur is one of the so-called bulk elements, i.e. the minerals of which humans (in contrast to the trace elements) need more than 50 milligrams per day. It cannot be produced by the body itself. The amount of sulfur in the body is 40 times higher than the amount of  iron . This shows how important adequate amounts of sulfur are for health.

However, since sulfur is normally ingested in sufficient quantities through food, there is no information on a recommended daily intake. 

Supply of sulfur through food

Sulfur is found in most protein foods because two common amino acids (cystine, methionine) contain sulfur. Among other things, it is found in the following foods:

  • cheese ( parmesan )
  • To scratch
  • Matjeshering
  • Roast chicken
  • roast pork
  • chicken egg
  • Roasted Peanuts

Are deficiency symptoms possible?

Sulfur is present in virtually every food, so deficiency symptoms are not to be expected in adults with a sensible diet. Sulfur supplements are therefore not necessary.

Sulfur overdose

An excess of sulfur can occur when large amounts of foods containing sulfur or foods preserved with sulfur compounds are eaten. This can inhibit the activity of some enzymes.

However, some people react to even small amounts of sulfur dioxide with headaches, but also  nausea , a feeling of fullness or  diarrhea . Also intolerances or allergic reactions up to asthma attacks can occur.

Special about sulfur

Sulfur dioxide destroys vitamin B1 and  biotin . If it is ingested at the same time as the trace element molybdenum (especially in offal, grain), these two substances form insoluble compounds with copper – with the possible result of a copper deficiency.

Sulfur compounds were used to preserve food as early as the late Middle Ages. Even today, sulfur dioxide (sulphurous acid, E 220) and its salts, the sulfites (E 221-228), are used as antioxidants and preservatives – for example in dried fruit, wine, fruit juices or potato dishes.

Sulfur has long been known for its healing properties. It is mainly used as an additive in baths or preparations for external use in skin diseases such as psoriasis and joint problems. In naturopathy, sulphur-containing amino acids are used to form complexes with heavy metals and thus detoxify the body.

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