Catching Health! The Story of Sulfur & OptiMSM

Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD, FACN, CNS, FISSN

The flying trapeze is an amazing gravity-defying act of coordination between the flyer, the catcher, and the net. While each artist must hone their skill and know their choreography, the timing of the act from beginning to end must be exact. The net is not only for safety but is a third integral player in the acrobatic performance. The entire spectacle is an interaction between mass, energy, movement, and time, leading to an elegant climax of the clasping of hands, creating a new and beautiful display: the ultimate catch!

This is how I envision the action of the compound methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), and its primary mineral, sulfur, in the sophisticated biochemistry of the human body. Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral. It “clasps hands” with molecules that are incorporated into many life-giving compounds such as amino acids, proteins, collagen, enzymes, vitamins, antioxidants, and more. The sulfur connection allows the creation of these essential compounds and their functions without which life would not exist as we know it. MSM is a volatile compound within the sulfur cycle and acts as a sulfur-delivery vehicle, much like the hand-off of the flyer to the catcher is the core component of the aerial maneuver. MSM itself is also a vital component working to boost physiological processes, as the net catapults the flyer to enhance the aerial artistry on display.

Roles of Sulfur & MSM

Sulfur is well-recognized for its roles in supporting healthy skin, including appearance, acne, and wound healing.1 At a molecular level sulfur-dependent bonds, called disulfide bonds, create the critical structure and elasticity of the proteins collagen and elastin, allowing for skin’s uniquely strong yet flexible characteristics.2 Working within the skin, sulfur is an integral part of the antioxidant and detoxification processes necessary to protect and maintain proper skin growth.3

Disulfide bonds “clasp hands” again by cross-linking to create the matrix proteins hyaluronic acids and glycosaminoglycans. These two sulfur-rich protein groups form the connective tissues that contribute strength and cushion for tendons and ligaments.4,5

Similar to the catcher catching the flyer, in the liver, sulfur is essential to the magnificent anti-aging catch of free radicals by glutathione, the most prevalent antioxidant in the human body. As part of natural detoxification in the liver, sulfur is crucial to the metabolism and excretion of harmful substances.3,6

MSM has been shown to benefit joint health,7–11 improve skin quality,12 suppress seasonal allergic rhinitis,13,14 and reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress and muscle damage in humans.15,16 MSM boosts the activity of these sulfur-dependent health-promoting reactions just like the net boosts the flyer back to the catcher or the trapeze bar. Without the net the trick is at best uninteresting and perhaps never completed. Without MSM, the reaction chugs along, never with the speed or energy delivered by the MSM super-charge.

Sulfur in Your Diet

Donating sulfur is a primary role of MSM. While our body contains sulfur-containing amino acids (SAAs) such as methionine, cysteine, and others that can donate sulfur to biochemical reactions, these amino acids have essential functions themselves in their intact state. If dietary sulfur intake is low, SAA production in the body is reduced, and stripping sulfur from SAA’s to use elsewhere leaves us at limited functional capacity.

OptiMSM provides the body an easily accessible pool of sulfur, which spares the essential sulfur-containing amino acids (SAAs) methionine and cysteine from being metabolized for their sulfur. It’s role as a sulfur donor, and its ability to preserve SAAs explains the broad range of health benefits with MSM supplementation. A recent study proved rapid absorption of OptiMSM and incorporation into tissue proteins.17

OptiMSM is the only branded and US-manufactured form of dietary MSM, Bergstrom Nutrition, the producer of OptiMSM, continually invests in human research on their product to support claims and advance the body of science. The purity, consistency, and safety of OptiMSM are unmatched.

For the athletes in a trapeze act, having a strong and healthy team is required to fly through the air with the greatest of ease. By assuring optimal sulfur intake through your food choices and supplementing with OptiMSM, you too can fly easier and support antioxidant function, inflammatory responses, joint health, and even help decrease muscle soreness in response to exercise. The trapeze works with physics to defy gravity as OptiMSM works with your body to help defy aging. That’s a pretty good catch!



1. Gupta AK, Nicol K. The use of sulfur in dermatology. J Drugs Dermatol. 2004;3(4):427-431. Accessed July 3, 20192. Komarnisky LA, Christopherson RJ, Basu TK. Sulfur: its clinical and toxicologic aspects. Nutrition. 2003;19(1):54-61. doi:10.1016/S0899-9007(02)00833-X

3. Palego L, Betti L, Giannaccini G. Sulfur Metabolism and Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids: I- Molecular Effectors. Biochem Pharmacol. 2015;04(01):1-8. doi:10.4172/2167-0501.1000158

4. Nimni ME, Han B, Cordoba F. Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet? Nutr Metab (Lond). 2007;4:24. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-4-24

5. Rizzo R, Grandolfo M, Godeas C, Jones KW, Vittur F. Calcium, sulfur, and zinc distribution in normal and arthritic articular equine cartilage: A synchrotron radiation-induced X-ray emission (SRIXE) study. J Exp Zool. 1995;273(1):82-86. doi:10.1002/jez.1402730111

6. van de Poll MCG, Dejong CHC, Soeters PB. Adequate Range for Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids and Biomarkers for Their Excess: Lessons from Enteral and Parenteral Nutrition. J Nutr. 2018;136(6):1694S-1700S. doi:10.1093/jn/136.6.1694s

7. Usha PR, Naidu MUR. Placebo-Controlled Study of Oral Glucosamine , Methylsulfonylmethane and their Combination in Osteoarthritis. Clin Drug Invest. 2004;24(6):353-363.

8. Kim, LS; Axelrod, LJ; Howard, P; Buratovich N. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) in osteoarthritis pain of the knee: a pilot clinical trial. Osteoarthr Cartil. 2006;14:286-294.

9. Debbi EM, Agar G, Fichman G, et al. Efficacy of methylsulfonylmethane supplementation on osteoarthritis of the knee: a randomized controlled study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2011;11(1):50. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-11-50

10. Pagonis TA, Givissis PA, Kritis AC, Christodoulou AC. The Effect of Methylsulfonylmethane on Osteoarthritic Large Joints and Mobility. Int J Orthop. 2014;1(1):19-24. doi:10.6051/j.issn.2311-5106.2014.01.7

11. Lubis AMT, Siagian C, Wonggokusuma E, Marsetyo AF, Setyohadi B. Comparison of Glucosamine-Chondroitin Sulfate with and without Methylsulfonylmethane in Grade I-II Knee Osteoarthritis: A Double Blind Randomized Controlled Trial. Acta Med Indones.2017;49(2):105-111.

12. Anthonavage M, Benjamin R, Withee E. Effects of oral supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on skin health and wrinkle reduction. Nat Med J. 2015;7(11):1-21. skin-health-and-wrinkle-reduction.

13. Barrager E, Veltmann JR, Schauss AG, Schiller RN. A multicentered, open-label trial on the safety and efficacy of methylsulfonyl methane in the treatment of seasonal allergic rhinitis. J Altern Complement Med. 2002;8(2):167-173. doi:10.1089/107555302317371451

14. Hewlings S, Kalman DS. Evaluating the Impacts of Methylsulfonylmethane on Allergic Rhinitis After a Standard Allergen Challenge: Randomized Double-Blind Exploratory Study. JMIR Res Protoc. 2018;7(11):e11139. doi:10.2196/11139

15. Parcell S. Sulfur in human nutrition and applications in medicine. Altern Med Rev. 2002;7(1):22-44.

16. Nakhostin-Roohi B, Barmaki S, Khoshkhahesh F, Bohlooli S. Effect of chronic supplementation with methylsulfonylmethane on oxidative stress following acute exercise in untrained healthy men. J Phar Pharmacol. 2011;63(10):1290-1294. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01314.x

17. Wong T, Bloomer R, Benjamin R, Buddington R. Small Intestinal Absorption of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) and Accumulation of the Sulfur Moiety in Selected Tissues of Mice. Nutrients. 2017;10(1):19. doi:10.3390/nu10010019