Sulfur – The Forgotten Immuno-Nutrient?

When most people hear about sulfur, they likely relate it to its important role in soil and plant health. However, sulfur is a critical dietary nutrient and is quickly gaining recognition for the essential functions it plays in overall human health. Long-standing beliefs that the foods we eat supply adequate sulfur are currently being questioned by doctors and scientific researchers. New dietary requirements are under consideration, and quality supplemental sources of sulfur are highly valued.

Historically, sulfur has been relatively abundant in the food supply, but modern agricultural practices have compromised the amount that turns up in our food by depleting soils and other environments of sulfur. These agricultural procedures, combined with food processing practices, strip the plentiful amounts of sulfur traditionally found in a variety of foods. Therefore, we’re getting less sulfur than we think.

How Sulfur-Deficient Diets Compromise Immune Systems

While additional research is needed to fully understand the many complex roles sulfur plays in the immune system, its definitive roles as an anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory agent are well-recognized. Because the body prioritizes the sulfur required for critical brain and organ function, even marginally insufficient sulfur intake can dramatically impact other vital sulfur-requiring tasks like immune function and toxin removal.

Sulfur has several roles in the immune system, which complement other immune-supporting vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. These nutrients work in tandem with sulfur to provide a fully functional immune system. In addition to sulfur, the following nutrients are all important for immune health: vitamins: A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper; and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Inadequate intake of any of these nutrients can lead to decreased resistance to infections and increased disease burden to both the individual and the community.

How to Consume Adequate Amounts of Sulfur

It is always best to start by eating a whole foods diet that minimizes the amount of processing between the farm and your table and to choose foods high in sulfur-containing amino acids. But due to depleted levels of sulfur in the food system as a whole, it is also helpful to round out a healthy diet through supplementation. Since determining sulfur needs can be challenging, the easiest way to ensure you are getting enough sulfur is to focus on sulfur-rich supplements like methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). MSM is an ideal source since the nutritional supplement contains a high level of sulfur, 34% to be exact, and research on US-Made OptiMSM® has proven its sulfur contribution.

Why Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)?

The natural environmental and emotional stressors of today’s society test the human body daily, with immune systems heavily taxed during these stressful times. Stress can trigger an acute response by the innate immune system and an ensuing adaptive immune response if the stressor is pathogenic. When this happens, sulfur-containing compounds like MSM can play a critical role in supporting the immune response.

Not only has data powerfully demonstrated MSM as a potent anti-oxidant and natural anti-inflammatory nutrient, but MSM also impacts oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby modulating the immune response through crosstalk between oxidative stress and inflammation during stressful times.

That’s why getting enough MSM is not only crucial for supporting healthy sulfur intake but also to provide robust responses to immune challenges. Research using OptiMSM indicates a healthy range of MSM intake to be at 1 – 6 grams per day orally. Considering all of the benefits, relying on MSM and sulfur as an essential piece of the foundational puzzle of smart daily nutrition makes good sense. Bottom-line … adding OptiMSM to your diet will support your immune system and benefit your overall health.