Sulphur is the third most abundant mineral in the body – after calcium andphosphorus – and is almost wholly absorbed through food.

What are its health benefits?

Sulphur is part of methionine and cysteine, amino acids needed in the making of proteins.

The benefits of sulphur are numerous:

  • It plays an important role in strengthening the immune system, in joint maintenance and in fighting heart disease.
  • It also helps ease arthritis and allergy symptoms, among others.
  • It is also used as an ingredient in some skincare and hair-care products.
  • When applied topically as an ointment or powder, sulphur is thought to treat conditions such as acne, rosacea, warts and dandruff.

Do you have a deficiency?

Lack of sulphur is normally associated with low protein in the diet. Although sulphur deficiency is rare, supplements are sometimes used to increase sulphur levels and protect against certain health conditions.

Deficiency symptoms include, among others:

Find it in these foods

Sulphur-containing foods include:

  • Fish
  • High-quality (organic and/or grass-fed/pastured) beef and poultry
  • Organic eggs
  • Legumes
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Asparagus
  • Wheat germ

Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)

There is no recommended dietary allowance for sulphur. Eating whole food is the optimum way to obtain the necessary nutritional value, but supplements offer another option and are best when combined with the B vitamins.

Know the overdose risks

Excessive sulphur-containing foods will cause methionine and cysteine to be excreted in the urine, which can impart a strong odour to the urine. Sulphur-rich foods can also cause stomach problems, flatulence and sulphur breath.

If you cannot metabolise cysteine properly, the amino acid can build up in the body and cause serious organ damage, particularly to the kidneys and the eyes.

As a supplement, sulphur is available in the form of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Dosages vary and will depend on age and condition. Both MSM and DMSO may cause certain side effects, such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Ensure you discuss dietary supplementation with your Clicks pharmacist to avoid the potential for side effects and adverse interactions with medications.

The accuracy of this information was checked and approved by Clicks' pharmacist Waheed Abdurahman in February 2015