SULFUR AND SULFUR-CONTAINING AMINO ACIDS
by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© January 2014, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Table Of Contents
Qualities Of Sulfur
Confusion About Sulfur
Connective Tissue Problems
Hair Analysis Aspects
Sulfur is one of the most abundant and important minerals in the human body. It is a yang mineral and a male mineral.
QUALITIES OF SULFUR
Fiery. This is how sulfur cleanses the body. It helps burn up toxins. Industrially, sulfur is used in certain chemical processes for this reason. For example, it is found in gunpowder. It burns very fast and very hot. Ordinary kitchen matches contain sulfur because it ignites easily and burns well.
Acid-forming. Sulfur is an acid-forming mineral. Most of the acid-forming minerals are anabolic and tend to build the tissues.
In contrast, the more alkaline-forming minerals such as calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc and manganese are used more as regulators.
Personaltiy of sulfur. Historically, sulfury individuals are often similar to high-copper individuals. They often have a ruddy complexion and are fiery and hot-termpered. Without enough sulfur they “burn out” quickly. They usually like some red meat and love eating foods like cabbage, which is high in sulfur compounds. They are a less common personality type today.
It is found in most proteins in the sulfur-containing amino acids, along with phosphorus and nitrogen. These three elements form a triad of important elements needed as building blocks or structural components of all animal tissues. The sulfur gives animal tissues their strength, and their resiliency.
Sulfur, copper and molybdenum form a trio of minerals involved in connective tissue.
Confusion about sulfur. There is some confusion about sulfur because:
1. Our bodies need many different types of sulfur compounds.
2. some of these are provided by cooked vegetables, while others are only found in meats, eggs and dairy products.
1. Sulfur is a cleansing or detoxification mineral. It is critical for liver detoxification. Some sulfur compounds are also mild or extreme chelating agents. We do not recommend these chdelating agents.
Getting enough of this kind of sulfur is difficult or impossible for vegetarians and is one of the main problems of a vegetarian diet. Vegan diets are the worst, in this regard.
2. Sulfur is a building mineral. It is an anabolic mineral that is critical for making our body tissues.
It is particularly rich in all connective tissue. This includes, hair, skin, nails, tendons, ligaments, arteries, veins and parts of the heart.
3. Sulfur is also a flexibility mineral. It is needed in order to have flexible joints, tendons, ligaments, hair and other flexible connective tissues.
4. An escort. I believe sulfur also serves as an escort to help move certain toxins out of the body.
The main food sources are:
1. Meats and whole eggs.
2. Cooked vegetables. Rich sources are:
A. Onions and garlic.
B. Cruciferous family of vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, mainly)
C. Radish family of vegetables. This includes turnips, some greens and all types of radishes and daikon).
MSM For Joint Problems. Some people take MSM or methylsulfonylmethane to relieve joint pain, or for other reasons. It is a semi-synthetic sulfur compound.
I do not recommend this product. If you follow a nutritional balancing program, you will not need it. Also, it is extremely yin in macrobiotic terminology. As a result, it will interfere with your overall health and it will slow or stop development.
It lowers copper and acts as a remedy only. A much better way to get rid of joint pain and other connective tissue symptoms is to remove the irritants and toxic metals that are causing the problem. MSM does not do this very well.
Organic sulfur. A few supplement companies sell organic sulfur as a food supplement. I do not recommend this product because it is somewhat toxic. It is easy to get plenty of sulfur from foods by eating meats, eggs, some dairy products, and loads of cooked vegetables.
Chelating agents. Most chelating agents contain sulfur. This includes EDTA, DMSA, DMPS, and others. I do not recommend any of these agents.
They are not needed if one follow a nutritional balancing program. They are also toxic and have other problems, although they are better than heart bypass surgery. To read much more about them, read Chelation Therapy on this site.
This is common today because many people do not eat enough cooked vegetables. It is even worse in some vegetarians because certain sulfur compounds are found only in meats and eggs.
Symptoms include: inability to detoxify toxic metals and toxic chemicals. Also, problems with connective tissue. These can include joint pain, bursitis, inflammation, skin rashes, parasites, and other soft tissue problems.
Sulfur is a very important mineral in nutritional balancing programs. It is critical for detoxification, and for joint health.
I recommend obtaining it from food. The supplements are not as good. One can get plenty of sulfur from eating a lot of cooked vegetables, and from eating some meat and eggs. However, do not eat animal foods more than twice daily, and the portion size needs to be only 4-5 ounces. This will take care of your sulfur needs.
HAIR ANALYSIS NOTES
Some mineral laboratories measure the sulfur level in the hair. ARL does not measure it at this time (2016). I hope they will in the future.
The level of sulfur in hair is more than 100 times higher than the levels of the other minerals. This is because hair is a connective tissue, and this type of tissue contain a lot of sulfur. For the ideal hair level, a good range, and toxicity levels for sulfur, please go to Mineral Levels In Human Hair on this site.
The hair sulfur reading is not important for the basic interpretation of the hair test. However, it can indicate several things:
Low hair sulfur: This may indicate that a person will need to go into a four lows pattern during a nutritional balancing program in order to complete certain healing.
I do not think low sulfur can indicate a poor eliminator condition, as occurs with a number of other minerals.
Elevated hair sulfur: This can indicate:
1. Sulfur loss. A person is losing sulfur from the body. This can be due to:
A. Sulfur is acting as an escort, helping to move a toxin out of the body. This is similar to one way that the body uses zinc during nutritional balancing programs.
B. A catabolic state. This is not desirable.
2. Contamination or exogenous sulfur. A few dandruff shampoos contain sulfur. An elevated hair sulfur reading is occasionally due to contamination from a sulfur-containing shampoo.
There are many of these. A few of the important ones are discussed below.
SULFUR-CONTAINING AMINO ACIDS
These include the amino acids methionine, cysteine, homocysteine and taurine. Homocysteine and taurine are not involved in proteins, but they are sometimes considered “free amino acids”.
These are among the most important chemicals in the body. The first two of them assist with the flexibility of connective tissue, and they are also absolutely essential for detoxification in the liver and elsewhere.
Taurine is also important as an anti-oxidant, membrane stabilizer, neurotransmitter, needed to form one of the bile acids, and is needed to maintain the fluid balance inside of cells. It is very abundant in the body, and is only found in animal foods such as meats.
Sources. Taurine is only found in large amounts in meats and eggs. Cysteine and methionine are found in some well-cooked beans and some seeds such as sesame.
Isolated supplements. Sulfur-containing amino acids are also sold as isolated supplements such as L-taurine, N-acetyl-cysteine, methionine, cysteine and others.
All are very mild and fairly safe chelators. Sulfur-containing amino acids, specifically, are mild chelators. This means they can bind with metals in the body such as copper, lead and a few others.
I consider the pure amino acids much safer than other chelators, and they are used, at times, in nutritional balancing programs for short periods of time, usually to reduce copper.
They are not used for long periods of time because they can remove vital minerals, as can all chelators, most of which are sulfur compounds. These include cilantro, chlorella, bugleweed, yellow dock, EDTA, DMPS, DMSA, penicllamine and all others. We never use most chelators for this reason, as they are not needed and are almost always harmful to the delicate balancing of body chemistry.
Used for a four lows pattern. L-Taurine is the only sulfur-containing product used regularly in nutritional balancing programs, and this is only when a four lows pattern is present. I am not sure why, but L-taurine works excellently in this situation. To learn more, read the article entitled, Taurine on this website.
DISULFIDE BONDS IN CONNECTIVE TISSUE
Another very important type of sulfur compounds in the body are called disulfide bonds. These are the basis for connective tissue strength and flexibility.
These bonds can become damaged, often by the presence of an excessive amount of a biounavailable form of copper or iron. These are often in oxide form. We call this form of minerals “amigos” because a number of them are often found together in the body. for more, read Iron, Manganese, and Aluminum - The Amigos on this site.
This causes symptoms including inflammation, tendonitis, arthritis, bursitis, muscle and joint stiffness, contractures, spondylitis, adhesions, scars, fibrosis and sclerosis. For more on this general topic, read Arthritis Or Joint Pain on this site.
HAIR, SKIN AND NAILS ARE HIGH IN SULFUR
These tissues are example of special types of connective tissues that are also very rich in collagen, and keratin, both high in sulfur. If you are having trouble with these tissues in your body, consider eating more meat, eggs and cooked vegetables in the cabbage and radish family, in particular. For more on this topic, read Hair Loss and Skin Diseases on this website.
SULFUR AND LIVER DETOXIFICATION
Restoring and maintaining liver detoxification is one of the most important aspects of healing. Sulfur is absolutely needed for the detoxification pathways in the liver. This is one of the major roles of sulfur in the body. Many of the detoxification compounds such as glutathione require sulfur.
Problems with liver detoxification pathways such as the P-450 and other pathways are common not only in vegetarians and especially vegans, but also other people who do not eat correctly.
For example, eating a lot of fruit seems to interfere with sulfur metabolism. Possible reasons are:
1. Fruit is very low in sulfur. In contrast, cooked vegetables are rich in sulfur. It is one reason to avoid fruit and eat plenty of cooked vegetables.
2. Eating a lot of fruit usually means a person does not consume nearly enough of the high-sulfur vegetables and meats.
Other methods of therapy may interfere with sulfur metabolism as well, including perhaps some bio-identical hormone therapies and perhaps some medical drug regimens such as some of the antibiotics, which all seem to build up in the liver for some reason. For more on liver dysfunctions, detoxification and nutritional balancing, read Liver Dysfunctions and Steps To Enhance Liver Detoxification on this site.
A serious problem with vegetarian and especially vegan diets. I definitely recommend meat and eggs to assist detoxification in the liver. We find that most vegetarians, while not ingesting some toxic metals found in meats and fish, also cannot remove toxic metals as well because they are low in the sulfur-containing amino acids. The sulfur also is required for other functions such as tendon and ligament health.