Sulfur is a nonmetallic element that occurs widely in nature, being present in every cell of animals and plants. Sulfur makes up 0.25 percent of the human
body weight. It is called nature's "beauty mineral" because it keeps the hair glossy and smooth and keeps the complexion clear and youthful.
Sulfur has an important relationship with protein. It is contained in the amino acids methionine, cystine and cysteine, and it appears to be necessary for collagen synthesis. Sulfur is prevalent in keratin, a tough protein substance necessary for health and maintenance of the skin, nails, and hair. It is found in insulin, the hormone that regulates carbohydrate metabolism. It also occurs in carbohydrates such as heparin, an anticoagulant found in the liver and other tissues.
Sulfur works with thiamine, pantothenic acid, biotin, and lipoic acid, which are needed for metabolism and strong nerve health. In addition, sulfur plays a part in tissue respiration, the process whereby oxygen and other substances are used to build cells and release energy. It works with the liver to secrete bile. Sulfur also helps to maintain overall body balance.
The soil in many areas is deficient in sulfur; therefore plant foods vary in content. The best source of sulfur is eggs. Others are meat, fish, cheese, and milk.
Sulfur is stored in every cell of the body. The highest concentrations are found in the joints, hair, skin, and nails. Excess sulfur is excreted in the urine and the feces.
There is no Recommended Dietary Allowance for sulfur because it is assumed that a person's sulfur requirement is met when the protein intake is adequate.98 Sulfur can be used in various forms such as ointments, creams, lotions, and dusting powders. Excessive intake of sulfur may result in toxicity.
Deficiency Effects and Symptoms
Vegetarians may become deficient in sulfur if they don't eat eggs.
Beneficial Effect on Ailments
Sulfur is important in the treatment of arthritis. The level of cystine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, in arthritic patients is usually much lower than normal. When used topically in the form of an ointment, sulfur is helpful in treating skin disorders, such as psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis. It also may be beneficial in treating ringworm.