The Health Benefits of Sulfur


Sulfur is the third most abundant chemical in the human body. The element is also found in a number of foods such as garlic, onions, eggs, and protein-rich foods. Sulfur is necessary for the synthesis of the essential amino acids cysteine and methionine. Sulfur plays an important role in the body and is necessary for the synthesis of certain key proteins. For example, sulfur is needed for the synthesis of glutathione, which acts as a potent antioxidant, protecting your cells from damage. While sulfur consumed naturally in foods is important for the body, there is scant evidence that taking sulfur supplements is helpful. So far, research has focussed on a few key areas of interest.

Dandruff, Sulfur is an FDA-approved ingredient for use in over-the-counter dandruff products. It is often combined with salicylic acid. However, there is limited evidence to support this use.

Osteoarthritis, Sulfur supplements are often used to treat osteoarthritis. This may be of some benefit to people with osteoarthritis of the knee, according to a research review published in the journal Osteoarthritis Cartilage in 2008. There’s also some evidence that balneotherapy may benefit people with osteoarthritis. Balneotherapy is an alternative therapy that involves treating health problems by bathing, usually in hot springs and other naturally mineral-rich waters. In many cases, the water used in balneotherapy contains sulfur.

Allergies, Sulfur supplements may help alleviate allergy symptoms, according to a small, older study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2002. researchers found that those assigned to the S supplements experienced significantly greater improvements in lower respiratory symptoms compared to members of the placebo group.

Rosacea (skin redness), topically applied sulfur may help treat rosacea, sulfur-containing lotions and/or cleansers may help enhance the benefits of other topical and oral therapies for rosacea.

Food rich in sulfur:

  • Meat and poultry: especially beef, ham, chicken, duck, turkey, and organ meats like heart and liver
  • Fish and seafood: most types of fish, as well as shrimp, scallops, mussels, and prawns
  • Legumes: especially soybeans, black beans, kidney beans, split peas, and white beans
  • Nuts and seeds: especially almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts, walnuts, and pumpkin and sesame seeds
  • Eggs and dairy: whole eggs, cheddar, Parmesan and gorgonzola cheese, and cow’s milk
  • Dried fruit: especially dried peaches, apricots, sultanas, and figs
  • Certain vegetables: particularly asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, leeks, onion, radishes, turnip tops, and watercress
  • Certain grains: especially pearl barley, oats, wheat, and flour made from these grains
  • Condiments and spices: especially horseradish, mustard, marmite, curry powder, and ground ginger

 Recommended dosage of sulfur:


There is no recommended daily allowance for sulfur. It is found naturally in foods including dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, seafood, onions, garlic, turnips, kale, and broccoli. Most people consume enough sulfur in their diet to meet the body’s needs. Although, at least one study has suggested that sulfur intake may be insufficient in people over the age of 75.


Take away tip

Sulfur is a chemical element that is present in all living tissues. After calcium and phosphorus, it is the third most abundant mineral in the human body. Sulfur is also found in garlic, onions, and broccoli. Sulfur is applied to the skin for dandruff and an itchy skin infection caused by mites (scabies). It is also applied to the skin for acne and skin redness (rosacea), and taken orally for many other conditions, but there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.


Q&A: What are the food sources of sulfur?

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