Sulfur is an essential mineral for our health. All living cells use sulfur, and it is the seventh most abundant element in the human body. Our skin, hair, nails, muscles, and bones all contain sulfur. Our intestinal mucosal barrier is comprised of sulfomucins, and it is important for the endogenous production of glutathione and insulin.
Where Do We Get Our Sulfur?
Most of our ingested sulfur the body uses comes from our digestive system and microbiome breaking down protein into amino acids. Cysteine, taurine, homocysteine, and methionine are examples of sulfonated amino acids that we obtain from protein ingestion. We also ingest sulfurous containing foods, including cruciferous vegetables and alliums that supply us with the mineral sulfur.
What Does Our Body Do With Sulfur?
Most of the sulfur in the human body is used up by our cells and microbiome. Some sulfur metabolism byproducts are detoxified and excreted from our body as well. Minute amounts of sulfur are endogenously converted into hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is necessary because it is an endogenous cellular signaling molecule, it is important for producing mitochondrial energy, it is a vasodilator, and in very minute amounts can reduce mucosal injury and inflammation. In someone with a healthy microbiome, very minute amounts of hydrogen sulfide are produced from sulfurous containing food that is ingested.
Hydrogen sulfide dysbiosis mainly occurs in the upper gut (oral cavity, stomach, duodenum, liver, gallbladder, and pancreas) but can cause small intestinal and colonic dysbiosis as well. Many bacteria that produce hydrogen sulfide from sulfur colonize the upper gut but can also colonize other parts of your digestive tract and body as well.
- Sulfurous or “rotten egg” smelling flatulence and defecation. May become stronger with ingestion of sulfurous foods like cruciferous vegetables and eggs.
- Chronic fatigue syndrome, elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide are toxic to the mitochondria because it increases oxidative stress.
- Brain fog and/or short term memory loss.
- Digestive tract inflammation, irritation, and ulceration.
- Low blood pressure