March 23, 2023

The importance of sulphur

Sulphur is an essential component of all living cells. Sulphur is a major inorganic element with biological importance across species. Found in protein molecules in muscles, hair, eyes, brain and other organs. It is abundant in human body and makes up about a quarter of a percentage of human weight.

Sulphur has an atomic weight 32.064, an atomic number of 16, and is represented by the chemical symbol “S”.

Sulphur is found in insulin and thus helps to regulate the metabolism of sugar. It assists in maintenance of oxygen balance necessary for brain function.

Most of the dietary sulphur is provided by the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine, with an estimated requirement for young men of ~14 mg/day per kg body weight. Although cysteine is not an essential amino acid, it can be synthesized only from methionine, and it is conventional to consider the sum of methionine plus cysteine (the sulphur amino acids) in consideration of protein quality.

Proteins contain between 3 and 6% of sulfur amino acids. A very small percentage of sulfur comes in the form of inorganic sulfates and other forms of organic sulfur present in foods such as garlic, onion, broccoli, etc.

Allicin is a sulphur-containing compound (diallyl thiosulphinate; thio-2-propene-L-sulfinic acid-5-allyl ester), partially responsible for the flavor of garlic. Formed by the action of allinase on alliin (S-(2-propenyl)-L-cysteine sulphoxide) when the cells are disrupted, releasing the enzyme to act on the substrate. It has antibacterial properties.

Sulphur intake is directly correlational to protein intake source. Chicken, fish and beef proteins contain about 5% of sulphur -containing amino ccid. Dairy products contain around 4% because of casein’s lower sulphur -containing amino acid content.
The importance of sulphur
Methionine structural formula

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