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By Jack Challem
All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Let's Live magazine.

Sulfur-Containing Supplements foods  provide large amounts of sulfur, include egg yolks, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, watercress, radish, leek, onion, and  garlic. Unfortunately, many people dislike these foods or, as in the case of eggs, avoid them.

Among the popular sulfur-containing supplements are: alpha-lipoic acid, chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate, garlic, glutathione, methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), N-acetylcysteine, and S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe). It's likely that these supplement are beneficial because they donate a variety of biologically active sulfur compounds to a multitude of body processes. You can also have sulfur baths.

Following are some of the most popular sulfur-containing supplements:

Alpha-lipoic acid. A vitamin-like substance found in foods (beef and spinach) and produced by the body, alpha-lipoic acid plays key roles in energy production. It is part of a process that breaks down glucose (blood sugar) and burns it for energy. Studies have found that alpha-lipoic acid can lower and stabilize glucose levels in diabetics by as much as 30 percent. , It also reverses nerve pain and numbness in diabetes. Lester Packer, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, has reported that alpha-lipoic acid can reenergize other important antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and glutathione. Packer believes, based on animal studies, that alpha-lipoic acid holds tremendous potential in helping stroke victims recover. Dosage: 50-300 mg daily.

Chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate. Both chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate help form cartilage tissue, particularly in the pads that cushion joints. Thin or absent joint cartilage results in osteoarthritis, in which bones grind against each other. Medical studies support both chondroitin and glucosamine sulfate supplements. In an analysis of 13 studies, researchers at Case Western University School of Medicine reported that supplements of each resulted in a 40 percent improvement in osteoarthritic symptoms. Some research has also found that chondroitin sulfate works better than analgesic drugs at relieving pain. In a recent U.S. Navy study, researchers found that a combination of chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, and vitamin C reduced osteoarthritic symptoms by 26 to 43 percent (depending on the specific symptom). Dosage: glucosamine, 1,500 mg, and chondroitin, 1,200 mg daily.

Garlic. Sitting on the shelf, garlic has little biological activity. But dicing and cooking it triggers a cascade of chemical reactions (starting with oxidation), that lead to more than 100 sulfur-rich chemical compounds, including some sulfur-containing amino acids. Garlic boosts antioxidant levels in the body, and virtually every form of the food has some health benefits. Studies have found that garlic supplements can lower cholesterol levels in people. John Milner, Ph.D., of Pennsylvania State University, University Park, and other researchers have reported that garlic can block the action of cancer-causing compounds and, in laboratory animals, delay the growth of some cancers. Dosage: add garlic liberally to food, or take 500-2,000 mg daily in supplemental form.

Glutathione. Described by chemists as a tripeptide (composed of cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid), glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant made by the human body. Not surprisingly, low blood levels of glutathione are associated with heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. In addition, glutathione also helps the liver break down toxic chemicals, whether they are absorbed from the environment or produced by the body. Researchers recently reported that diets high in glutathione protected against lung cancer. Good dietary sources of glutathione include beef, potatoes, winter squash, oranges, and tomatoes. More than 90 percent of the nonprotein-bound sulfur in cells is found in glutathione. Dosage: 75-150 mg daily.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM). Although scientific research on MSM is limited, 55,000 studies have been published on the closely related dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). Stanley Jacob, M.D., of Oregon health Sciences University, Portland, a pioneer in researching both MSM, has found MSM very effective in reducing muscle and joint pain, interstitial cystitis (a type of very painful bladder inflammation). According to Jacob, MSM also eases symptoms of scleroderma, a chronic degenerative disease that scars skin, joints, and connective tissue. By weight, MSM is 34 percent sulfur. Dosage: 1,000-2,000 mg daily.

N-acetylcysteine. Virtually every hospital emergency room stocks N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as an antidote for acetaminophen (Tylenol) poisoning. Acetaminophen depresses glutathione production in the liver, whereas NAC restores it. In a study of 262 elderly people, supplements of 1,2000 mg of NAC daily reduced the occurrence of flu symptoms by two-thirds. Researchers at Stanford University have reported that high dosages of NAC significantly extend the life expectancy of AIDS patients. Preliminary research also suggests that it may be helpful in preventing cancer. , NAC is completely safe, unlike pure cysteine, which can damage brain cells. Dosage: 500-2,000 mg daily.

S-adenosyl-L-methionine. Better known as SAMe (pronounced "sammy"), this nutrient plays a central role in a process biochemists call methylation. By donating "methyl groups," containing carbon and hydrogen, to 40 major chemical reactions, SAMe promotes the building of new cells and essential processes in existing cells. Because of these fundamental roles in health, SAMe has been shown helpful in treating depression, controlling inflammation and pain, and speeding healing. Dosage: 200-400 mg daily.

Although each of these supplements is rich in sulfur, each also provides health benefits for other reasons as well. For example, alpha-lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant. NAC and glutathione enhance immune function. And glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfur help rebuild damaged joints.

You certainly don't need to take all of these. But keep the sulfur solution in mind-you can't go wrong.

The information provided by Jack Challem and The Nutrition Reporterô newsletter is strictly educational and not intended as medical advice. For diagnosis and treatment, consult your physician

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