Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sulfur in Their Diet?

Posted on February 05 2022, By: Dr. Aqsa Ph.D. Scholar in Nutrigenomics

Are Your Kids Getting Enough Sulfur in Their Diet?




After phosphorus and calcium, sulfur is the next most abundant mineral present in the human body. This mineral is naturally present in several foods, typically in protein-rich foods, and also available in the form of dietary supplements. Sulfur is an important component of two essential amino acids in the human body, including methionine and cysteine. These amino acids perform several key metabolic reactions, and they must be supplied through diet because they are not synthesized in the body. (1)

What does sulfur do? The human body requires this mineral to fix and build DNA. It also helps protect the body’s cells from damage that can result in serious health conditions, like cancer and diabetes. Additionally, sulfur aids in metabolizing food and maintaining the health of ligaments, skin, and tendons. Sulfur is often used in the treatment of skin conditions as it contains antibacterial properties and generally improves skin health.

Research has revealed that protein-rich foods contain 3-6% of sulfur-containing amino acids. There is also a small amount of this mineral available in onion, garlic, and broccoli in the form of inorganic sulfates and organic sulfur. A deficiency of sulfur can lead to several health complications in children, such as depression, acne, and poor hair and nail health. In cases of severe deficiency, sulfur supplements may be helpful with the approval of a physician. (2)

How Does Sulfur Function in Your Child’s Body?

Sulfur is present in all living tissues of the human body. Several studies have depicted that sulfur performs several important functions in your child’s body, including gene regulation, protein formation, repairing and building of DNA, and food metabolism. In addition, this mineral is necessary to produce and recycle glutathione, an important antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage and inflammation. This chemical also helps maintain the integrity of connective tissues, including ligaments, tendons, and skin in children.

Research has demonstrated that topical application of this mineral on your child’s body is effective for treating skin infections, dandruff, acne, and skin redness. It is also useful in treating several skin conditions in children, including seborrheic dermatitis. One study concluded that sulfur has strong antibacterial properties that protect your child from infectious diseases.

How is sulfur absorbed in the body? Research has revealed that in the absorption process sulfur is first reduced to hydrogen sulfide. These sulfides are then oxidized to sulfates and removed from the body in the form of urine as an inorganic sulfate. (1)

Why Do Children Need Sulfur?

This essential mineral provides several health benefits for your kid. Being an essential component of glutathione, sulfur plays an important role in the detoxification process that occurs in the liver. This mineral is involved in the production of unsaturated fatty acids including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which we know are greatly important to your child’s mental and physical health. (3)

Other important health benefits of sulfur for children include the following:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves skin health
  • Reduces allergy symptoms
  • Reduces joint pain

Boosts immunity: Your child’s immune system is a network of organs, tissues, and specialized cells that protect your kid from disease and illness. Research has revealed that sulfur-containing foods are effective in boosting immune functions in children. This is because it has strong antimicrobial properties that protect your child from several illnesses, such as seasonal colds and flu. It has even been found that sulfur-containing molecules protect the body from malaria. Additionally. sulfur is useful in reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in children, which are processes that contribute to weakened immune health. (4)

Improves skin health: Sulfur plays an important role in maintaining skin health in children by strengthening keratin. Keratin is a protein and the main structural component of your child’s nails, skin, and hair. This protein is rich in cysteine, a sulfur-containing amino acid. This is why you might notice that burnt hair gives of a sulfurous smell!

Sulfur-containing compounds, including methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), have also been found to help maintain skin health by reducing inflammation that damages your skin cells and can lead to aging. In addition, it also helps treat the symptoms of several skin conditions. One recent study has concluded that topical application of the sulfur compound MSM can significantly improve itching, redness, hydration, inflammation, and skin color in people suffering from rosacea. Another study has demonstrated that sulfur is also useful in treating skin infections that are caused by scabies (mites). Over-the-counter sulfur-containing jellies are commonly used to treat skin problems in kids when applied to infected areas. (1)(5)

Does your kid suffer from dandruff? Well, sulfur is an FDA-approved ingredient used to treat dandruff. Sulfur-containing compounds are often added to shampoos, and research has revealed that the use of sulfur-containing shampoos for 5 weeks can significantly reduce dandruff in kids.

Reduces allergy symptoms: Allergic rhinitis is a common allergic reaction in children, which can result in sneezing, nasal congestion, watery eyes, itching, and runny nose. The common causes of this allergy are molds, animal dander, and pollen in the environment. After exposure to these allergens, several inflammatory substances, including cytokines and prostaglandins, are released in the body and result in the unpleasant symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

One study looked at 50 children suffering from allergic rhinitis who received a 2600 mg dose of the sulfur-containing compound MSM for one month. The results showed that the children experienced a significant improvement in symptoms, such as sneezing, congestion, itching, shortness of breath, and coughing. Participants also experienced a significant increase in their energy levels. (6)

Reduces joint pain: One of the most important health benefits of sulfur is reduced joint pain and muscle cramps. The research has found that sulfur-rich foods are effective in reducing joint degradation, which is a common cause of pain in the hips, knees, hands, and back. Joint degradation also affects your child’s quality of life by limiting their mobility and movement. One recent study revealed that sulfur also can stop the breakdown of cartilage, which is a flexible connective tissue that protects your child’s bones where they meet joints. (7)

What Is Sulfur Deficiency?

A deficiency of the essential mineral sulfur can result in a variety of health complications, such as arthritis, acne, brittle hair and nails, memory loss, slow healing of wounds, convulsions, and depression. In addition, a lack of sulfur in children can also contribute to chronic diseases including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and obesity at a later age. Inadequate sulfur intake can even lead to skeletal disorders, muscle pain, and inflammation. The most common reason for sulfur deficiency in children is the inadequate intake of sulfur-rich foods, especially because the body does not produce sulfur on its own. (8)

The common signs and symptoms of sulfur deficiency in kids include:

  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Skin problems
  • Depression

Brittle nails and hair: If you notice your kid having brittle nails and hair, they might be deficient in essential minerals, such as sulfur. One study has found that children with sulfur deficiency have poor nail and hair health. This is because sulfur helps in strengthening keratin, which is a structural protein of hair and nails. (9)

Skin problems: Research has found that children and teens suffering from various skin issues, including acne, are usually deficient in sulfur. This is because this mineral fights against pathogenic bacteria, therefore preventing several skin problems in kids. (10)

Depression: A recent study has found that sulfur deficiency in children can result in several brain-related conditions, such as depression, seizures, confusion, and irritability. On the other hand, a great excess of sulfur can cause brain cells to die, resulting in brain damage in children. (10)

How Much Sulfur Does Your Kid Need per Day?

It is essential to your child’s health that you provide an adequate amount of sulfur in their diet to to meet their body’s requirements. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for this mineral is not yet developed. However, the recommended dose for the sulfur-containing amino acid (methionine) is 14 mg per kg of body weight. There is currently no recommended dose for other forms of sulfur.

For children, the recommended doses for the sulfur-containing amino acid (methionine) are as follows: (11)

 Age Recommended daily amount in milligrams (mg)
0-6 months 98 mg
7-12 months 112 mg
1-3 years 196 mg
4-8 years 350 mg
9-13 years 630 mg
14-18 years 850 mg (males); 750 mg (females)
19+ years 940 mg (males); 850 mg (females)

Should You Give Sulfur Supplements to Your Kids?

Research has found that the topical application of sulfur to treat dandruff and skin problems is likely safe for kids. One study has shown that products containing sulfur with up to 10% concentration do not cause any side effects in children. It is recommended that you consult with your child’s doctor before giving sulfur supplements to your kid. (1)

Foods That Are Rich in Sulfur

Sulfur is found in a wide range of foods and beverages, especially in protein-rich foods. Some major sulfur-containing foods include: (12)

Food Category Foods
Seafood and fish
Mussels, shrimp, prawns, scallops 
Kidney beans, soybeans, split peas, black beans, white beans 
Seeds and nuts Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds 
Dried fruits
Sultanas, dried peaches, figs, apricots
Wheat, barley, oats (including their flour forms) 
Coconut milk, wine, beer, tomato juice, grape juice
Spices and condiments
Curry powder, horseradish, marmite, ground ginger, mustard 
Dairy and eggs Cow’s milk, parmesan, whole eggs, gorgonzola, cheddar cheese


Water and other miscellaneous sources: A recent study has found that drinking water also provides a significant amount of this mineral, depending on where you live. It is more likely you will find sulfur in your drinking water when your source is a ground well. Sulfur is also used as a preservative and added to pickles, dried fruit, and jams to increase their shelf-life. (13

Risks and Side Effects of Sulfur

Overuse of topical sulfur products can cause several problems, including redness, swelling, burning sensation, skin peeling in treated areas, dryness, stinging, tingling, itching, and oily skin. Taking large doses of sulfur-containing supplements can also cause negative side effects, such as headache, bloating, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, allergic reactions, and itching. (14)

It is important to moderate sulfur doses given to your child, and it is suggested that you speak with a doctor before using sulfur-containing products as a treatment option. According to health experts, the topical use of products containing 2% of sulfur concentration is safe for your child. For best results, it is suggested that sulfur treatments be given to your child at night. Follow instructions for treatment and storage that are provided on the packaging of any products being used. If any uncomfortable side effects occur, you should immediately discontinue the use of the product and contact your child’s doctor or a medical professional for guidance. (15)(16)


Sulfur is the third most abundant mineral found in your child’s body, and it is present in almost all living tissues. This mineral performs several important functions, such as helping to build and repair DNA, metabolizing food, and maintaining the health of joints, skin, ligaments, and tendons. Sulfur provides a wide range of health benefits to your child. It boosts immune health, improves skin health, reduces allergy symptoms, and treats joint and muscle pain. Major dietary sources of this mineral include nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, beverages, and drinking water. Deficiency of this mineral can result in various health complications in kids, including brittle nails and hair, skin problems, and depression. Remember that providing an excess of any vitamin or mineral to your child can produce uncomfortable and even dangerous side effects, and it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor for best guidance on supplementing your child’s diet.




Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not use this information for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal or homeopathic supplement and with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.