Jan 19, 2018

MSM Organic Sulfur

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What is MSM?

MSM is an acronym for Methylsulfonylmethane. MSM organic sulfur is a naturally occurring compound found in plants, animals, and humans. It’s the dominant form of sulfur in the human body. Sulfur is an essential element for every cell, especially body tissues. Notably, this nutrient helps to stabilize the connective tissue matrix of tendons, cartilage, and ligaments. Researchers identified as far back as the early 20th century that patients with arthritis are commonly deficient in sulfur.
According to current research, MSM appears to have both anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative qualities and is categorized as having an excellent safety profile.

Exercise recovery

Studies of MSM continue for uses in exercise recovery and performance in healthy individuals. Perhaps the most quoted pilot study of MSM and exercise recovery is the one that appears in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition. To the researchers’ knowledge, this was the first study to observe an effect of MSM on antioxidant capacity. For healthy athletes, this is perhaps one of the most exciting applications of the compound.

Joints and arthritis

As a supplement, it’s common to pair MSM with glucosamine and other joint supporting ingredients, like Chondroitin, in a single formula. Controlling inflammation, and providing sulfur are conventional methods of supporting joints and assisting those suffering from Osteoarthritis conditions. Arthritis Research UK alone references several MSM trials for osteoarthritis.

Other studies

People take MSM for a wide variety of reasons for digestive complaints and snoring, to autoimmune and even degenerative conditions. That doesn’t mean it’s useful in all these cases. Numerous studies on MSM seek to discern if it can be used to benefit a wide variety of conditions. The US National Library of Medicine categorizes Methylsulfonylmethane as possibly effective for muscle damage caused by exercise, hemorrhoids, and osteoarthritis. Recent research efforts include its benefit for inflammation and oxidative stress/damage, as well as applications for allergy and immune support.

Dietary sources*

The table below shows some of the sources food “experts” point to as sources of MSM.

Cow’s milk


Whole grains

Swiss chard

Meat, poultry, fish


Wheat germ

Alfalfa sprouts


Vegetables – especially legumes



Coffee and tea

Onions and garlic


Brussel sprouts

So how does sulfur like MSM get into our food sources, to begin with? It is theorized that plants mine minerals from the soil – not with hardhats and pickaxes, but in cooperation with soil biology, the roots can uptake the minerals in a bioavailable form.

*The fine print on dietary sources

Part of the problem with MSM from plants (and animals that eat the plants) is there’s not a great way to make it available to humans (pressing etc.). Food processing can destroy MSM, even if you’re able to extract it.

The best sources aren’t things you want to eat. The plants with the highest concentrations of sulfur aren’t things you would like to eat. According to phytochemical research (the study of chemical compounds produced by plants), the best sources of sulfur are Stinging Nettle, Red Clover, Chives, and Pigweed. These sources of sulfur contain 6000-8000 parts per million.

Commercial Sources of MSM

While food sources might be able to provide around 2000 mcg worth – commercial sources offer significantly more. Ageless Joints, for example, has 800,000 mcg or 800 mg worth in a suggested daily use. While the FDA has not established a daily value, this is clearly a better way to get yours rather than chewing weeds.

One of the reasons to combine supplements into formulas with complementary ingredients is a synergistic effect where ingredients work better paired than alone. Scientist study numerous pairings like Calcium with Vitamin D, or MSM with Glucosamine.

All commercial MSM comes from synthetic Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) – an organosulfur compound. When we’re talking about organic compounds, “organic” means it contains carbon. When someone says MSM organic sulfur, it’s not the same sense of your certified organic kale. For that matter, there’s sulfur in gunpowder too – not that you’d want to eat that.

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