Low-sulfur diet

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Methionine, an essential sulfur containing amino acid

A low-sulfur diet is a diet with reduced sulfur content. Sulfur containing compounds may also be referred to as thiols or mercaptans. Important dietary sources of sulfur and sulfur containing compounds may be classified as essential mineral (e.g. elemental sulfur), essential amino acid (methionine) and semi-essential amino acid (e.g. cysteine). Sulfur, as an essential mineral and as sulfur containing amino acids are fundamentally important to human health, and conditions such as nitrogen imbalance and protein-energy malnutrition may result from deficiency. Methionine cannot be synthesized by humans, and cysteine synthesis requires a steady supply of sulfur. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of methionine (combined with cysteine) for adults is set at 13–14 mg kg-1 day-1 (13–14 mg per kg of body weight per day), but some researchers have argued that this figure is too low, and should more appropriately be 25 mg kg-1 day-1.[1] Despite the importance of sulfur, restrictions of dietary sulfur are sometimes recommended for certain diseases and for other reasons.[citation needed] Practitioners of complimentary and alternative medicine also sometimes recommend low sulfur diets for the so-called dental amalgam mercury poisoning, a condition which is not accepted to exist by most mainstream experts.[citation needed]

Cystathionine beta-synthase deficiency[edit]

Cystathionine β-synthase (CBS) deficiency is a serious disorder of transsulfuration which is managed with methionine restricted dieting.[2]

Ulcerative colitis[edit]

Reduced dietary sulfur is investigated in ulcerative colitis research, but this is controversial.[3]

Food sources of Methionine[4]
Food g/100g
Egg, white, dried, powder, glucose reduced 3.204
Sesame seeds flour (low fat) 1.656
Egg, whole, dried 1.477
Cheese, Parmesan, shredded 1.114
Brazil nuts 1.008
Soy protein concentrate 0.814
Chicken, broilers or fryers, roasted 0.801
Fish, tuna, light, canned in water, drained solids 0.755
Beef, cured, dried 0.749
Bacon 0.593
Beef, ground, 95% lean meat / 5% fat, raw 0.565
Pork, ground, 96% lean / 4% fat, raw 0.564
Wheat germ 0.456
Oat 0.312
Peanuts 0.309
Chickpea 0.253
Corn, yellow 0.197
Almonds 0.151
Beans, pinto, cooked 0.117
Lentils, cooked 0.077
Rice, brown, medium-grain, cooked 0.052


In the farming industry, environmental concerns over air pollution lead to research aimed at reducing the odor of manure. A body of evidence emerged that increased sulfur containing amino acid content of feed increased the offensive odor of feces and flatus produced by livestock.[5] This is thought to be due to increased sulfur containing substrate available to gut microbiota enabling increased volatile sulfur compound (VSC) release during gut fermentation (VSC are thought to be the primary contributors to the odor of flatus and feces). This theory is supported by the observation that feces from carnivores is more malodorous than feces from herbivore species,[citation needed] and this appears to apply to human diets as well (odor of human feces shown to increase with increased dietary protein, particularly sulfur containing amino acids).[6][7]

"Amalgam toxicity"[edit]

Low sulfur diets are purported to be therapeutic for non medically recognized conditions such as "dental amalgam mercury poisoning".[8]

Sulfur content of food[edit]

Generally, a low sulfur diet involves reduction of cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, broccoli and other leafy vegetables), dairy products, eggs, onions and peas.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nimni, ME; Han, B; Cordoba, F (Nov 6, 2007). "Are we getting enough sulfur in our diet?". Nutrition & metabolism 4: 24. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-4-24. PMC 2198910. PMID 17986345. 
  2. ^ D Valle, ed. (2006). "Chapter 88: Disorders of Transsulfuration". Scriver’s Online Metabolic and Molecular Bases of Inherited Disease. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 
  3. ^ Jowett, SL; Seal, CJ; Pearce, MS; Phillips, E; Gregory, W; Barton, JR; Welfare, MR (October 2004). "Influence of dietary factors on the clinical course of ulcerative colitis: a prospective cohort study.". Gut 53 (10): 1479–84. doi:10.1136/gut.2003.024828. PMC 1774231. PMID 15361498. 
  4. ^ National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, U.S. Department of Agriculture, retrieved 2009-09-07 .
  5. ^ Chavez, C; Coufal, CD; Carey, JB; Lacey, RE; Beier, RC; Zahn, JA (June 2004). "The impact of supplemental dietary methionine sources on volatile compound concentrations in broiler excreta.". Poultry science 83 (6): 901–10. doi:10.1093/ps/83.6.901. PMID 15206616. 
  6. ^ Geypens, B; Claus, D; Evenepoel, P; Hiele, M; Maes, B; Peeters, M; Rutgeerts, P; Ghoos, Y (July 1997). "Influence of dietary protein supplements on the formation of bacterial metabolites in the colon.". Gut 41 (1): 70–6. doi:10.1136/gut.41.1.70. PMC 1027231. PMID 9274475. 
  7. ^ Hiele, M; Ghoos, Y; Rutgeerts, P; Vantrappen, G; Schoorens, D (June 1991). "Influence of nutritional substrates on the formation of volatiles by the fecal flora.". Gastroenterology 100 (6): 1597–602. PMID 2019366. 
  8. ^ "livingnetwork.co.za". Retrieved 29 November 2012.