Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sulfur Deficiency
Written by Stephanie Seneff, PhD
Saturday, 02 July 2011 20:37

A Possible Contributing Factor in Obesity, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Chronic Fatigue
Obesity is quickly becoming the number one health issue confronting America today, and has also risen to epidemic proportions worldwide. Its spread is associated with the adoption of a Western-style diet. However, I believe that the widespread consumption of food imports produced by U.S. companies plays a crucial role in the rise in obesity worldwide. Specifically, these “fast foods” typically include heavily processed derivatives of corn, soybeans and grains, grown on highly efficient mega-farms. Furthermore, I will argue in this essay that one of the core underlying causes of obesity may be sulfur deficiency. Sulfur is the eighth most common element by mass in the human body, behind oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. The two sulfur-containing amino acids, methionine and cysteine, play essential physiological roles throughout the body. However, sulfur has been consistently overlooked by those addressing the issues of nutritional deficiencies. In fact, the National Academy of Sciences has not even assigned a minimum daily requirement (MDR) for sulfur. One consequence of sulfur’s limbo nutritional status is that it is omitted from the long list of supplements that are commonly artificially added to popular foods like cereal.

Sulfur is found in a large number of foods, and, as a consequence, it is assumed that almost any diet would meet the minimum daily requirements. Excellent sources are eggs, onions, garlic, and leafy dark green vegetables like kale and broccoli. Meats, nuts, and seafood also contain sulfur. Methionine, an essential amino acid, is found mainly in egg whites and fish. A diet high in grains like bread and cereal is likely to be deficient in sulfur. Increasingly, whole foods such as corn and soybeans are disassembled into component parts with chemical names, and then reassembled into heavily processed foods. Sulfur is lost along the way, and so is the awareness that this loss matters.
Experts have recently become aware that sulfur depletion in the soil creates a serious deficiency for plants,17 brought about in part by improved efficiency in the U.S. agricultural industry, which has steadily consolidated into highly technologized mega-farms.
It is estimated that humans obtain about ten percent of their sulfur supply from drinking water. Remarkably, people who drink soft water have an increased risk of heart disease compared to people who drink hard water.2 Many possible reasons have been suggested for why this might be true, and just about every trace metal has been considered as a possibility.3 However, I believe that the real reason may simply be that hard water is more likely to contain sulfur.

The ultimate source of sulfur is volcanic rock, mainly basalt, spewed up from the earth’s core during volcanic eruptions. It is generally believed that humans first evolved in the African rift zone, a region that would have enjoyed an abundance of sulfur due to the heavy volcanic activity there.
The three principal suppliers of sulfur to the Western nations are Greece, Italy and Japan. These three countries also enjoy low rates of heart disease and obesity and increased longevity. In the United States, Oregon and Hawaii, two states with significant volcanic activity, have among the lowest obesity rates in the country. By contrast, the highest obesity rates are found in the midwest and in southern farm country: the epicenter of the modern agricultural practices (mega-farms) that lead to sulfur depletion in the soil. Among all fifty states, Oregon has the lowest childhood obesity rates.
Hawaii’s youth are faring less well than their parents, however: while Hawaii ranks as the fifth from the bottom in obesity rates, its children aged ten through seventeen weigh in at number thirteen. As Hawaiians have recently become increasingly dependent on food imports from the mainland, they have suffered accordingly with increased obesity problems.
In her recently published book, The Jungle Effect,25 Dr. Daphne Miller devotes a full chapter to Iceland in which she struggles to answer the question of why Icelanders enjoy such remarkably low rates of depression, despite living at a northern latitude, where one would expect a high incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder. She points out, furthermore, their excellent health record in other key areas: “When compared to North Americans, they have almost half the death rate from heart disease and diabetes, significantly less obesity, and a greater life expectancy. In fact, the average life span for Icelanders is amongst the longest in the world.” While she proposes that their high fish consumption, with associated high intake of omega-3 fats, may plausibly be the main beneficial factor, she puzzles over the fact that former Icelanders who move to Canada and also eat lots of fish do not also enjoy the same decreased rate of depression and heart disease.
In my view, the key to Icelanders’ good health lies in the string of volcanoes that make up the backbone of the island, which sits atop the mid-Atlantic ridge crest. Dr. Miller pointed out that the mass exodus to Canada was due to extensive volcanic eruptions in the late 1800s, which blanketed the highly cultivated southeast region of the country. This means, of course, that the soils today are highly enriched in sulfur. The cabbage, beets and potatoes that are staples of the Icelandic diet are likely providing far more sulfur to Icelanders than their counterparts in the American diet provide.


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