Sulfate Sources and Functions

sulfate crystals

Sulfate Sources and Functions

All of the nutrient minerals work together to keep you healthy and feeling good. Here is a summary of the role of sulfate, a major mineral, in your good health.

What it does Forms part of protein structures; part of biotin, thiamin and insulin
Daily needs None established
Not enough Unlikely to occur except in the case of protein deficiency
Too Much No known toxicity effects
Foods Protein foods such as, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, legumes

Sulfur in foods

Sulfate is the form of the element sulfur that is found in foods. The main function of sulfate is to stabilize protein structures, but it is also an element in the B vitamins, biotin and thiamin, as well as a component of the hormone, insulin, which is secreted by the pancreas to control your blood sugar level.

Deficiency unlikely

Unless you are suffering from protein deficiency, it is unlikely that you are deficient in sulfates. Skin, nails and hair have a high sulfur content, since the sulfate is required for the rigidity of the proteins found in these areas of the body.

Fun fact about Sulfate Sources and Functions: The smell of rotten eggs that is so unpleasant is caused by the release of sulfur dioxide that is formed from the sulfate found in eggs. Sulfur is sometimes referred to as “brimstone,” and hell is often portrayed as redolent with the smell of sulfur. It is also the most distinctive smell at natural hot springs.

brown eggs

Egg Quality

What about the quality of the eggs you are eating? The shell should be thick and not break easily. If it crushes easily, the chicken that it came from was not fed a healthy diet (probably from a chicken factory). Consider buying cage-free eggs or organic eggs. The extra expense is worth it for both taste and quality.  If you buy a cage-free or organic egg and it doesn’t pass the “shell test” or taste better, consider a different brand.

Don’t shy away from brown eggs, they are just from different colored chickens!

What about Vegetarians and Vegans?

Lacto-ovo vegetarians (avoid meat but include eggs and dairy products) still can get plenty of sulfur in their diet. Even vegans (those who avoid all animal products) can get enough of this important mineral in their diet, since nuts and legumes are good sources.  

Click here to go from Healthy Eating Minerals 6 page to Vegetarian Nutrition page.