Reviewing this element in human nutrition and the important role that sulfur plays in agriculture.
In our first installment on sulfur, an essential element for all life, we discussed sulfur facts that contribute to its importance around the world. Now, let’s delve a little deeper and talk about its important to humans as well as the important role that sulfur plays in agriculture.
Sulfur in human nutrition, diet, and metabolism
On Healthy.net, Elson M. Hass, MD, shares that sulfur “is not discussed much in nutrition books, mainly because it has not been thought to be essential— that is, sulfur deficiency does not cause any visible problems.” In addition, the doctor points out a few more sulfur facts in relation to human nutrition:
- Sulfur has been known as the “beauty mineral” because it helps the complexion and skin stay clear and youthful.
- Sulfur is stored in all body cells, especially the skin, hair, and nails. Excess amounts are eliminated through the urine or in the feces.
- Sulfur is necessary for formation of collagen, the protein found in connective tissue in our bodies. Sulfur is also present in keratin, which is necessary for the maintenance of the skin, hair, and nails, helping to give strength, shape, and hardness to these protein tissues.
- Sulfur is important to cellular respiration, as it is needed in the oxidation-reduction reactions that help the cells utilize oxygen, which aids brain function and all cell activity.
- Sulfur-containing ointments are used for skin disorders such as eczema, dermatitis, and psoriasis. Joint problems may be helped by chondroitin sulfate, which is found in high amounts in the joint tissues.
The element known as the fourth major plant nutrient: The important role that sulfur plays in agriculture.
However, humans are not the only life that benefits from this element. Back to the subject of sulfur and agriculture, The Sulphur Institute states that the element is one of the 17 essential plant nutrients. “It is essential for the growth and development of all crops, without exception.” According to the TSI, the important role that sulfur plays in agriculture and plant nutrition include:
- Formation of chlorophyll, which permits photosynthesis. This is the process plants use to produce starch, sugars, oils, fats, vitamins, and other compounds.
- Protein production. Sulfur is a constituent of three sulfur-containing amino acids (cysteine, cystine, and methionine), which are the building blocks of protein. About 90 percent of plant sulfur is present in these amino acids.
- Synthesis of oils, which is why adequate sulfur is crucial for oilseeds.
- Activation of enzymes, which aid in biochemical reactions in the plant.
- Increasing crop yields and improving produce quality, both of which determine the market price a farmer would get for his produce.
- Improving protein and oil percentage in seeds, cereal quality for milling and baking, marketability of dry coconut kernel (copra), quality of tobacco, and nutritive value of forages.
- Aiding special metabolisms in plants and the structural characteristics of protoplasm.
Here at the FFAA, our members— both agricultural and allied— believe in the proper use of fertilizers and agrichemicals. We also understand that when applied using the right source, right rate, right time, and right place (see the 4Rs of nutrient stewardship), fertilizer and agrichemicals are critical to the sustainability of agriculture, our land, our planet, and feeding our growing populace.
If you would like to follow along with us as we further discuss essential elements to plant nutrition, science-based facts about fertilizer and agrichemicals, as well as the sustainability of our natural resources, we encourage you to check back on our blog, as well as follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.