A little known compound called methylsulfonylmethane can have a profound effect on your health. Because MSM contains sulfur, which is one of the basic elements of life, it is used for the proper functioning of proteins. If the proteins in your body are not functioning as they should, several of your body's systems are affected negatively.
Methylsulfonylmethane is an organic compound containing sulfur found naturally in many of the foods you eat. This compound has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, although most of the research has been conducted in vitro, meaning in an artificial environment outside of the body. Because of its ability to work as an anti-inflammatory agent and as an antioxidant, MSM can be used in the relief of conditions such as osteoarthritis, inflammation of the eye and mucus membranes, allergies, cardiovascular issues such as hypertension and poor circulation, headaches and migraines.
Foods Containing MSM
Several of the foods in your current diet contain MSM. Rich sources of MSM include cow's milk, coffee, tomatoes, tea, Swiss chard, beer, alfalfa sprouts and corn. It also is found in fruits such as apples and raspberries, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Processing foods decreases the amount of MSM found in the food, so fresh, raw foods are your best source of this compound.
There is no recommended intake of MSM set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It is suggested that individuals take in 2,000 to 2,500 micrograms daily. By eating fresh, raw plant-based foods or consuming cow's milk, you should be able to meet this amount daily. There are few known side effects of taking MSM in supplement form, although more research needs to be conducted. Some reported side effects include gastrointestinal upset such as nausea and diarrhea, headache or itching.
Foods Versus Supplements
Most health care professionals suggest that obtaining nutrients or beneficial compounds is best accomplished by eating fresh foods. Supplementation could be considered if your diet does not contain enough of the recommended amounts of foods containing MSM. If you are considering supplementation, it is always best to speak with your physician prior to starting, especially if you are pregnant or lactating.
Dr. Brandy Ferrara is a Doctor of Chiropractic who has taught college level nutrition since 2010. As a chiropractic intern, she treated patients using nutrition-centered, holistic care. In 2009, she graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a Master of Science in nutrition.