The Paleo Diet and Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)

Anyone that actually reads my insane ramblings on this site about the Paleo diet, might remember reading a recent article about sulfur being a possible factor contributing to heart disease and Diabetes. At the bottom of the Dr. Mercola article that I mentioned in my blog post, Dr. Mercola stated,

“As for supplements, methylsulfonylmethane, commonly known by its acronym, MSM, is an option. MSM is an organic form of sulfur and a potent antioxidant, naturally found in many plants.”

So what is MSM? Tell us Wikipedia!

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is an organosulfur compound with the formula (CH3)2SO2. It is also known by several other names including DMSO2, methyl sulfone, and dimethyl sulfone.[1] This colorless solid features the sulfonyl functional group and is considered relatively inert chemically. It occurs naturally in some primitive plants and is present in small amounts in many foods and beverages and it is marketed as a dietary supplement.”

“…it is readily available in onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables and in protein-containing foods, including nuts, seeds, milk and eggs.” –

Ok so, it’s found in multiple food items that are not only accepted by the standard Paleo diet (even the Milk as long as it’s raw milk), but some of these are generally items that are encouraged to be eaten on Paleo. Cruciferous vegetables include Paleo staples such as, broccoli, kale, bok choy, and cauliflower to name but a few, and of course eggs, which happen to be one of my favorite foods.

Because of the large amount of MSM containing foods that we eat, when we live the Paleo lifestyle, it’s probably safe to say that the average Paleo practitioner is not at a high risk of being deficient in sulfur and therefore MSM.

So what about being Paleo, supplementing and with MSM?


My view on this is that when a person is new to Paleo, and was formerly guilty of eating the massive amounts of processed carby crap that “normal” people do, there is a definite possibility that they are deficient in several key nutrients. Omega-3s, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2, Vitamin B12, magnesium, and sulfur are among the most common deficiencies. Aside from D3, the majority of these will be received in sufficient amounts, as to prevent deficiency, from everyday Paleo food. But, sometimes a deficiency requires more than just a steady flow of the lacking nutrient, to bring it up to “normal” levels, with any kind of speed. Sometimes, a deficient person needs a kick in the micronutrient-pants, to repair the deficiency.

For example, we know that vitamin D3 supports the immune system, and is increasingly being seen as a potent cancer fighter. If a person visits their doctor, and proves to be Vitamin D3 deficient, more often than not, the doctor is going to offer to give that person a booster shot to bring the patient’s D3 level back to a normal level quickly. Of course, ordinarily, this “normal” person will fail to do what is necessary to maintain an optimal level of the vitamin in their body, and they’ll be back in the same position in a short period of time.

Now, I have never heard of anyone getting their plasma sulfur level tested, but if a person has a history of eating poorly and is therefore probably deficient in sulfur, then it makes sense to me that they might supplement with some MSM. I don’t believe that it’s something that a Paleo practitioner would need to continue the MSM supplementation for life, but it seems to be a good idea in the beginning. Robb Wolf made it a practice for a long time, to advise people to take huge amounts of fish oil for a period of several weeks, to help counteract the inherent omega-6 fatty acid imbalance of the Standard American Diet, so I see no harm in supplementing with this sort of thing, at least in the beginning.

However, at the end of day, we all need to rely upon a diet of whole, real, nutritious foods to provide all the vitamins and minerals that we need for optimum health, and that my friends is the Paleo lifestyle in a nut-shell.


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Barry Cripps is a Paleo-based Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, who operates out of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

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