What is MSM?
MSM is short for Methylsulfonylmethane, which is the scientific name for an important form of organic sulfur. When most people hear of sulfur, they think of volcanoes or the smell of thermal hot springs. So many people are surprised to learn that sulfur is the fourth most common mineral in our bodies. Check out the History of MSM. Sulfur is a nonmetallic element that is abundant throughout nature and frequently bonds with other elements, forming many different compounds, including several forms of organic sulfur that are essential nutrients for all forms of plant and animal life. Pure sulfur takes the form of a bright yellow crystal or rock. However, because it bonds so easily to other elements, taking pure sulfur as a dietary supplement isn’t advisable. Instead it’s important to take a sulfur supplement that your body will be able to digest or your skin will be able to absorb.
MSM is one such supplement. MSM, also sometimes referred to as dimethyl sulfone (DMSO2) and methyl sulfone, is sulfur that has bonded with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules ((CH3)2SO2), forming an inert white crystalline compound that is easily digested or absorbed through the skin. MSM, which is 34% sulfur, is bioavailable, which means that it can be easily assimilated into the body. You can get MSM in small quantities by eating foods like chard, milk, tomatoes–even coffee or beer! However, while a diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables will increase your natural MSM intake, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to get enough MSM for optimal health from food alone. Processing also reduces MSM levels from natural sources, so many people with modern diets heavy in processed foods (like pasta or bread) get even less MSM than our ancestors did. This is why taking MSM in supplemental form is so important and beneficial.
Why do we need minerals in our body?
The four most common minerals in your body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and sulfur. Most people are aware of the importance of calcium and potassium. Calcium keeps our bones strong and helps prevent osteoporosis, while potassium is needed to make our muscles contract and is important for offsetting the negative effects of a sodium-rich diet. But do you know what the other two minerals are for? The second most common mineral in the human body is phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential, but it’s also already abundant in your diet, much like sodium (salt). Most people don’t need to worry about getting enough phosphorus; it’s actually more common to have too much phosphorus in your diet than it is to have too little.
So what about sulfur?
The fourth most common mineral in your body is sulfur. (Remember that when we refer to sulfur as a nutrient, we’re really talking about digestible organic sulfur, which comes in several different compounds, one of which is MSM.) We have more sulfur in our bodies than sodium. Like calcium and potassium, and unlike phosphorus and sodium, most people get less sulfur in their diets than their bodies could use, making supplements of these minerals beneficial. But unlike calcium and potassium, which can be harmful in excess, it is incredibly difficult to take too much sulfur. “Overdosing” on a sulfur supplement like MSM generally only results in temporary and minor consequences, like short-term flatulence. That’s why it is generally considered safe to take several times the recommended dose of MSM (though it is important to start with the recommended dose and work your way up to larger quantities over the course of a few weeks. As always, it is wise to check with your doctor if you are currently taking blood thinners, as MSM is a very mild blood thinner as well. However, it’s only safe to take large doses of MSM if you are sure that the MSM you are taking is exceptionally pure, and not a vehicle for harmful heavy metals or contaminants. That’s why buying the right MSM is so important. Read about the Benefits of MSM.
Why OptiMSM is the best form of MSM for your health
In nature, bioavailable MSM starts out as a sulfur compound that is secreted by plankton. The sulfur bonds to oxygen to form sulfur dioxide, and hitches a ride from the ocean into the atmosphere on evaporating water molecules. There, with the help of ultraviolet light, it bonds again with two methyl groups to form MSM, undergoing a natural distilling process. The finished MSM then falls to the earth with rain and is absorbed by plants, which concentrate it in their cells. Animals, including people, get natural MSM by eating these plants–but never as much as we could use. MSM in nature is scarce, measured in just several parts per million in its most common sources. You can’t extract, isolate, or grow MSM from natural sources. Therefore, all commercial MSM supplements are synthetic compounds made with chemical reactions. But not all synthetic MSM is created equally!
Making MSM is relatively simple–most undergraduate chemistry students could cook it with little difficulty using simple lab equipment. What is extremely difficult is making pure MSM. Because sulfur bonds so easily with so many different elements, any impurities in the equipment or ingredients can become mixed in with the final product if the process is not done exactly right. Also, while MSM can be made more cheaply and easily by crystallization, this process is prone to capturing contaminates that dilute the final product and can have a harmful effect on consumers. Read more about Distilled vs. Crystallized MSM.
Our MSM is referred to as OptiMSM and created by a company called Bergstrom Nutrition. To avoid impurities, Bergstrom uses a one-of-a-kind production method that does not rely on crystallization. Instead, Bergstrom mimics the way that MSM bonds in the atmosphere by using a multi-stage distillation process is similar to the natural MSM production cycle. The result is OptiMSM which is biomimetic, meaning it is exactly the same as MSM that is found in nature. Bergstrom’s single-purpose facility only makes OptiMSM, meaning that manufacturing pure, unadulterated MSM is the sole focus of every technician who works there. Because OptiMSM is made with a proprietary multi-stage distillation process instead of crystallization, it is the purest, safest, and most consistent MSM in the world. After production, every batch is third-party tested to ensure it meets Bergstrom’s high standards for purity.
Cheaper MSM, which is frequently made in China using inexpensive crystallization methods, almost always contains unwanted extras, including heavy metals, residual water, and environmental contaminants like pesticides and other pollutants. The next time you pick up an MSM bottle, look at the source. If its ingredients come from China, put it down. No facility in China makes MSM with anything even approaching the purity and quality controls of OptiMSM, which is made by Bergstrom Nutrition in its dedicated, GMP-compliant, ISO 9001:2008 registered and FSSC22000 certified production facility in Vancouver, Washington, USA. Bergstrom’s proprietary multi-stage distillation process uses more energy and is more expensive than crystallization. Also, Chinese facilities do not have to abide by the same regulatory standards for hygiene or scientific protocols, and save money on labor and packaging costs. But with MSM, you truly get what you pay for. The difference in quality between OptiMSM distilled and packaged in the United States vs. MSM made in China is considerable. If you take contaminated MSM, you risk inadvertently absorbing heavy metals and other pollutants, and could even do yourself more harm than good. Though many Chinese made MSM products will say that they are “100% pure,” it’s important, as with any supplement, to always do your research and make sure that what you’re taking is what it says it is, and to buy from brands with a reputation for quality, like Kala Health.
The Kala Health Pledge for Quality
Here at Kala Health, we make it our business to offer the purest and best supplements available. There will always be cheaper, lower quality products on the market, but our customers keep coming back to us because of the high quality we offer. For over twenty years, we have carefully cultivated our reputation for delivering only the highest quality dietary supplements available on the market. Our entire business model rests on this reputation. That’s why all of our OptiMSM products are made by Bergstrom Nutrition. OptiMSM, and it’s animal equivalent, PurforMSM, are the purest and only GRAS-certified MSM products in the world, and they are made exclusively in the USA. When it comes to choosing a supplement for your health, we at Kala know that there are no shortcuts. We wouldn’t give a lesser MSM supplement to our families, and neither would we sell a lesser supplem