Sulfation-Another Liver Function

Sulfate is a major pathway in the body that is essential for many biological processes.  For example, sulfate is needed to start the cascade of digestive enzymes from the pancreas.  Without protease, lipase and amylase, food is not digested efficiently. Biochemical sulfation is a phase II enzyme reaction in the liver effective in rendering manmade (xenobiotic) pharmacological drugs and toxic substances less active.  Sometimes the pathway of phase I is imbalanced with phase II and can actually cause these same substances to be more active.  Sulfation is the derivative of the target  amino acid tyrosine.   

Many people will state they are allergic to sulfate when they mean they had a reaction to a sulfa medication, a phamaceutical drug classification for sulfonamides.  Sulfonamides are antibacterial medications that prevent the growth of the bacteria by disrupting the metabolism.   

Sulfate is needed for formation of proteins in joints.  Low levels of sulfate are found in plasma and synovial fluid in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. 

Sulfate is essential in forming the mucin proteins which line the gut walls.  These have two main functions–they stop the gut contents from sticking and they block transport of toxins from the gut to the bloodstream.  Low plasma sulfate is found in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.  Irritable bowel syndrome is identified with symptoms that may include constipation, diarrhea, alternating bowel habit, abdominal bloating and pain, and flatulence.  

Sulfate is necessary for formation of brain tissue.  Before birth, the functional units of the brain, neurons, are laid down on a scaffolding network of sulfated carbohydrate chains.  Reduced sulfation can leand to faulty neuronal connections and later dysfunction. 

Sulfate is not easily absorbed across the gut wall.  Recent research has shown that it can be absorbed across the skin.  It is also formed in the body by oxidation of the amino acids cysteine and methionine.  This pathway is often suboptimal and many people benefit from sulfate supplementation.   

A comprehensive detoxification test that demonstrates the liver’s health regarding detoxification is available to help identify the efficiency of the process of phase I and phase II detoxification.  The advantages of properly identifying the balance of the detoxification system are you can support it nutritionally and identify areas of concern such as amino acid deficiency, heavy metal burden, and also pesticide toxicity.    One should not indescriminately add tyrosine supplementation into their regimen as it can produce unintended consequences since it is also a target amino acid for the cascade of neurotransmitters called catecholamines.

Today’s Quote:  ” If you ask me anything I don’t know, I’m not going to answer.”  Yogi Berra


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