What You Should Know About MSM and Weight Loss

Some people claim MSM or sulfur supplements can help with weight loss.
Image Credit: Eugeniusz Dudzinski/iStock/GettyImages

Methylsulfonylmethane, or MSM, is a naturally occurring sulfur compound found in certain foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains and cow's milk. As a dietary supplement, MSM powder and capsules have been studied for their effect on inflammation, immunity, allergies, skin health, muscle recovery after exercise and joint and muscle pain, including arthritis symptoms.

But what about MSM for weight loss? Does it work, and is there a correct dosage? Here's what you should know.

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Does MSM Help With Weight Loss?

There are no clinical studies on MSM and weight loss, only some testimonials from people who say they think MSM has helped them to lose weight.

MSM is most commonly used to reduce inflammation, according to a March 2017 review in ​Nutrients​. Obesity has been linked to inflammation, which is why some people think reducing inflammation may help with weight loss. However, the connection isn't totally clear, and there's no evidence that taking supplements to reduce inflammation can help you shed fat.

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There's some evidence that MSM supplements can help with muscle and joint pain, including muscle recovery after working out and the achy joints that come with arthritis, per the ​Nutrients​ review. Because of this, some people believe taking MSM can make physical activity easier, drawing a link between more exercise and weight loss. While this is a possibility, there hasn't been any research to prove this idea. And according to the Mayo Clinic, we need more evidence to really know MSM's benefits and risks.

Some research in animals suggests MSM supplements can help with obesity-related insulin resistance and high blood sugar, including an October 2016 ​Metabolism​ study done in mice. It's impossible to say whether these results would be the same in humans, though. And there's no guarantee that better controlling insulin or blood sugar would lead to weight loss.

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In short, there's just not enough research to say whether sulfur supplements like MSM have benefits for weight loss, and there's no way to know if there's a correct MSM dosage for weight loss.

What About MSM and Weight Gain?

Despite what you may read online, there's no evidence that MSM causes weight gain, although it may cause bloating, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).

Other possible side effects of MSM supplements include:

  • Fatigue and insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Itching

Warning

MSM supplements are generally considered safe, per the NLM, but not enough is known about long-term use. Talk to your doctor before taking MSM, and don't take these supplements for longer than three months at a time.

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