SAMe

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

A natural metabolite of the amino acid methionine, SAMe plays a key role in over 40 chemical reactions in the body to ensure its optimal functioning. While best known for its potential antidepressant activity, it may also help relieve joint pain, fibromyalgia, liver conditions, migraines, and even possesses some anti-aging benefits worth talking about.

Other names for SAMe

s-adenosyl-L-methionine, ademethionine, SAME-E, S-adenosylmethionine

Where to find SAMe

SAMe can be created in the liver by breaking down the amino acid methionine. Supplement forms are grown in yeast.

Note SAMe is not abundant in any food sources, but methionine is found in most protein-containing foods. Along with methionine, though, the body needs adequate amounts of folic acid and Vitamin B12 to manufacture SAMe.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use SAMe

Known for decreasing pain and inflammation in joints and muscles, SAMe has also been shown to help even severe joint damage heal. As an antidepressant, SAMe may also improve mood, combating depression.

Ways that SAMe can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Support joint health by decreasing pain, reducing inflammation, and increasing circulation
Ways that SAMe can enhance Mental Functioning:
  • Regulate mood and relieve depression by raising levels of specific brain chemicals
Ways that SAMe can enhance Longevity:
  • Fight free radicals as a necessary component of glutathione production

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of SAMe deficiency

Deficiency of SAMe has been linked to:

  • Cirrhosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Depression
Potential uses for SAMe

Research indicates that SAMe may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Bone and joint problems
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Liver disorders
  • Migraine headaches

DISCUSSION

More about SAMe

SAMe (pronounced “Sam-ee”) plays a key role in over 40 chemical reactions in the body, which can aid in optimal health. While best known for its potential antidepressant activity, it is becoming more widely recognized for its ability to help relieve joint pain, fibromyalgia, liver conditions, migraines, and even its anti-aging properties to enhance quality of life.

Brain chemistry

SAMe is a combination of the amino acid methionine and adenosyl-triphosphate and works with Vitamin B12, folic acid, and methionine as a methyl donor to create reactions in the body necessary for detoxification and the manufacture of brain chemicals, such as dopamine.

Because SAMe may raise levels and improve receptor binding of the brain chemicals dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, it appears to have powerful effects on mood regulation, showing a reduction in symptoms of depression in up to 70% of those who have tried it, often within a week of beginning supplementation.

Joint health

Many studies have shown that SAMe has positive effects when fighting pain, especially joint pain. In fact, some experts compare its effects to products such as ibuprofen and naproxen. It is also needed for the production of cartilage components necessary for strong, healthy connective tissue, appearing to help these fragile tissues heal properly.

In a study done in Germany, people suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, and spine used 600 mg of SAMe daily. By the second week of the study, researchers noted marked relief of joint pain, specifically in the morning.

In a very recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, it was concluded that SAMe is effective for relieving joint comfort.

Optimal health/anti-aging

SAMe has been used in Europe for years to fight the symptoms of fibromyalgia — showing a reduction in pain, fatigue, stiffness, and depression often associated with this condition.

SAMe is also needed to produce sulfur compounds in our bodies, such as glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant known for fighting free radicals and encouraging optimal health.

Researchers believe that because SAMe may improve bile flow and fight free radicals in the liver, it may help heal liver damage, such as that caused by cholestasis, Gilber’s syndrome, and cirrhosis. And while research is still preliminary, it has been shown to help increase sperm activity in infertile men and may also help relieve migraine headaches.

In conclusion

For the relief of joint and muscle pain, mood enhancement, and also for aiding antioxidant activity, SAMe has shown many potential benefits. Since SAMe is a fairly new nutrient to reach the American public, research is still in progress. Yet its definitive positive results in producing optimal health conditions so far have helped SAMe quickly make a name for itself as a life-enhancing supplement as well.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Between 400 and 1,600 mg per day has been found beneficial depending on symptoms:

  • For depression, 1,600 mg per day.
  • For joint pain, 800 to 1,200 mg per day.
  • For fibromyalgia or migraines, 800 mg per day.
  • For liver disorders, 1,200 mg per day.
Timing

SAMe is recommended in divided doses on an empty stomach with plenty of water (at least a full 8-oz glass).

Note

The longer SAMe is used, the greater the apparent effects. It usually imparts noticeable, positive effects after about four to six weeks of consistent use.

Synergists of SAMe

SAMe works with Vitamin B12, folic acid, and methionine for detoxification and the manufacture of brain chemicals, such as dopamine.

Safety of SAMe

Some individuals experience occasional stomach upset when supplementing with SAMe. If so, discontinue use for a short while, about a week, then resume use.

SAMe is not recommended for people with bipolar disorder because of its potential to stimulate mood changes.

Check with a nutritionally orientated practitioner if you are on antidepressants/tricyclics before supplementing with SAMe.

Toxicity of SAMe

No known toxicity.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD, “S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine for Treatment of Depression, Osteoarthritis, and Liver Disease,” Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 64. AHRQ Publication No. 02-E033.
  • Bottiglieri, T., et al., “The Clinical Potential of Ademetionine (S-Adenosylmethionine) in Neurological Disorders,” Drugs 48.2 (1994) : 137-52.
  • Chawla, R.K., et al., “Biochemistry and Pharmacology of S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine and Rationale for Its Use in Liver Disease,” Drugs 40.S3 (1990) : 98-110.
  • di Padova, C., “S-Adenosylmethionine in the Treatment of Osteoarthritis. Review of the Clinical Studies,” Am J Med 83.5A (1987) : 60-5.
  • Friedel, H.A., et al., “S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine. A Review of Its Pharmacological Properties and Therapeutic Potential in Liver Dysfunction and Affective Disorders in Relation to its Physiological Role in Cell Metabolism,” Drugs 38.3 (1989) : 389-416.
  • Giulidori, P., et al., “Pharmacokinetics of S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine in Healthy Volunteers,” Eur J Clin Pharmacol 27.1 (1984) : 119-21.
  • Kagan, B.L., et al., “Oral S-Adenosylmethionine in Depression: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial,” Am J Psychiatry 147.5 (1990) : 591-5.
  • Volkmann, H., et al., “Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Cross-Over Study of Intravenous S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine in Patients with Fibromyalgia,” Scand J Rheumatol 26.3 (1997) : 206-11.