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March 27, 2019

What is SAME?

S-adenosylmethionine or SAMe is a compound that is made naturally in the body which is involved in immune function, mood regulation and metabolic reactions. It is made from methionine which is an amino acid that can be found in foods to regulate the key function of all human cells and proper bodily functions.  

In addition, SAMe is an effective supplement for arthritis since it has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects that can treat joint swelling, reduces arthritis pain, improves mobility and rebuilds cartilage. It is helpful for people who are experiencing osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic low back pain and other musculoskeletal diseases.  

According to the Arthritis Foundation, SAMe is effective like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that can reduce the pain if you are experiencing arthritis without harmful side effects. It may also help improve your joint function and bone health. 

SAMe is formed when methionine combines with ATP which is the major source of cellular energy. One of its major functions is to balance the dopamine and serotonin levels, the reason why it helps in regulating your mood and balancing your hormones. Read and discover the different health benefits you can get from SAMe supplements. 

Learn and discover what makes the SAMe special and different from other supplements in the market.


History and Origin 

The biochemical mechanisms of methylation and S-adenosylmethionine were first discovered by Italian scientist Giulio Leonardo Cantoni in 1952, the reason why he was an important figure in the field of biochemistry and the emerging field of epigenetics, which is the study of the changes in gene expression caused by DNA modifications like methylation.

During his time at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he was an Associate Professor of Pharmacology, he discovered that S-adenosylmethionine is the active coenzyme in the biological methylation reaction which is the first subject of the first Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC) Classic paper. 

Cantoni found out that there was an enzyme called methionine-activating enzyme that causes methionine’s reaction with adenosine triphosphate or ATP to make S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). He also reported in 1956 that SAMe can be found naturally in the body. SAMe has been approved as a dietary supplement in the United States in 1999, but it was already used as a prescription drug in Italy since 1979, in Spain since 1985 and Germany in 1989. 


Sources of Methionine

There are natural food sources that contain methionine which is essential for the methylation process. The methionine that was derived from dietary sources will combine with adenosine triphosphate which is also important to produce energy and form S-adenosylmethionine.

Methionine is a significant amino acid that is involved in the prevention of inflammation of the liver and the promotion of healthy cartilage and strong nails. Foods that are rich in protein are good sources of methionine such as eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Here is the list of foods that are high in methionine:

  • Brazil Nuts 1124mg (154% RDI)
  • Roast Beef 981 mg (135% RDI)
  • Parmesan Cheese 958mg (132% RDI)
  • Turkey and Chicken 925mg (127% RDI)
  • Pork Sirloin 853mg (117% RDI)
  • Fish & Shellfish 835mg (115% RDI)
  • Soybeans 534mg (73% RDI)
  • Hard Boiled Egg 392mg (54% RDI)
  • Plain Yogurt 169mg (23% RDI) 
  • White Beans 146mg (20% RDI)


Health Benefits

1. Reduces Depression and Uplifts Mood. SAMe is one of the most effective supplements for treating depression as it helps produce brain chemicals that promote a positive outlook in life. It can reduce your stress and anxiety levels. 

2. Liver Support. Has hepatoprotective effects as it helps boost liver health and treat chronic liver disease. SAMe is an essential nutrient for the liver since it can increase cellular glutathione that is crucial for the detoxification process.

3. Arthritis Relief. Research suggests that SAMe supplements can reduce pain, stiffness and swelling if you are suffering from the spine, hip and knee osteoarthritis. It can also improve your mobility and range of motion. 

4. Regulates Hormones. Regulate your hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, ephedrine and melatonin. It can help during hormonal imbalances especially in women, that can prevent mood fluctuations and irritability. 

5. Heart Health. Help improve your cardiovascular health as it is involved in the homocysteine metabolism which maintains the normal levels of homocysteine, that when elevated may seriously affect your cardiovascular health.

6. Enhances Memory. Boost your memory and prevent early signs of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease and age-related memory loss. It also helps improve your mental performance and healthy cognitive function. 

7. Aids Digestion. Compared to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, SAMe supplementation is gut-friendly for people who are taking them, since it does not irritate the gut lining and does not damage your digestive system. 

8. Improves Energy Levels. Increases production of dopamine and serotonin which is called the happy chemical that contributes to happiness and wellbeing. Dopamine is a chemical that plays an integral role in emotional responses. 

9. Boosts Immunity. Can be used for supporting proper functions of your immune system since it has antioxidant levels. It can also increase your lung immune defences, therefore reducing the risk of infection and lung injury. 

10. Detoxification Properties. Contains detoxification properties that help with the cleansing functions of the liver. It effectively removes the toxic substances in your liver that's why people who are suffering from alcoholic liver disease.


Dosage and Duration 

Remember that natural substances are not always safe and require proper usage, that is why it is important to always read the label and follow directions. Be advised that if you are in doubt or taking prescription medications, please consult your healthcare professional to avoid drug overdose and adverse side effects. 

SAMe is a prescription drug, however, a synthetic version is available as a dietary supplement. SAMe can be in the form of capsules, can be used for intravenous therapy (IV) and also through muscular injection. 

Children.  Keep out of reach of children. SAMe supplements are not advised for the paediatric population since it may cause serious side effects such as vomiting, diarrhoea, dry mouth, headache and others.  

Adult. Adults should consult their healthcare professionals regarding the right dosage for their health concerns. Here are some of the recommended dosage and duration for taking SAMe supplements:

For Osteoarthritis: The suggested dosage is 600 mg for the first two weeks and 400 mg for another 22 weeks has been reported to have shown improvement in clinical symptoms of osteoarthritis. There is also a study that suggests 1200mg for 30 days.

For Depression: Studies recommend the use of 800 to 1600 mg SAMe per day to treat and reduce anxiety and depression. The daily dosage should be divided and taken between the morning and afternoon. 

For Fibromyalgia: The recommended dosage is 800 mg per day for six weeks.

For Alcoholic Liver Disease: 1200 mg per day is the suggested dosage for six months that can enhance glutathione levels.

For Migraine: 400 to 800 mg per day in divided doses is the suggested dosage and duration.  


Precautions and Interactions

SAMe supplements are generally safe, however, it is still best to consult your healthcare provider about taking SAMe supplements. Remember that it is very important to always read the label of any products before using them. 

Children and Pregnant Women. Keep out of reach of children for it may cause serious side effects when not properly administered. Pregnant women are also advised not to take SAMe supplements without consulting their healthcare professional. Medical advice should be sought before taking these kinds of supplements. 

Antidepressant Drugs. Avoid taking SAMe supplements together with antidepressant drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors since both medications can increase serotonin, which could cause serious side effects. Do not take SAMe if you are taking medications for depression like fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline, imipramine and others.  

Bipolar Disorder and Parkinson's Disease. Avoid taking SAMe supplements if you have bipolar disorder or Parkinson's disease for it may worsen the symptoms and conditions. Consult your physician when it comes to your medications to avoid serious side effects. 

Amphetamines and Dextromethorphan. Avoid taking SAMe supplements together with amphetamines or dextromethorphan (cough suppressant) for these combinations can increase your serotonin levels that may cause serotonin syndrome. 

Narcotics and St. John's Wort. Avoid taking SAMe supplements together with St. John's Wort or narcotics such as meperidine, tramadol and other for these combinations can increase your serotonin levels that may cause serotonin syndrome. 

Surgery. Be advised that the use of SAMe should be suspended at least two weeks before major surgery. Also, you should not use SAMe supplements after surgery for it may increase bleeding and may cause adverse side effects. 

Disclaimer: The vitamin health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. VitaminsOnly strongly recommends to consult health care professionals for any questions concerning your health.


Everyday Health
Mayo Clinic
Dr. Axe

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