|SAMe was first discovered in 1952 in Italy and has been commercially available to treat depression in Europe since 1976.
SAMe is short for S-adenosylmethionine (pronounced “Sammy”), a substance that occurs naturally in the body. It is the combination of one (1) essential amino acid, Methionine and ATP that plays a role in 35 – 40 biochemical reactions throughout the body.In most people, the body can make all the SAMe it needs, but some patients with depression and other conditions have been found to have lower levels of the compound as well as lower levels of Folic Acid (also known as Folate) and vitamin B12. These three (3) substances play a part in the metabolic process called “methyl donation” or “methylation”, a process in which a molecule made of one (1) carbon molecule and three (3) hydrogen atoms are attached to proteins and lipids.These methylation reactions are involved in the production of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine)in the brain and enzymes that help repair joints and the liver.
In the process of metabolizing SAMe, the independent coronary artery disease risk factor Homocysteine, which is a breakdown product of amino acid metabolism, is produced. Fortunately this Homocysteine is remethylized back into the “core” (Essential) amino acid Methionine. In this same cycle the body’s major antioxidant Glutathione is produced by means of a process known as “trans-sulphuration” and is mainly stored in the liver, hence the major antioxidant properties of SAMe.
Functions of SAMe in the body: (main)*
How does SAMe work?
In the body, SAMe is what is called a “methyl donor”. This means that when SAMe reacts with Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid (Folate), it gives away units of carbon (a methyl group) to other molecules in the body. That process is critical in the production of depression fighting brain chemicals like serotonin.
Benefits & functions of SAMe
On a cellular level, whenever a SAMe molecule looses its methyl group, it breaks down into a compound called homocysteine, which is an amino acid – a molecule with the potential to wreak cellular havoc within our bodies.
High levels of homocysteine have the same effect on LDL cholesterols as does smoking which also oxidises the LDL and thereby
With the assistance of three B-Vitamins (Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid) our bodies convert homocysteine into the
When our bodies contain sufficient stores of these three B-Vitamins, homocysteine levels are kept comfortably low – but when our bodies are depleted of those vitamins, homocysteine levels can rise quickly, stalling the production of SAMe – potentially causing cellular damage and countless health problems.
SAMe is the most active of all methyl-donors. Our bodies make it from methionine and then continually recycle it. Essentially, SAMe and homocysteine are two versions of the same molecule – one benign and one potentially dangerous when levels are too high.
We have learnt that when cells are well stocked with B-Vitamins, the brisk pace of methylation keeps homocysteine levels low.
But when we are low on those, homocysteine can build up quickly, stalling production of SAMe.
High homocysteine levels are possibly a major risk factor for heart attacks & strokes. During pregnancy it raises the risk of spina bifida and other birth defects.And many studies have implicated it in depression when levels are high and SAMe levels are low especially when the required folic acid, Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B6 are also low.
SAMe was first given to patients for use in treating depression, but when some of those patients began to report relief from osteoarhritis joint pain, researchers began to study this other possible benefit of the product.
Over 22,000 arthritis sufferers reported after only four weeks of treatment, that SAMe gave comparable results to NSAID (anti-inflammatory pain relievers) when used in higher dosages than required for treating depression ie more than 400mg per day.
2006 research ex Oxford and Rome universities predict increased cardiovascular disease risk in people using regular long term high dosages of NSAIDS.
The vital distinction is that instead of stomach-lining irritation that some NSAIDs can cause, SAMe may actually protect the stomach lining. Further more, animal studies show that SAMe could help restore damaged cartilage in addition to relieving pain.
How might taking extra SAMe improve a person’s mood?
Researchers have identified several possibilities. Normal brain functions involve the passage of chemical messengers between cells.
SAMe may enhance the impact of mood-boosting messengers such as dopamine and serotonin – either by regulating their breakdown or by speeding production of the receptor molecules they latch onto. SAMe may also make existing receptors more responsive.
These molecules float around in the outer membranes of brain cells like swimmers treading water in a pool.
If the membranes get thick and glutinous due to age and other assaults, the receptors loose their ability to move and change in response to chemical signals.
By methylating fats called phospolipids, SAMe keeps the membranes fluid and the receptors mobile.
Methylation reactions occur a vast number of times a second throughout our bodies. SAMe fuels these reactions by giving up its “methyl group.”KEY: C = Carbon H = Hydrogen N = Nitrogen O = Oxygen S = Sulfur
|The three primary reactions of SAMe in the body||The main metabolic pathways involving SAMe|