S-adenosylmethionine is quite a mouthful; the abbreviation SAMe (pronounced samm-ee ) is easier to say. Its chemical structure and name are derived from two materials you may have heard about already: methionine, a sulfur-containing amino acid; and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the body's main energy molecule.
SAMe was discovered in Italy in 1952. It was first investigated as a treatment for depression, but along the way it was accidentally noted to improve arthritis symptoms—a kind of positive side effect.
Unfortunately, SAMe is an extraordinarily expensive supplement at present. Full dosages can easily cost more than $200 per month.
The body makes all the SAMe it needs, so there is no dietary requirement. However, deficiencies in methionine , folate , or vitamin B 12 can reduce SAMe levels. SAMe is not found in appreciable quantities in foods, so it must be taken as a supplement.
It's been suggested that the supplement trimethylglycine (TMG) might indirectly increase SAMe levels and provide similar benefits, but this effect has not been proven.
A typical full dosage of SAMe is 400 mg taken 3 to 4 times per day. If this dosage works for you, take it for a few weeks and then try reducing the dosage. As little as 200 mg twice daily may suffice to keep you feeling better once the full dosage has "broken through" the symptoms.
However, some people develop mild stomach distress if they start full dosages of SAMe at once. To get around this, you may need to start low and work up to the full dosage gradually.
Recently, SAMe has come on the US market at a recommended dosage of 200 mg twice daily. This dosage labeling makes SAMe appear more affordable (if you're only taking 400 mg per day, you'll spend only about a third or a fourth of what you'd pay for the proper dosage), but it is unlikely that SAMe will actually work when taken at such a low dosage.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for S-Adenosylmethionine?
Similarly long-lasting results have been seen with glucosamine and chondroitin. This pattern of response suggests that these treatments are somehow making a deeper impact on osteoarthritis than simply relieving symptoms. However, while we have some direct evidence that glucosamine and chondroitin can slow the progression of osteoarthritis, the evidence regarding SAMe is more hypothetical.
It isn't clear whether SAMe is helping fibromyalgia through its antidepressant effects, or by some other mechanism.
Safety in young children, pregnant or nursing women, or those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.
Interactions You Should Know About
If you are taking:
- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 08/2013 -
- Update Date: 08/22/2013 -