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Produced in the liver from the amino acid methionine, SAMe is an important nutrient participating in numerous biochemical reactions such as detoxification and contributes to the levels of dopamine. Since folic acid and vitamin B12 are necessary for the synthesis of SAMe, deficiencies of these vitamins results in low concentrations of SAMe.

A deficiency of SAMe in the joints can result in the loss of integrity of cartilage and therefore SAMe is important in normal joint function. Supplements of SAMe have been found be helpful in osteoarthritis , depression and certain liver disorders.

SAMe encourages bile flow for the digestion of fat and also functions in the liver to inactivate estrogens from causing liver damage.

SAMe is also required in the manufacture of all sulfur-containing compounds in the human body, including glutathione and various sulfur-containing cartilage components. The beneficial effects of SAMe supplementation are far-reaching because of its central role in so many metabolic processes.

Method of Action

SAMe functions closely with folic acid and vitamin B12 in "methylation" reactions-the process of adding a single carbon unit to another molecule. SAMe is many times more effective in transferring methyl groups than other methyl donors. Methylation reactions are critical in the manufacture of many body components, especially brain chemicals and in detoxification reactions.

SAMe increases the fluidity of brain cell membranes and can affect the way in which brain cells receive and transmit neurotransmitters. It is also known to increase levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and phosphatidylserine.

Further, it is thought that increased levels of SAMe can augment the body's ability to detoxify old neurotransmitters and enhance the rate at which new neurotransmitters bind to cell receptors

Therapeutic Approaches

A number of recent studies suggest that SAMe supplementation can be a moderately effective treatment for depression.

Several studies have demonstrated that SAMe is helpful for people with osteoarthritis, as it not only helps retard loss of integrity of cartilage but also due to its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties.

In one particular study, SAMe supplementation had some beneficial actions, such as reduced stiffness, pain and fatigue.

Toxicity Factors

While use of SAMe in trials involving thousands of subjects over two years shows that this nutrient is very well tolerated, some people may experience occasional gastrointestinal problems.

There have been some reports that SAMe could cause people with manic-depression to switch from depression to a manic episode.



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