SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine) is a naturally occurring compound that may fight depression and improve joint pain. The human body makes SAM-e by combining the amino acid methionine with ATP. With the help of B-vitamins, SAM-e releases the methyl group to surrounding tissues and organs which initiates over thirty-five biochemical processes.
SAM-e is best known as a natural anti-depressant. Controlled studies have demonstrated that SAM-e helps to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of depression by raising production of dopamine and serotonin. SAM-e has also been shown to be effective in reducing joint pain and slowing joint degeneration. It plays a critical role in cartilage formation, and mobility in the spine, hips and knees. The Arthritis Foundation recently endorsed the use of SAM-e for osteo-arthritis, suggesting that it may relieve pain as effectively as NSAIDs but without the side effects.
Natural production of SAM-e declines with age – children make seven times more SAM-e than adults. While there are no natural sources of SAM-e, it is available as an over-the-counter supplement in the United States.
To maintain a positive mood, it is recommended to take 400 to 600 mg early in the day. For osteoarthritis, take 400-800 mg daily. SAM-e is best absorbed on an empty stomach. Results should be evident within the first two weeks of supplementation. When taking SAM-e, it is also important to supplement your diet with a B complex containing vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and folate.
Caution: Like all anti-depressants, SAM-e can trigger mania in people with bipolar disorder. Pregnant and nursing women should also consult with a health care provider before using SAM-e.