S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM-e or SAMe; pronounced “sammy”) is an amino acid. It is manufactured in the brain from another amino acid, methionine. SAM-e is the most active methyl-donor in the body, meaning it donates methyl groups to other chemical compounds in your body including neurotransmitters, changing them into other compounds. SAM-e is then “recycled” through an ongoing re-methylation process.
SAM-e Improves Mood Fast
The brain of a healthy person manufactures all the S-Adenosyl Methionine it needs from methionine, but S-Adenosyl Methionine production is impaired in people who are depressed. Supplementation with SAM-e increases levels of serotonin, dopamine and phosphatides, and improves serotonin and dopamine receptor site binding.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of supplementation with SAM-e, is its rapid onset of action. SAM-e has fewer side effects and has a more rapid onset of action than tricyclics.
Important Precautionary Information About SAM-e
Interestingly, SAM-e breaks down into the potentially harmful homocysteine, which has recently made press as a substance strongly correlated with heart disease if it is left to build up within your cells. The good news is that SAM-e, which is so good for you does NOT have to turn into a toxic build-up of homocysteine. With the proper complement of B-complex vitamins (especially B-6, B-12 and folic acid, which are all methyl-donors), homocysteine is re-methylated into good old methionine (used to produce S-Adenosyl Methionine) or convert to the antioxidant glutathione (also good).
IMPORTANT: If you plan on taking SAM-e, you would be well advised to supplement with B vitamins also. This will ensure good results and prevent homocysteine build-up. One last item of note: B-complex deficiencies – by themselves – are often enough to cause low mood, giving you one more reason to supplement your B’s. And, folic acid deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world! Supplement with a B-complex, and you avoid all of these possible problems.