Last updated: August 24, 2021

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Many of us take various food supplements every day to provide our bodies with vitamins or other important substances. S-adenosylmethionine is an amino acid that is considered by some to be a food supplement, but by others to be a medicine.

We provide you with important information about the different types, as well as the factors you should consider before buying. With the help of our test article, you should be able to find the right S-adenosylmethionine supplement for you.




Summary

  • S-adenosylmethionine is an essential human amino acid, more precisely the metabolically active form of methionine. SAM is involved in about 35 chemical reactions in the body.
  • S-adenosylmethionine can help in the therapy or alleviate symptoms of various diseases and symptoms. For example, SAM is used for liver diseases and depression.
  • Research on individual diseases and the connection with S-adenosylmethionine has not yet been completed, which is why SAM may be used for other diseases in the future.

The Best S-Adenosylmethionine: Our Picks

According to our research, the following products are the most popular SAM supplements among customers. Since S-adenosylmethionine is not available for purchase as a sole raw material, we suggest methionine supplements here. You can find out more about the importance of methionine in connection with SAM in the guide.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying S-adenosylmethionine

Before buying S-adenosylmethionine, you should acquire some background information. We have summarised this information in the following paragraphs.

What is S-adenosylmethionine?

S-adenosylmethionine is a key product of the amino acid methionine. Also known as SAM or SAMe, the chemical formula of the key product is C15 H22 N6 O5 S, which is the result of a reaction with adenosine triphosphate.

S-adenosylmethionine describes the metabolically active form of methionine. Methionine is an amino acid, also called sulphuric acid. Methionine is a sulphuric acid that is essential. This means that the body needs this amino acid but cannot produce it itself.

S-Adenosylmethionin-1

Many people still know the amino acid circle from school. Methionine is also represented here.
(Image source: pixabay.com/OpenClipart-Vectors)

Besides the amino acid cytsein, methionine is the only other sulphuric acid that is proteinogenic. Proteinogenic amino acids are used in the formation of proteins. Proteinogenic sulphuric acids are particularly used in the translation of genetic information.

Furthermore, SAM is a co-enzyme: The reaction of lipids (fatty substances) and neurotransmitters cannot take place completely without S-adenosylmethionine as a co-enzyme. In total, there are around 35 chemical reactions within the body and metabolism in which S-adenosylmethionine is proven to be involved.

In addition, S-adenosylmethionine is involved in transmethylation in metabolism. Transmethylation describes the important step in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters such as adrenaline.

How does S-adenosylmethionine work?

The effects of S-adenosylmethionine are versatile. Among others, verifiable effects are recorded for the following clinical pictures and symptoms:

  • Alzheimer's disease / dementia
  • Anxiety
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression
  • Liver diseases
  • Nervous diseases caused by HIV / AIDS

In the following, we would like to give you an overview of the effects of S-adenosylmethionine on the various clinical pictures or symptoms, so that you can search specifically.

Alzheimer's disease/ dementia

Alzheimer's is a neurodegnerative disease that often occurs in people older than 65 years. The cause of this disease has not yet been conclusively explained. There are various theories, but individual scientists do not agree on them.

An increased plasma homocysteine level can be described as an independent risk factor for Alzheimer's disease. In various studies, the concentration of various enzymes was measured in those affected. In 2012, Karger came to the conclusion that Alzheimer's patients have a significantly lower level of SAM than healthy people. (1)

Anxiety

One of the main functions of S-adenosylmethionine is the production of adrenaline. Adrenalin puts the human body on alert. In the case of an anxiety disorder, this level is usually higher than in normal cases. SAM causes a better regulation between neurotransmitters and hormones and can thus have a stress-relieving and anxiety-relieving effect.

Several studies have come to the conclusion that S-adenosylmethionine will be an important component of anxiety therapy in the future. However, some doctors are already using SAM therapy, which has an advantage over conventional drugs because it is easier on the stomach. (2)

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative wear and tear of the joints that occurs especially in older people. However, younger people can also tend to suffer from arthrosis, for example due to excessive strain on the joints, e.g. as a result of being very overweight, or due to congenital joint malpositions.

Treatment with SAM not only combats the symptoms of arthrosis, such as load-dependent pain, but also treats the cause by preventing and even stopping cartilage degradation. S-adenoylmethionine is significantly involved in the proliferation of proteoglycans.

If the body breaks down proteoglycans, the cartilage disappears, which is part of the clinical picture of arthrosis. To stop this degradation, SAM blocks the proteoglycan-degrading enzymes so that the symptoms and pain are reduced. (3)

Depression

The amino acid S-adenosylmethionine has long been used in the treatment of manic depression. SAM is particularly effective compared to other drugs such as St. John's wort. Another advantage is that S-adenosylmethionine can be taken alone or in combination with other antidepressants.

Some studies show that SAM accelerates the effectiveness of other antidepressants. Nevertheless, research in the field of S-adenosylmethionine in relation to depression has not yet been completed according to current knowledge. (3)

Liver diseases

S-adenosylmethionine can also be a therapeutic approach for liver diseases, which occur particularly as a result of excessive alcohol consumption. The liver is the most important organ of human metabolism and detoxifies the body. SAM can be found in high concentrations in the liver, which is why this amino acid is considered a key metabolite for liver metabolism.

Although many factors interact in liver diseases and their therapy or healing, researchers were able to find out that SAM can be incorporated into the therapy process for chronic liver diseases.

Treatment with S-adenosylmethionine can mitigate liver damage by restoring glutathione deposits, which act as detoxification factors in the liver. (4)

Nerve diseases caused by HIV/AIDS

Several studies have independently confirmed that methionine levels were significantly lower in HIV sufferers than in healthy individuals. Methionine can thus have an effect on the degeneration of the nervous system, which is a typical clinical picture of HIV.

By taking methionine, the concentration of this amino acid can be increased, as the body converts methionine into S-adenosylmethionine. (5)

SAM bypasses B12 metabolism, which is why this amino acid can be an important methyl donor. Methyl is instrumental in the restoration and control of nerve fibres.(6)

When and for whom is an S-adenosylmethionine supplement useful?

If you have any of the diseases or symptoms mentioned above, S-adenosylmethionine can help you. However, you should not dose or determine the intake of medicines or other supplements yourself.

Especially if you are already ill, you should always discuss changes in medication with your doctor.

Even if the active ingredient is freely available on the internet in various forms, as described below, you should also consider the side effects that any intake of supplements can bring with it.

You should also read the package leaflet: Depending on other active ingredients, certain groups of people, such as young children, may not be allowed to take some medicines.

Do not take S-adenosylmethionine if you have an allergy to methionine analgoa. You should also be careful if you have Parkinson's disease or bipolar disorder.

How can I measure my S-adenosylmethionine level in the body?

According to the current state of research, there is no precise single procedure to determine the exact level of S-adenosylmethionine in the blood. Although there is no separate procedure, you can have your doctor determine the histamine blood level, which can also be used to analyse amino acids.

To break down histamine, the body relies on SAM, which is needed to methylate HMNT. However, only about 70% are degraded via HMNT and thus indirectly via S-adenosylmethionine, while the other 30% are metabolised by the enzyme DAO. Thus, the histamine value is not entirely clear as far as the SAM level is concerned. However, as a rule of thumb, if the histamine level is low, the methylation is good. Likewise vice versa.

What are the possible side effects of taking S-adenosylmethionine?

According to the current state of research, not all possible side effects of supplements with S-adenosylmethionine have been researched or proven. Since SAM is usually taken orally, the following side effects have been recorded so far:

  • Headaches, dizziness
  • Dry mouth, constant thirst
  • Nervousness, restlessness, irritability, less energy
  • Stomach upsets, diarrhoea, constipation
  • (Night) sweats, insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Hair loss, tremors
  • Low blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety (in patients with depression)

What is the alternative to S-adenosylmethionine?

There is no 100% suitable alternative to S-adenosylmethionine that covers all of the approximately 35 chemical reactions within the human body.

However, for some diseases there are valuable alternatives, some of which are also recognised by classical orthodox medicine.

  • Anxiety: For regularly recurring anxiety, there are now some alternative methods far removed from conventional medicine to alleviate these conditions. The best known is valerian, which contains the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine lowers high blood pressure and thus the fast heart rate. These two characteristics (high blood pressure and fast heart rate) are typical signs of anxiety.
  • Depression: Many doctors and therapists nowadays resort to St. John's wort, a natural raw material. However, it can take some time for St. John's wort to work in the body. In this case, faster results are seen with SAM.
  • Liver disease (liver weakness): In the case of liver weakness, proponents of alternative medicine like to resort to dietary changes as well as to the natural active ingredient milk thistle. Milk thistle is available both as drops and in capsule form and has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Decision: What types of S-adenosylmethionine are there and which is right for you?

If you want to take S-adenosylmethionine, you can do so orally in most cases. There are two different ways you can take SAM:

  • S-adenosylmethionine in powder form
  • S-adenosylmethionine in capsule or tablet form
  • S-adenosylmethionine as an injection

Below we explain the different types and their characteristics. This will help you find the best S-adenosylmethionine supplement for you.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of S-adenosylmethionine powder?

One way to take S-adenosylmethionine is in powder form. The powder is white or light yellowish crystalline and can be ordered in different quantities.

If you have a fine cart in the milligram range, you can determine the intake of S-adenosylmethionine very precisely. You also don't have to swallow large, often bulky tablets, but can conveniently mix your SAM powder into your food.

Advantages
  • Precisely determinable
  • Can be mixed into food
Disadvantages
  • Cumbersome to handle
  • Can't be taken everywhere

What are the advantages and disadvantages of S-adenosylmethionine capsules or tablets?

A second option for additional or supportive SAM supply is to take capsules. Most products are available in this form.

Here, the powder is packed in a, often vegan, shell made of plant substances and can be taken with a sip of water. A clear advantage is that the powder can also be taken easily on the go.

S-Adenosylmethionin-2

Most supplements with S-adenosylmethionine are available in capsule form. This often makes taking the active ingredients easy and not very complicated. However, some people have difficulty swallowing larger tablets.
(Image source: pixabay.com/ Frauke Feind)

Although this form of presentation seems less cumbersome at first glance, many people, regardless of age, have problems taking capsules or tablets because many capsules are often bulky and not comfortable to swallow.

Advantages
  • Easy to handle
  • Can be taken anywhere
  • No weighing necessary
Disadvantages
  • Can be difficult to take
  • Cannot be measured precisely

What are the advantages and disadvantages of S-adenosylmethionine injections?

Another way to take SAM is to have it injected regularly by a doctor or health professional. You will need to visit your doctor for an injection at regular intervals, which may vary depending on your condition and treatment plan.

Some patients prefer this method to capsules and powders because they do not have to remember to take S-adenosylmethionine themselves several times a day.

S-Adenosylmethionin-3

One patient finds an injection with S-adenosylmethionine relaxing because they do not have to think about taking SAM on their own several times a day.
(Image source: unsplash.com / hyttalosouza)

Nevertheless, the injection method is not suitable for every disease. In some cases, medical research has not yet reached this stage. In addition, you should not use injections if you have a syringe or needle phobia.

Advantages
  • No self-administration
  • Close medical supervision during administration
Disadvantages
  • Elaborate
  • Not for people with needle phobia

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate S-adenosylmethionine on the basis of these factors

Supplements with S-adenosylmethionine are available in a wide variety of versions. You can distinguish between the individual product variants using the following criteria:

The following paragraphs explain what is important in the individual criteria.

Dosage

The dosage of S-adenosylmethionine depends on the duration of the intake, as well as on the disease or the symptoms to be treated. On average, 600-1200mg are taken daily with meals during SAM treatment.

The Natural Medicines Database has published the following dosage values based on some studies:

Disease Dosage Duration of use
Depression 800-1200mg Max. 6 weeks
Liver disease 400-1200mg Max. 24 weeks
Nerve disease 800-1600mg Max. 6 weeks

(7)

The Whole Health Chicago Center has also established the following values for the oral intake of S-adenosylmethionine:

Disease Dosage Frequency of use
Anxiety 400-800mg 2x daily on an empty stomach

(8)

Intravenous injections are a common treatment method, especially for depression and arthritis. The following dosage values apply here:

Disorder Dosage Duration of use
Osteoarthritis 400mg Daily for 5 days
Depression 400-800mg 2-4 weeks

(9)

Stockpile

Depending on the type of product or form of presentation of S-adenosylmethionine you have chosen, the storage options are also different. The tendency for many products is: The more, the cheaper.

This rough rule of thumb can also be applied to S-adenosylmethionine. The larger the package you buy, the less often you have to reorder or buy more.

Here is a small example: If you assume a pack size of 60 capsules with 200mg of SAM active ingredient each and you have to take the tablets 3 times a day, one pack is enough for 20 days. If you have a nerve disease, you need to take SAM for up to 6 weeks, and if you have a liver disease, you need to take it for up to 24 weeks.

Combination with other amino acids

Most S-adenosylmethionine supplements are combination products consisting of all 18 amino acids including the 8 essential amino acids.

There are also specific supplements that contain only the 8 essential amino acids. The 8 essential amino acids include:

  • Valine
  • Methionine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tryptophan
  • Threonine
  • Lysine

Suitable for vegans

As more and more people are going vegan, pharmaceutical companies have also had to adapt to this lifestyle. Many capsule shells of various medicines or food supplements are now made of cellulose.

In the case of S-adenosylmethionine, some capsule shells are also made of cellulose. Cellulose is a purely vegetable cellulose, so it is guaranteed vegan and therefore tasteless. In the pure powder form, you can assume that S-adenosylmethionine powder is vegan. Injections are also suitable for vegans.

Trivia: Facts worth knowing about S-adenosylmethionine

Now that you have gathered enough information about S-adenosylmethionine, we would like to conclude by giving you a few more facts.

How, when and for how long do I take S-adenosylmethionine?

  • How: Most medicines containing S-adenosylmethionine are taken orally either in powder form mixed with food or in the form of a capsule or tablet with meals.
  • When: Take SAM in consultation with your doctor if he or she prescribes S-adenosylmethionine therapy.
  • How long: The length of time you take SAM depends on the disease and the dosage. The maximum duration is about 24 weeks for liver disease.

As S-adenosylmethionine is a drug or food supplement with considerable side effects, you should never decide to start SAM therapy on your own.

What is the shelf life of S-adenosylmethionine supplements?

Most supplements containing SAM have an unopened shelf life of about 12-24 months. The exact information varies between the different manufacturers and producers.

Once a supplement has been opened, it usually has a shelf life of about 3-6 months if stored correctly. Again, we can't say exactly, as this information varies between manufacturers.

It is best to check the specific package insert of your SAM supplement. There you will find the specific information that applies to your product.

How do I store S-adenosylmethionine products properly?

Like most other medicines, S-adenosylmethionine should be stored in a dry, relatively cool place away from light.

The Federal Ministry of Health generally prescribes the following storage conditions for medicines:

  • If possible, keep the original packaging and the package leaflet. You should also keep the outer packaging, as it protects your medicine from light.
  • The following temperature ranges apply for storage: room temperature (approx. 15-25°C), in the refrigerator (approx. 2-8°C) or frozen (approx. -18°C or colder).
  • Never expose your medicines to high heat or direct sunlight.
  • Also, do not store your medicines in the bathroom, where the temperature and humidity can vary too much.
  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children!

In which foods does S-adenosylmethionine occur naturally?

S-adenosylmethionine itself does not occur naturally in food as the sole carrier. However, since SAM is a part of methionine, you can naturally influence your SAM level by taking methionine.

Methionine is found mainly in green vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green peas and bean sprouts.

S-Adenosylmethionin-4

Methionine occurs naturally in green vegetables such as broccoli, so by eating these vegetables you can regulate your methionine intake yourself and naturally.
(Image source: unsplash.com / leilaniangel)

This means that vegans and vegetarians can also naturally increase their methionine levels in the blood.

Methionine is also found in egg yolk, fish, poultry, liver, meat, cheese and yoghurt.

Image source: Trojanowski/ 123rf.com

References (9)

1. Increased plasma homocysteine levels have been described as an independent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the underlying pathophysiology is unclear. Plasma levels of vitamin B12, SAM etc. were measured.
Source

2. Depression is a recurrent illness with high rates of chronicity, treatment‐resistance and significant economic impact. There is evidence in the literature that S‐adenosyl-methionine has antidepressant efficacy.
Source

3. SAMe is essential to healthy activity in all human cells and plays a central role in hundreds of metabolic reactions. It is even involved in the production of glucosamine, which researchers believe helps make SAMe beneficial to joint function. SAMe also helps the body produce brain chemicals which help promote an energetic outlook on life and relieve depression.
Source

4. An analysis of the adverse events and long-term prognosis also indicated no significant differences between the SAMe and the placebo groups. In a subgroup analysis of gravidas and children, several of the included data indicated that there was a significant difference in the pruritus score. Furthermore, the results regarding ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and stronger neo-minophagen C (SNMC) indicated that both treatments were more effective than SAMe was in certain chronic liver diseases.
Source

5. Decades of research on the biochemical and molecular roles of SAMe in cellular metabolism have provided an extensive foundation for its use in clinical studies, including those on depression, dementia, vacuolar myelopathy, liver disease, and osteoarthritis
Source

6. This study reports on clinical data from an 8-week open-label study of 20 HIV-seropositive individuals, diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (DSM-IV), who were treated with SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine). SAM-e may be a treatment alternative for the management of depression in a population reluctant to add another "pill".
Source

7. According to research and user reviews, SAM-e is generally well tolerated, but some people may experience gastrointestinal distress, nausea, headache or nervousness at high doses.
Source

8. The body manufactures SAMe from methionine, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-producing compound found in all the body’s cells.
Source

9. SAMe is involved in the formation, activation, or breakdown of other chemicals in the body, including hormones, proteins, phospholipids, and certain drugs.
Source

Why you can trust me?

S-Adenosylmethionine Is Decreased for Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease
Increased plasma homocysteine levels have been described as an independent risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), but the underlying pathophysiology is unclear. Plasma levels of vitamin B12, SAM etc. were measured.
Go to source
S‐adenosyl-methionine for depression in adults
Depression is a recurrent illness with high rates of chronicity, treatment‐resistance and significant economic impact. There is evidence in the literature that S‐adenosyl-methionine has antidepressant efficacy.
Go to source
All About SAMe!
SAMe is essential to healthy activity in all human cells and plays a central role in hundreds of metabolic reactions. It is even involved in the production of glucosamine, which researchers believe helps make SAMe beneficial to joint function. SAMe also helps the body produce brain chemicals which help promote an energetic outlook on life and relieve depression.
Go to source
S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine for the Treatment of Chronic Liver Disease
An analysis of the adverse events and long-term prognosis also indicated no significant differences between the SAMe and the placebo groups. In a subgroup analysis of gravidas and children, several of the included data indicated that there was a significant difference in the pruritus score. Furthermore, the results regarding ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and stronger neo-minophagen C (SNMC) indicated that both treatments were more effective than SAMe was in certain chronic liver diseases.
Go to source
S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe): from the bench to the bedside—molecular basis of a pleiotrophic molecule
Decades of research on the biochemical and molecular roles of SAMe in cellular metabolism have provided an extensive foundation for its use in clinical studies, including those on depression, dementia, vacuolar myelopathy, liver disease, and osteoarthritis
Go to source
S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e) for the treatment of depression in people living with HIV/AIDS
This study reports on clinical data from an 8-week open-label study of 20 HIV-seropositive individuals, diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder (DSM-IV), who were treated with SAM-e (S-Adenosylmethionine). SAM-e may be a treatment alternative for the management of depression in a population reluctant to add another "pill".
Go to source
SAM-e Side Effects, Contraindications and Drug Interactions
According to research and user reviews, SAM-e is generally well tolerated, but some people may experience gastrointestinal distress, nausea, headache or nervousness at high doses.
Go to source
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)
The body manufactures SAMe from methionine, an amino acid found in protein-rich foods, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), an energy-producing compound found in all the body’s cells.
Go to source
SAMe: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosing
SAMe is involved in the formation, activation, or breakdown of other chemicals in the body, including hormones, proteins, phospholipids, and certain drugs.
Go to source
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