SAMe for Brain Health

24 August 2018
Michelle Haskins

Sunshine

SAM-e (S-Adenosyl Methionine, Ademethionine, Adomet) is found in almost every cell in the human body as an amino acid bound to the ATP. SAMe participates in over 35 biochemical processes in the body, and affects many aspects of our health. Our bodies synthesize SAMe in the liver, and taking SAMe supplements can help with many bodily functions.

Through a process called methylation, this molecule assists in the manufacture and breakdown of the neurotransmitter dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, melatonin, and norepinephrine in the brain. It essentially slows the breakdown of these chemicals which allows them to work longer. SAMe also speeds up the production of the receptors that receive these neurotransmitters. These extra receptors help the neurotransmitters work more productively. SAMe also plays a role in supporting immune system health and maintaining cell membranes.

There are no foods that are high in SAMe, so the body must make it in the liver from the amino acid methionine. Although methionine is found in many foods, supplementing with methionine isn’t very effective because creating SAMe takes many steps and requires multiple co-factors, like B12 and folate, for the process to be successful.

Research shows that SAMe may support healthy mood and improve cognition. It is thought to work by increasing creatine (energy) levels in parts of the brain and could improve cognition the same way creatine does. SAMe can also be helpful for the brain by boosting memory, learning, and neuroprotection by working to improve cholinergic functioning. With continued use, this action could improve functions like learning ability and memory formation, as well as support healthy brain function during normal aging.

SAMe is considered a mild nootropic with few risks, and safe at recommended doses between 800mg/day and 1600mg/day. Side effects appear to be rare because it is essentially a protein. Although, it can upset the stomach, and in one rare case study it triggered mania in a patient with bipolar disorder. Like any chemical that affects the neurotransmitter serotonin, there is a small risk of developing serotonin syndrome when supplementing with SAMe. But with recommended doses, SAMe is a safe and effective nootropic compound that can support brain health and promote overall well-being.

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