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Fact checked by Robert Iafelice, MS, RD, LDNFACT CHECKED
March 04, 2023
S-adenosyl L-methionine, or SAM-e, is a naturally-occurring compound in the human body that helps produce and regulate hormones, as well as maintain cell membranes. SAM-e plays a vital role in the production of chemicals that help pain, depression, osteoarthritis, liver function, and other conditions.
Since SAM-e can not be found in food, it can be beneficial to supplement with it, as only select foods will naturally boost the body’s production. In this article, we will identify the 5 best SAM-e supplements on the market today.
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Nature’s Trove SAM-e gives 400mg of SAM-e per serving for a 90-day supply. This product is extremely user-friendly, as it is certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and Kosher. People with food allergies may find this is their preferred brand. It contains no peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy, soy, wheat, yeast, fish, or any animal byproducts. Every batch is lab-tested and has an enteric coating, sealed in blister packs for maximum freshness.
It is recommended to take on an empty stomach once a day. Nature Trove suggests daily use to potentially help with enhanced mobility and flexibility, improve cartilage production, and help support overall joint health.
Doctor’s Best SAM-e states that it is proven to promote cognitive health while enhancing your mood. It also supports overall joint health, which can enhance mobility and reduce joint pain. Another major benefit of Doctor’s Best SAM-e is promoting liver health and detoxification.
This brand utilizes the highest quality Italian Solesse SAM-e for slow and targeted release, which helps absorption and improves GI tolerance. Each box contains a 60-day supply, with each serving providing 400mg of SAM-e. Also comes in a cheaper 30-day supply option.
Each bottle of NusaPure Sam-e boasts 150 capsules, containing 275mg of SAM-e per pill. The once-daily serving size of four capsules contains 1100mg of SAM-e, giving you a 37-day supply. Depending on your desired result of SAM-e, the smaller dosed capsules may more accurately help reach your goals.
This family-owned small business is all about using the highest-quality, environment-friendly ingredients.
Healthy Way Pure SAM-e 1500mg supports healthy brain function, joint health, and detoxifies the liver. This high-potency option gives customers a whopping 1500mg over three capsules per serving. Each bottle contains 180 vegetable capsules for a two-month supply.
Healthy Way suggests daily use to maintain balanced levels, restore a healthy mood, and boost antioxidants that fight harmful free radicals.
Jarrow Formulas SAM-e helps promote healthy liver functions, detoxification, joint strength, and positive brain function. This company has been delivering top formulations based on science for 45 years.
As with other SAM-e products, they recommend taking one tablet per day on an empty stomach. Improved joint health is of utmost importance to Jarrow Formulas, and SAM-e supports the production of healthy connective tissue. Jarrow is a well-known and trusted manufacturer, with their products being 3rd party tested for purity.
SAM-e is an important component in the body that is responsible for several different functions. SAM-e supplementation is primarily used to treat depression, osteoarthritis, and liver disease. It is naturally most concentrated in the brain and liver, however, some scientists believe it is as important to overall cell function as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
The three major pathways of SAM-e naturally in the body are transmethylation, transsulfuration, and transaminopropylation. Perhaps most importantly, SAM-e is necessary for the production of the body's most important antioxidant, glutathione, as well as secondary antioxidants, cysteine, and taurine.
There are multiple health benefits of taking SAM-e supplements, including helps to maintain liver health, helps maintain healthy emotions, and of course, SAM-e supplements helps replenish your SAM-e levels. Below we cover some of the better-studied benefits of SAM-e supplementation.
Osteoarthritis(OA) is the most common form of arthritis, a debilitating chronic medical condition common with old age. The most common symptoms of arthritis are pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, which often cause patients to be limited in activities and affect their daily quality of life.
One study completed was a double-blind crossover study that compared 1200mg of SAM-e with 200mg Celecoxib(Celebrex) for 16 weeks. The study wanted to evaluate if SAM-e was as effective in reducing pain associated with OA. The testing subjects were evaluated for pain, functional health, mood status, isometric joint function tests, and side effects.
The results of the study showed that while during the first month the Celecoxib was more successful at reducing pain, over time there was no significant difference between the groups. The conclusion was that SAM-e has a slower onset of action, but there was no significant difference between SAM-e and the prescription medicine Celecoxib for treating osteoarthritis.1 This shows that SAM-e can be just as good at treating osteoarthritis as prescription medicine so if you're looking for a joint support solution you might want to give SAM-e supplements a try.
One great benefit of SAM-e that users may be looking for is improved brain function and cognitive ability. In this particular study, the scientists conducted a meta-analysis on mice to evaluate cognitive ability measured by Y maze performance. For supporting evidence of improvements in cognitive ability, they also used the Morris water maze (MWM). The results of the experiments showed that mice supplemented with SAM-e had improvements in cognitive performance. The mice with SAM-e supplementation had superior cognitive performance than those without. In conclusion, the study shows that supplementing with SAM-e is effective as a cognitive enhancer.2
There have also been human studies that show similar results of SAM-e improving cognitive performance, there is just more extensive research on mice and animal studies. As a corollary to these results, SAM-e may also be useful for treating dementia patients, as it may help improve spatial memory. The reason SAM-e can be helpful in cognitive diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease is that they suspect it acts on the part of the brain that regulates gene expression of amyloid proteins.
People who experience chronic pain often find themselves reliant on powerful medications to deal with their symptoms. In recent years, there has been a strong emphasis placed on natural pain relievers as a safer alternative to opioids and other powerful drugs. Luckily, there have been studies that show SAM-e is an effective solution for a natural pain reliever.
One study tested the use of SAM-e for treatment of functional abdominal pain (FAP) in children. Functional abdominal pain is a very common functional gastrointestinal disorder (FGID) that typically is treated in children with tricyclic antidepressants. All of the participants started on a small dose of 200 mg/d of SAM-e, gradually working up to a dose of 1400 mg/d over a two-month period.
The results showed an improvement in self-reported pain during the two-month period. The research group was able to conclude that SAM-e can be effective in reducing abdominal pain in children, with minimal toxicity and side effects. It should be noted there is a need to conduct larger, placebo-controlled trials to further prove this study.3
Another one of the several different uses of SAM-e is for the treatment of asthma symptoms. One of the main causes of asthmatic airway inflammation is increased oxidative stress. SAM-e is a potent methyl donor that is known to protect against tissue breakdown and fibrosis through the modulation of oxidative stress. The researchers wanted to test if SAM-e would be helpful for airway inflammation by reducing this oxidative stress.
Using mice, they found oral use of SAM-e once daily for eight weeks had significantly less airway inflammation and fibrosis. The lung tissue of the mice showed reduced cellular oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory cytokine production. In conclusion, the SAM-e had a suppressive effect on airway inflammation and fibrosis in mice with chronic asthma through the reduction of oxidative stress. Therefore, SAM-e oral supplementation can be helpful in patients with chronic asthma.4
Now that you have learned all the great healing properties of SAM-e supplementation, you might be wondering, what are the negative side effects?
Most users of SAM-e will not experience any side effects, and when they do, they are usually minor. Side effects users might experience include nausea, upset stomach, dry mouth, gas, headache, anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia.
In rare and serious cases, sweating, dizziness, and palpitations. Large doses of SAM-e can cause mania (an abnormally elevated mood), which is why it is best to start low and gradually increase the dosage. The main concern regarding side effects is more related to people with pre-existing conditions, such as bipolar disorder, who should not take SAM-e products.
There has not been any conclusive information regarding women that are pregnant using SAM-e. Individuals that are immunocompromised should also avoid SAM-e products, as it enhances the growth of a dangerous microorganism. Side effects are more likely at higher doses, particularly jitteriness, loose bowels, and headaches. As always, it is important to contact your doctor when starting any new supplements.5
Buying supplements these days can be a real pain as there are countless options available. We cover the most important factors to consider before buying the best SAM-e supplement for your needs.
If your stomach is particularly sensitive, it's important to note the difference between an enteric-coated supplement versus a veggie capsule. Enteric-coated tablets can pass through the stomach into the small intestine before the capsule is broken down and released into the body.
Since SAM-e is proven to be more efficient at absorption in the small intestine, an enteric capsule is beneficial to maximize your dosage. You will also want to be careful if you have any allergies, as there may be fillers that can irritate certain individuals, such as mannitol.
The best dosage of SAM-e will depend on what you are seeking to gain from the compound. While there is little research regarding an ideal dose in clinical trials, the most common recommended doses are below.
As with any supplements, the products must be tested for both purity and safety. Products should be 3rd party tested to ensure transparency. This is especially important for athletes that compete at any level, as you don’t want to unknowingly take a banned substance. Legitimate companies should be using Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) certified facilities.
As we all know, it can get very expensive when dealing with your monthly supply of supplements. Cost is always an important factor to consider, especially when dealing with daily supplements like SAM-e. Many companies, such as Doctor’s Best SAM-e, have subscribe-and-save options. These monthly subscriptions are a great way to save and make sure your supplements are constantly replenished. Consider buying in bulk to save as well.
Products like SAM-e may affect people in different ways based on your composition, so reviews can be a great way to help find the best product for you. Depending on your specific need, whether it be joint health, liver detoxification, or cognitive function, you may want to lean toward a specific brand catered to that area. Figure out what your main desired goal of supplementing with SAM-e is will help identify the best brand and product for you.
The two most common uses for SAM-e supplements are depression and osteoarthritis. It is also used for pain, liver function, fibromyalgia, and anxiety, although there needs to be more research conducted.
Some believe it helps cognitive function and brain metabolism, which can be especially helpful to dementia patients. SAM-e is naturally found in almost every tissue in the body, playing an important part in the immune system, maintaining cell membranes, and helping produce and break down chemicals in the brain. This wide range of use makes SAM-e supplementation great for most healthy individuals.
SAM-e is known to work much faster than other medications, however, it is not immediate. For example, most antidepressants take around four to six weeks to have a noticeable effect, whereas SAM-e usually works within the first week. SAM-e works in about half the time that tricyclics take.
Sadly there aren't any conclusive studies on the long-term use of SAM-e, as most studies are shorter periods. One study on alcohol-related liver disease treated patients with SAM-e for two years and there were no serious side-effects.
SAM-e can’t be found in foods directly, but there are foods that can raise the human body's production of the compound. Foods that are rich in the amino acid methionine can boost the body’s production of SAM-e. People who are deficient in vitamin B12 and folate may want to consider SAM-e, as being deficient in those would mean decreased levels of SAM-e as well.
As always, it's important to consult with your doctor before starting any new supplements. Some people who should not take SAM-e include those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses. If you are taking antidepressants, antipsychotics, amphetamines, or other narcotics it is best to avoid SAM-e supplements, as they may cause undesired reactions.
SAM-e is generally not considered an energy booster, as it does not work in ways such as caffeine and other stimulants. SAM-e acts as fuel for our cells, providing energy to the most important cells in our body. Part of the cognitive properties of SAM-e may help increase energy.
It is not recommended to take this as a pre-workout, but rather on an empty stomach at the same time every day. It is not recommended to take it at night as it may cause restlessness.
Whether you are looking for joint health, liver health, improved cognitive function, or just overall well-being, supplementing with SAM-e might have a place in your diet. Some of the positive effects of SAM-e include pain, depression, osteoarthritis, liver function, cognitive performance, and several others.
Our favorite SAM-e supplement comes from Nature's Trove thanks to the formulation, dosage, effects and value.
We hope this post on the best SAM-e supplements helped you in your search. Just remember, like any supplement you might be interested in taking, it is important to talk to your doctor and do your research to find the best product for your needs.
For those who came here due to joint issues, make sure to have a read of our post that covers the Best Joint Supplements on the market.
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