S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) is a naturally occurring compound distributed to virtually all body tissues and fluids. SAMe is normally manufactured in the liver from ATP and the essential amino acid methionine. Folic acid and vitamin B-12 play essential roles in this process.
SAMe plays many important roles throughout the body, participating in over forty essential biochemical reactions. It is involved in the production of proteins, hormones, neurotransmitters, glutathione, and many cartilage components. Supplemental SAMe (available in Europe since 1975 and introduced to the U.S. in 1997) is popular for promoting joint and liver health as well as emotional well-being.
SAMe is usually taken in doses ranging from 400 to 1,200 mg per day, and has an excellent safety record at this dosage range. Side effects, when reported, are usually limited to mild stomach upset. SAMe is not recommended for people with bipolar disorder because it may activate the manic phase. People taking medication for depression should consult their physician before taking SAMe.