SAMe improves depression

SAMe improves depression

Life Extension Update

Tuesday, June 16, 2015. Research described in the April 2015 issue of Advances in Integrative Medicine revealed that the addition of the nutritional supplement S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)-therapy improved symptoms in adults who failed to optimally respond to drugs.

"Pharmacotherapy achieves acceptable results for about 30% of patients, mixed results for 40% and poor results for 30% of patients," write authors Matthew Bambling of Australia's University of Queensland and colleagues in their introduction to the article. "As a result of poor or variable response to treatment, a significant proportion of depressed patients may not experience complete clinical remission of their depression. Treatment response is complicated further by poor patient tolerability of medications due to unwanted side effects."

Acting on the positive findings of a clinical trial that involved the use of high dose SAMe in depressed serotonin-reuptake inhibitor non-responders, Dr Bambling and associates compared the effects of adding fifteen weeks of high dose (1600 mg) and low dose (800 mg) SAMe supplementation to the regimens of 36 SSRI-treated men and women who had suboptimal treatment response. Tests administered before and after treatment evaluated depressive symptoms.

Thirty-five percent of those who completed the first study experienced improvement in mood and symptoms by the end of the trial in comparison with pretreatment measures. The researchers found that the low and high doses of SAMe were equally effective.

In their discussion of the findings, the authors note "We consider it likely that 800 mg a day of SAMe is the required therapeutic dose for treatment response". The researchers also reported that treatment with SAMe "…resulted in significant and meaningful improvements in mood and quality of life for the majority of participants."

The authors acknowledged the Life Extension Foundation® for donating the SAMe product used in the study.


What's Hot
Think D for depression
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An article published online on March 6, 2015 in Psychiatry Research reports an association between depression in young women and reduced vitamin D levels.

The current study included 185 female undergraduates residing in the Pacific Northwest during fall, winter and spring academic terms. Participants rated their depressive symptoms weekly for four weeks. Blood samples collected at the beginning and end of the study were analyzed for vitamins C and D3.

Insufficient vitamin D levels of less than 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) were detected in 42% of the women at the beginning of the study and among 46% at its conclusion. The incidence of insufficiency was 61% in non-white women, in comparison with 35% among the rest of the group.

Clinically significant depressive symptoms were reported by 34%-42% of the participants over the course of the study. Having a low initial level of vitamin D3 was a predictor of depression across all weeks of the investigation. According to authors David Kerr of Oregon State University and his associates, there was evidence that the observed reduction in depressive symptoms that occurred in the fall could be explained by increased levels of vitamin D.

"It may surprise people that so many apparently healthy young women are experiencing these health risks," Dr Kerr remarked. "Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and readily available. They certainly shouldn't be considered as alternatives to the treatments known to be effective for depression, but they are good for overall health."

"Depression has multiple, powerful causes and if vitamin D is part of the picture, it is just a small part," he noted. "But given how many people are affected by depression, any little inroad we can find could have an important impact on public health."


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Health Concern


Methylation is a process in which a molecule passes a methyl group to another molecule. Methylation is essential to multiple functions in the body, including the production of neurotransmitters. One can supply raw materials to support methylation reactions by supplementing with S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) or by providing metabolic cofactors such as folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6. These nutrients are necessary for neurotransmitter production and have other regulating effects.

SAMe, which can be found in almost every tissue in the body, assists with production of creatine, glutathione, taurine, L-carnitine, and melatonin.

Research shows SAMe can benefit depressed patients who do not respond to SSRIs. In a well-controlled, 6-week, double-blind trial, 73 subjects with treatment resistant depression were treated with an SSRI plus placebo, or an SSRI plus 1,600 mg SAMe daily. The group receiving the SAMe experienced significantly better response rates and remission compared to the placebo control group (Papakostas 2010). Intriguingly, the group that received SAMe also displayed improved memory function over those receiving placebo. A smaller 6-week study revealed a response rate of 50% and a remission rate of 43% in subjects taking 800–1,600 mg a day of SAMe as an adjunct to their antidepressants (Alpert 2004).

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