How SAM-E works - What Is SAM-E?
By "donating" methyl groups, SAM-E stimulates biochemical reactions which transform these molecules into bioactive substances. For example, when methyl groups are transferred from SAM-E to certain phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine is produced. This important lipid is found in all cell membranes. It controls the pliancy of cell membranes. Stiff membranes do not transmit signals as well as pliant ones do. Thus, proper levels of phosphatidylcholine production are important. Since phosphatidylcholine ratios tend to decrease with age, the methylation that SAM-E causes may help protect and enhance cell integrity thereby preventing many of the "typical" signs of aging. This may also be an indication of how SAM-E works to alleviate depression.
SAM-E Role In The Production Of Neurotransmitters
Levels of SAM-E have also been shown to influence the body's production of melatonin, serotonin, and dopamine. These important neurotransmitters and hormones control sleep, mood and social interaction. All of which are effected by depression.
Glutathione is also found in other organs. One of glutathione's most important functions is to act as a potent free radical scavenger in the eye, where it protects against cataracts caused by UV sunlight. By providing the building blocks of glutathione, SAM-E contributes to maintenance of this important natural antioxidant.
Many of the chemicals used to induce cancer in lab animals work by inhibiting SAM-E. It is well documented that methyl deficiency produces liver cancer in rodents. Also, certain genes must be methylated in order to keep cancer from starting. After five weeks of a methyl-deficient diet, rats show cell changes.
In treating osteoarthritis, SAM-E protects both the synovial fluid and cartilage cells that are important to joint health. People suffering from osteoarthritis usually have damage to one or both of these important "joint cushions". Researchers theorize that SAM-E, like NAC, protects synovial cells by reversing glutathione depletion. It may also protect synovial cells by blocking the enzymes that degrade cartilage. In the test tube, SAM-E increases the number of chondrocytes (cartilage cells) and proteoglycans (protein). This suggests that SAM-E treatment may reverse the underlying process of osteoarthritis by stimulating cartilage to grow.
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