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Investigating S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for brain health

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SAMe is a nutritional active showing potential to help support cognitive-oriented formulations.

Globally, and particularly in the U.S., brain health is the most dynamic segment of food supplements, with Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) projecting 8.7% sales growth for brain health in 2023 in the U.S., which Euromonitor International noted accounts for 42% of global cognition-oriented supplement sales.

According to Euromonitor’s 2020 Health and Nutrition Survey, unlike other health concerns, cognitive health is a focus across generations, with particular intrigue among consumers under the age of 45, who are reporting slightly higher interest rates than older consumers.

Emphasis on improving and maintaining brain health was on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has since seen even more significant growth as consumers are facing a growing need to manage their mental health. To this end, supplements in the brain health category may be geared toward helping improve mood, sleep, relaxation, creativity, focus and other brain functions.

S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a compound produced naturally by the body with more than 100 biochemical pathways for proper brain functioning. Research has shown decreased or low SAMe levels in some biological fluids and tissues are often associated with altered body states, including depression and cognitive impairment.1 One study indicated serum and cerebrospinal fluid levels of SAMe were significantly lower in severely depressed patients compared to a neurological control group.2 A review of additional studies found the merits of SAMe as a potential adjunctive for depression.3

SAMe as dietary supplement

The diet alone cannot provide adequate quantities of SAMe, so de novo synthesis is relied on to sustain the required concentrations for optimal cognitive function. Additionally, supplementation of SAMe may result in restored SAMe levels with mood enhancer effects.4 Over the past two decades, the efficacy of SAMe in brain health has been widely evaluated. A 2017 review took into consideration 132 studies—115 clinical and 17 preclinical—and supported that oral doses of SAMe may improve mood impairment.5

SAMe has also shown to cross the blood-brain barrier in humans, suggesting it can be readily available to the brain and nervous system.2 However, SAMe is naturally sensitive to moisture and heat, requiring significant expertise concerning nutraceutical applications.

Gnosis by Lesaffre has 10 patents for the ingredient, ranging from manufacturing to stabilization to the production of innovative forms of oral dosages. SAMe is available as an ingredient or a finished product, in the form of enteric-coated tablets, through Gnosis by Lesaffre’s Adonat Premium SAMe brand.

The brain truly enables people to thrive—influencing mood and behavior, and driving learning, exploration and creativity. SAMe is a nutritional active with great potential to help make these cognitive activities even stronger.

Lorena Carboni earned her master’s degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and technology at the University of Camerino (Italy) and has more than 15 years of experience in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical industries with a background in the mood and cognitive health market segments. As a scientific communication specialist and product manager for Adonat Premium SAMe at Gnosis by Lesaffre, she specializes in the scientific, clinical and educational aspects of natural ingredients.


1 Bottiglieri T. “Folate, vitamin B12, and S-adenosylmethionine.” Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2013;36(1):1-13.

2 Bottiglieri T et al. “Cerebrospinal fluid S-adenosylmethionine in depression and dementia: effects of treatment with parenteral and oral S-adenosylmethionine.” J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 1990;53(12):1096-1098.

3 Mischoulon D, Fava M. “Role of S-adenosyl-L-methionine in the treatment of depression: a review of the evidence.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2002;76(5):1158S-1161S.

4 Papakostas GI et al. “S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) augmentation of serotonin reuptake inhibitors for antidepressant nonresponders with major depressive disorder: a double-blind, randomized clinical trial.” Am J Psychiatry. 2010;167(8):942-948.

5 Sharma A et al. “S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Clinician-Oriented Review of Research.” J Clin Psychiatry. 2017;78(6):e656-e667.

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