100 Point Health: SAMe for Liver Health

For any drinker of alcoholic beverages, the three most important organs of the human body to try to protect are the liver, heart and brain. Typically, the liver is the most important organ to protect and defend, as it is our largest internal organ, and everything we eat or drink passes through the liver. Your liver is a clearinghouse for everything consumed, breathed or ingested, and it works 24/7/365 to keep every cell of our bodies as pure as possible. “Everything we consume” includes food, drink, air, drugs (prescription and non-prescription) and environmental toxins, of which there are literally tens of thousands.

Threshold actions each of us should take to enhance good liver function include proper diet and nutrition, avoiding environmental and other toxins, breathing enough pure air, etc. However, no matter how attentive each of us might be with regard to each of these areas, we live in a complex world where virtually every individual approach is deficient in some way(s). Proper liver health is one area that demands the attention of every drinker of alcoholic beverages, and supplementation to one’s diet of some important vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and trace elements may be advantageous. 

While there are many important supplements one can and should take to promote liver health – all of which will be highlighted in this column – the most important may be SAMe (S-adenosyl-methionine). Our bodies make SAMe from the amino acid methionine, but typically we cannot ingest enough methionine to increase our SAMe to adequate levels. Over 1,000 studies have documented the ability of SAMe to help prevent and treat multiple liver disorders. SAMe is considered to be the essential nutrient for the liver, because it facilitates the production of glutathione, which is the liver’s natural antioxidant and defense against oxidative stress. Alcohol creates oxidative stress through the induction of cytochrome and acetaldehyde, exceptionally destructive forms of free radicals. 

In addition to its antioxidant properties, SAMe:

  1. Helps prevent fat buildup in the liver.
  2. Helps inhibit the growth of malignant cancer cells.
  3. Helps synthesize proteins having to do with lipids, which ultimately affect heart functions.
  4. Helps with various liver maladies.
  5. Helps support stronger immune function, maintenance of cell membranes and balance in brain chemicals.
  6. May help relieve osteoporosis-related pain.
  7. Appears to enhance emotional well-being.

Should you be taking SAMe? As with all of the commentary, advice, suggestions, etc., in these columns, you should check with your primary care physician or other licensed medical care practitioner prior to embarking on any supplementation program. In conjunction with your medical care consultant, and perhaps nutritionist and naturopath, you can make this decision, as well as decide the amount of SAMe you should take each day. A “typical” dose is 200-400 milligrams per day. In my case, since I have documented issues with proper methylation, I take 400 milligrams twice per day.

DISCLAIMER: This article represents the views of the author and is not intended to constitute medical advice. The author’s views are not necessarily the views of The Wine Advocate.

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