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Shopping for SAMe: Costly, and It's Not All the Same

The supplement SAMe has quickly become one of the best-selling dietary supplements in this country, a popular remedy for depression and arthritis. Unfortunately, it is very expensive--ranging from around $1 to $2 per 200 mg pill. Here are some tips to get the most for your money.

     Look for "pure" SAMe. You can't always tell from the label how much SAMe a product contains. Some brands are heavily diluted with fillers or herbal extras. Look for "pharmaceutical grade" products that are at least 96% pure.  Buy enteric-coated tablets."Without this coating," says Dr. Richard Brown of Columbia University, "SAMe won't get released at the right place in the intestines for best absorption." The coating also protects them against air, prolonging shelf life.  Check the chemical form. Some experts suggest brands such as GNC and Nature Made that contain a newer, more stable form of SAMe called "1,4-butanedisulfonate." But many reliable products containing "tosylate," an older form of SAMe, are also on the market.  Try imports. Dr. Sol Grazi of the University of Colorado notes that because SAMe is a prescription supplement in many European countries, it tends to undergo fairly rigorous testing.

The bottom line: Stick with trusted brands. Experts caution that the raw material needed to make SAMe is highly reactive, and that poorly made products may be worthless.

Here are six brands that meet our experts' criteria in terms of purity, enteric coating, foreign testing, and manufacturer reliability. There are other reliable brands. If you need more information on another brand, call the manufacturer.

Brand  Cost (400 mg)
Allergy Research Group  $4.50
DaVinci  $3.35
GNC   $2.66 
Life Extension Foundation $2.50
Nature Made  $1.90
Solgar  $4.06

For More Information
See our healing paths on depression and arthritis, and our feature article "The SAMe Solution."


Date Published: 07/23/2001
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