Diary of Unknown Symptoms

Mystery of the Internal Vibration

Entry for January 31, 2008


So now I discover a link between SAM-e and melatonin.

SAM-e Is Necessary for Melatonin

One of the most exciting things about SAMe is that it is melatonin’s daytime equivalent. The natural synthesis of melatonin during the night is dependent on the synthesis of SAMe during the day. SAMe is necessary for the biochemical reaction that converts serotonin into melatonin. (Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that drugs like Prozac elevate). SAMe and melatonin are entwined in a circadian rhythm that see-saws back and forth as the sun rises and sets. SAMe is melatonin’s other half: when melatonin levels shoot up at night, SAMe stays low. But during the day, when melatonin falls, SAMe levels climb. Without adequate SAMe during the day, neither melatonin nor serotonin can be synthesized. And both are dependent on light and dark.

One of the most fascinating animal studies on SAMe and melatonin was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry in 1995. Researchers demonstrated in great detail the perfect orchestration that occurs between levels of SAMe and melatonin. The so-called “nyctohemeral” rhythm (pertaining to both day and night) was documented almost minute-by-minute. Data were translated onto graphs showing the see-saw relationship between melatonin and SAMe (Fig. 1).

Both melatonin and SAMe are controlled by an internal “clock” that knows lightness from darkness. In the evening, about 30 minutes before sunset, levels of SAMe shoot up to their highest level. They stay there for about an hour, and then suddenly drop. When this happens, melatonin kicks in. Melatonin increases for four hours, while SAMe drops. Five hours into the night, melatonin hits its high, and SAMe hits its low. Melatonin stays elevated until three hours before sunrise, when it abruptly falls. Meanwhile, SAMe builds up. Five hours into the day (around 11:00 A.M.), SAMe reaches its peak level again, then begins a gradual descent until evening.

Serotonin levels follow roughly the same pattern-higher during the day and lower at night. It appears that the serotonin synthesized during the day is used at night to make melatonin. SAMe is absolutely crucial for the natural synthesis of melatonin because it donates a methyl group molecule to the enzyme that converts the acetylated form of serotonin to melatonin.

Melatonin is not traditionally though of as a hormone that effects mood, but it does. When melatonin levels are low, you tend to wake in the wee hours in a panicked state, even if things may be generally okay in your life. You will wake fearing the worst about the least important things or feeling depressed for no real reason. Melatonin is made from the amino acid tryptophan, which also makes serotonin. It’s production in the brain requires methionine and SAMe.

What a fantastic article. Off to the health food store looking for SAM-e!

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August 17, 2009 - Posted by | Health | , , ,

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