SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine) is a combined product of ATP and methionine. It is not a vitamin because the body produces all that it needs. In order to produce SAMe the body needs adequate levels of methionine, folate and vitamin B12. As a supplement it is used primarily for depression. It works by enhancing the impact of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. It is also used to alleviate the symptoms of arthritis and it is being studied to see if it slows the progression of arthritis. Researchers have found SAMe as effective as pharmaceutical agents for pain and inflammation. SAMe is also felt to regenerate the liver, so it can be helpful for people who drink too much or have other liver conditions.
Melatonin is primarily used for insomnia and jet lag. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland but only in the absence of sunlight. As soon as the sun rises the pineal gland stops the production of melatonin and instead makes serotonin. Melatonin is what triggers sleep. Higher melatonin levels produce a deeper sleep. It decreases stress by decreasing cortisol levels and stimulating GABA. It is a strong antioxidant, protecting against free radicals, thus protecting against cancer. It is felt to be anti-aging because of its effect on stress and cancer protection. Woman who work at night have less melatonin production and as result they have an increase in breast and colon cancers. It also improves thyroid function by enhancing the production of T3.
Coenzyme Q10 is beneficial for people with congestive heart failure and other forms of heart disease. It has also been used with limited results to enhance athletic performance. The body naturally produces CoQ10 but it can become deficient if cholesterol-lowering drugs are being used.
Glucosamine is derived from glucose and is a key component for making cartilage. It is used to treat osteoarthritis. Not only does it alleviate symptoms but also it slows progression of the disease by regenerating cartilage.
Chondroitin sulfate, like glucosamine, is used to treat and protect against osteoarthritis. It is naturally produced in the body like glucosamine but additional supplements are beneficial. Like glucosamine, chondroitin is a major component of cartilage.
Creatine is responsible for bringing ATP to muscle cells. It is used to increase athletic performance. Muscles use ATP for energy, so creatine can make muscles work harder and longer while training and then recover faster.
Isoflavones are hormones that plants produce. Phytoestrogens are isoflavones because they are plant hormones that have an estrogen like effect. They bind to the same receptors as estrogen, and can actually prevent estrogen from binding, blocking estrogen’s influence. Our bodies do not have the enzymes to convert phytoestrogens into estrogens, so our levels of estrogen will not go up by taking phytoestrogens. Isoflavones have been shown to lower cholesterol. Soybeans are the most common source of isoflavones.
Ipriflavone is a synthetic isoflavone. Since it is synthetic it will not be obtained in our foods, and can only be obtained through a supplement. It was synthesized for preventing and treating osteoporosis. It gives an estrogenic effect only on the bones and does not prevent hot flashes or act on other tissue like the heart, breast or uterus. Ipriflavone most likely works by inhibiting bone breakdown, similar to estrogen’s effect on bone.
5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is a precursor for serotonin. Serotonin deficiencies are common in depression, so supplemental 5-HTP may increase serotonin levels. 5-HTP is also used to help with anxiety, insomnia, fibromyalgia, weight loss, and chronic headaches.
Lycopene is an antioxidant found in tomatoes and watermelon. Lycopene reduces the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, thus preventing heart disease. Lycophenes have been postulated to reduce the risk of cancer. Cooked tomatoes, such as tomato sauce, have a higher concentration of lycopene than raw tomatoes.