Melatonin is not just for sleep. There are many benefits of taking melatonin supplementation.
Low serotonin can lead to low melatonin.
Melatonin is also known as N-acetyl-5-methoxy-tryptamin or MLT. MLT is a naturally occurring biochemical and is secreted from the pineal gland especially at night. MLT is made from serotonin. Low serotonin is far too common in cases of anxiety, depression and insomnia. So low serotonin can lead directly to low melatonin.
The subject of many studies.
Evidence in studies indicated that melatonin has been used as an anti-oxidant since there were single-celled organisms going back to the origin of cyanobacteria. By-products of oxygen metabolism are often toxic and life needs anti-oxidants like melatonin. Melatonin is found in chloroplasts of green plants and mitochondria of aerobic life forms.
In these aerobic life forms, the production of energy produces something called ROS or reactive oxygen species. Like most biochemicals, these need to be kept in a certain range. Too much of the ROS and the cell will degrade from the toxic effects. Too little and the body has trouble fighting off bacteria and other microorganisms. Since the beginnings of life, we have seen the introduction of melatonin as one mechanism to preserve this healthy balance.
Melatonin plays a roll in our sleep rhythms.
MLT finds its way into the cerebral spinal fluid since the pineal is immediately behind the third ventricle of the CSF system. Melatonin is highly involved in circadian rhythms. It also demonstrates antioxidant, anti-aging, immunomodulation as well as anticancer properties.
Melatonin is key because not only does it provide its own anti-oxidant activity but also stimulates the production of other anti-oxidants like glutathione peroxidase (GPx), superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase. This stimulation by MLT happens under normal conditions and also in times of elevated oxidative stress.
Melatonin is an antioxidant and protects our DNA.
Melatonin also works at the genetic level to help switch on genes that helps regulate the production of anti-oxidants at a very fundamental level. Because of these different mechanisms of anti-oxidant control it can be called the master regulator of the body’s antioxidant response.
The anti-oxidant function of MLT is shown in protection of the liver, muscles and DNA too. This protection can be shown for endogenous and exogenous toxins. Endogenous refers to those chemicals created by the body itself and exogenous refers to toxins from the environment like carbon tetrachloride, chemical nerve agents and a host of others.
Melatonin helps keep a healthy cell alive but aids in the cell death of cancer cells, especially breast and prostate cancers. Some research supports the working hypothesis that chemotherapy works better with melatonin supplementation.
Even though it is naturally occurring, many studies show benefits from supplementation. A general search of the literature shows in excess of 600 articles about this topic. Some of these are animal studies as we can’t intentionally put people into oxidative stress to check the effectiveness of melatonin supplementation. If you search more specific topics like melatonin and cancer, you get 2500 peer reviewed studies. You can also find articles on multiple sclerosis, reproductive health in males and females, ocular ischemic syndrome, blood pressure, mental health, sleep, tinnitus, bladder dysfunction, autism, fibromyalgia, help with menopause and many more.
Melatonin is also a hormone.
Because melatonin is a hormone, the effects can be very widespread. Therefore you will have to evaluate your own needs and determine what melatonin can do for you. And since melatonin is a hormone, a little can be good but a lot can cause problems. Most studies use 0.5 to 5 mg. That is a large range so the prudent approach is to start at the lower range and gradually increase. For problems like jet lag or sleep, it will easy to determine if your dosage is in the right range.
My goal is to write a short but meaningful blog about melatonin supplementation. This has been difficult because of all the body systems affected by melatonin levels. I can sum this up to say that taking some small doses daily has an excellent chance of helping move your health forward. Since your case will be somewhat unique you should do some reading on your particular concerns to help you determine how you should approach melatonin supplementation. Chances are it will be a big help.