What Is The Function of Melatonin?
Melatonin is that specific hormone that plays a vital role in the organism`s health. At a normal circadian rhythm, melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland in the brain as soon as the evening starts. This way, the hormone prepares the body for sleep by fulfilling a series of functions which influence longevity and well being.
Imbalances in the production and functioning of melatonin might produce devastating effects, from a simple depression to a serious cancer or even a life expectancy that is diminished considerably.
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What Is the Function of Melatonin?
During sleep, melatonin starts to work by preventing energy hormones from being active, so the organism can regenerate all its resources. This hormone inhibits the conscious activity of the brain, blocking the concentration and thinking activities. The hormone also removes oxygen and other nutrients from the muscle tissues and other various cells, so that physical activity isn`t possible anymore.
Melatonin is considered to be the waste collector of the organism, as the hormone penetrates each cell of the organism and cleans free radicals or other various harmful toxins. For this particular reason, melatonin is also considered a very powerful oxidant.
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Another role of this hormone is to slow down the heart`s functionality as well as other the functionality of other vital organs by exerting a constriction effect on blood vessels from the body`s members.
Therefore, the blood is propelled from all the extremities to the vital organs, the blood pressure decreases significantly and the heart rate slows down. Due to this reason, even patients who suffer from hypertension benefits from a normal blood pressure when they sleep.
Also, this hormone causes a decrease in the internal temperature of the body, felt between 02.00 and 04.00 in the morning, due to blood vessel deprivation. In a body that is healthy, the temperature will usually increase by 3 degrees throughout the day, after the effects of this hormone disappear.
Light is the main factors which influences his hormone that is produced by the organism. In the winter season, when the days shorten, the organism secretes the hormone earlier. Also, the production of melatonin is decreased with aging. Some elderly persons might not benefit from any amount of this hormone.
The Role of Melatonin Supplements
As this hormone fulfills roles that are vitally important in the natural regulation of physiological states, melatonin has been introduced in many food supplements meant to treat various disorders associated with difficulty sleeping or changes of time zone. Specialists try to find other curative properties of melatonin for the following purposes:
- Treating seasonal depressions.
- Regulating circadian rhythm for persons who work at night.
- Correcting or preventing the states of confusion after surgery.
- Relieving headache and migraines.
Some specialty studies have found that imbalances in the production of melatonin can be closely related to the increase in the cases of cancer in both sexes, especially in the case of people with day/night alternative work schedules. For instance, a recent research has found that women who work in shifts might have a 50% higher risk of developing breast cancer, and men with the same schedule at work have 40% higher chances of suffering bone or colorectal cancer.
Other researchers try to use melatonin in the purpose of slowing down the natural process of aging and increase the immunity`s resistance to infections.
Administration of Melatonin Supplements
At low doses, melatonin supplements are quite safe, both in the short term as well as in the medium or long term. Still, their administration should be made under strict medical supervision. Children, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers are the ones exposed to the potential side effects of melatonin overdose. – More info!
- Persistent drowsiness;
- Unusually intense dreams;
- Fluctuations in blood pressure;
- Low Internal body temperature;
- Morning dizziness.
Also, supplements of melatonin might cause vertigo and lethargy, so it`s not really advisable to drive cars or handle machines during this treatment.
Recommended doses of melatonin supplements are 0.2 mg to 20 mg in adults, depending on their medical reasons for which they are used.
Source of Melatonin
Dietary supplements of melatonin can be bought from pharmacies or online sites. There are several natural melatonin sources:
- Whole grains;
- Olive oil;
- Grape peel;
- Lean meat;
- Dairy items.
Melatonin obtained from natural source can generally be used for its antioxidant effects, but also for treating sleep disorders (although they are less used for this purpose because the intake of melatonin in foods is quite low).
When you want to take melatonin from food, you have to remember that their cooking at high temperature or fermentation affects the available amount of the substance. Ideally, you should attempt to consume fresh and unprocessed food free of melatonin.
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In cases that the doses of melatonin supplements are required to regulate the sleep program or to relieve the discomfort which is caused by time difference, the solution consists of administering food supplements which offer enough doses of melatonin.
In this case, ask your doctor about the possible interactions that the supplements may have with other drugs. For instance, calcium-based betablockers, which is prescribed for angina, heart conditions or hypertension, inhibit the absorption of melatonin.