Melatonin is so much more than just a good night’s sleep! It may be one of the most important supplements you can take for health and wellness.
Melatonin, or N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine, as some scientists would say, is not just one out of several, it is the 24-hour cycle hormone! Produced in the pineal gland, melatonin has been shown to reset, regulate and synchronize the internal clock of our bodies (Arendt. 1987).
In the late evening, when the sun sets and the production of melatonin is no longer suppressed by the light-induced negative feedback on the pineal gland, your natural melatonin production kicks in. Unfortunately, next to artificial light, which is something you can easily avoid by wearing a blindfold in bed, aging (Karasek. 2004) and metabolic diseases incl. obesity (Reiter. 2012) will also inhibit the increase in serum melatonin in the hours before you go to bed.
Melatonin May Be A Potential Fountain Of Youth - Studies have shown that the natural melatonin production starts to decline by the age of 30 – and that at a pace pretty rapid pace of approximately 2% per year (Sack. 1986). This decline in melatonin, which is still falsely considered to be a simple "sleep hormone" by many medical practitioners, goes hand in hand with a decline in antioxidant defenses. The same decline, of which researchers believe that it is at the heart of the anatomical and functional degeneration organs undergo during when we age. Accoringly, Reiter is spot on, when he points out in a 1994 paper in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Acta Neurobiologiae Experimentalis that the age-induced decline in melatonin production "may well play a significant role in aging processes," and that its prevention (e.g. by supplementation) "could be prevented" or at least "[delay] the aging process" (Reiter. 1994). The scientist from the University of Texas in San Antonio also believes that supplemental administration of melatonin may be beneficial in delaying age-related degenerative conditions, particularly in view of the fact that free radical damage has been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative disorders, which may be forestalled by chronic melatonin administration.
Melatonin and the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases - More recently, scientists from the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research supplied further evidence that Reiter's 20-year old hypothesis may actually be true (Wu. 2005). In their paper in the Journal of Pineal Research, Ying-Hui Wu and Dick F. Swaab report that they were able to show that the disruption of melatonin production is a characteristic feature of Alzheimer's that can be observed "as early as in the very first preclinical stages" (Wu. 2005) of this debilitating neurological disease. It is thus not surprising that early rodent data suggests that melatonin supplementation can reduce or even prevent both, the normal and pathological aging process of the brain and could thus help you to avoid a whole host of neurological problems we see in the elderly, today (Ramírez-Rodríguez. 2012; Peng. 2013). Many of these hypothetical benefits have already been confirmed for Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Polimeni. 2013).
Melatonin Is A Powerful Antioxidant And Might Reset Your Biological Clock - Whether the benefits are a mere result of the powerful antioxidant capacity of melatonin, of which scientists from the Atatürk University have shown that it they are 10x more pronounced than those of vitamin E, is something researchers are still debating.