Melatonin Ways Of Action And Effects
In view of the aforementioned general characteristics of pineal melatonin production and its several specific mechanisms of action, it is noteworthy that to accomplish its physiological role, melatonin presents several ways of action that will determine different time-allocated effects. It is important to note that melatonins ways of action and ensuing effects might vary according to the considered physiological system however, they should be broadly taken into account to fully understand and interpret melatonin physiology and pathophysiology.
Immediate effects are the consequence of what can be called the classic hormonal way of action and are related to melatonin being present in biological fluids and its instant interaction with corresponding molecular effectors. Therefore, these effects are expressed during the night when melatonin is released by the pineal gland and is present in blood and CSF.
Prospective effects are dependent on a special melatonins way of action, as they are primed during the night , through the immediate effects, but are expressed only during the following day when melatonin is no longer present. In other words, the nocturnal action of melatonin triggers cellular and molecular mechanisms that will determine effects that are expressed only after cessation of the melatonin signal and, as a rule, the absence of melatonin during the following day is a necessary condition for their occurrence.
Sunlight Induces The Production Of Many Beneficial Chemicals In The Body
Sunlight produces much more for our health than just vitamin D from ultraviolet-B exposure multiple types of energy are emitted from the sun, including red, near infrared, far infrared, and blue light, each of which offers some unique health effects. Another of the many benefits of sun exposure is the short-term release of nitric oxide when the skin is exposed to the suns UVA rays. Nitric oxide is beneficial for heart health by acting to increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. Additionally, nitric oxide plays a key role in immunity, cellular function, neurotransmission, and has antimicrobial and anticancer effects.
Sunlight exposure also results in the production of serotonin and beta-endorphins, which promote mood enhancement and relaxation, relieve pain, and boost immunity. There is also evidence that vitamin D itself may help regulate the production of both serotonin and melatonin.
Start incorporating regular sunshine exposure into your daily routine to increase your bodys production of vitamin D, melatonin, and other health-boosting chemicals.
Melatonin: Drug Or Supplement
The regulation of melatonin varies around the world. In some countries, its regulated like a drug, and manufacturing is held to the same quality standards. In countries like Canada and the United States, its considered a supplement or natural health product. Melatonin is the fourth most popular natural product taken in the United States . In children, its second only to fish oil in terms of popularity. Sales are robust and keep growing, from $62 million in 2003 to $378 million in 2014. In the early 1900s it was observed that the pineal gland secreted a substance with physiologic effects, and the hormone itself was named in 1958. Receptors for the hormone have been identified in the hypothalamus, the pituitary, and in other organs in the body. And its definitely a natural substance: Melatonin is found in vertebrates, invertebrates, animals, bacteria, fungi, algae and plants. In humans and other mammals, melatonin secretion by the pineal gland follows the light cycle, being low during daylight hours, surging in the evening and peaking in the middle of the night. This secretion starts in infancy and continues through adulthood, followed by a decline as we age. It has been explored in clinical trials mainly for the prevention and treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia and jet lag.
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Modern Living And Its Impact On Our Natural Melatonin Levels
Modern living, for all its benefits can actually decrease our levels of natural melatonin. From the widely rebuked blue light screen on our smart phones at bedtime to modern farming techniques that decrease soil quality and therefore the vitamin quality in our foods, a natural boost of melatonin can be a good thing.
Below, weve explained easy ways you can boost your natural melatonin levels. Incorporate these simple guidelines into your day and night routine for a month and youll be sleeping better.
Measuring Your Vitamin D Level Is One Way To Tell If You Are Getting Enough Sunshine
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D levels and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Choose which to measure, such as your vitamin D, omega-3s, and essential minerals including magnesium and zinc, by creating your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.
Enroll and test your levels today, learn what steps to take to improve your status of vitamin D and other nutrients and blood markers, and take action! By enrolling in the GrassrootsHealth projects, you are not only contributing valuable information to everyone, you are also gaining knowledge about how you could improve your own health through measuring and tracking your nutrient status, and educating yourself on how to improve it.
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What Are The Side Effects Of Melatonin
Short-term use of melatonin has relatively few side effects and is well-tolerated by the majority of people who take it. The most commonly reported side effects are daytime drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness, but these are experienced by only a small percentage of people who take melatonin.
In children, the reported side effects of short-term use are similar as in adults. Some children may experience agitation or an increased risk of bedwetting when using melatonin.
For both children and adults, talking with a doctor before taking melatonin can help prevent possible allergic reactions or harmful interactions with other medications. People taking anti-epilepsy and blood thinning medications, in particular, should ask their physician about potential drug interactions.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends against melatonin use in people with dementia, and there is little research about its safety in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
There is also very little data about the long-term effects of melatonin supplements in children or adults. There is some concern that sustained use of melatonin could affect the onset of puberty in children, but research so far is inconclusive. Because the long-term effects are unknown, people should maintain an ongoing conversation with their doctor about using melatonin and the quality of their sleep and overall health.
What Are Melatonin Supplements
Sleep disorders are more common than we think, and because they are uncomfortable and cause significant stress to the sufferer, people are ready to try anything that promises a good nights sleep. Sleep aids are routinely administered by healthcare practitioners to people who suffer from sleep-related disorders. While sleep disorders can be caused by several factors, including sleep apnea, snoring, and other neurological problems, the ones caused by low melatonin levels are often treated with melatonin supplements.
When our bodies are unable to produce sufficient amounts of necessary hormones naturally, they have to be supplemented externally. For instance, those who dont produce sufficient levels of progesterone or testosterone often need to go for hormone replacement therapy. It is quite similar in the case of melatonin. Supplements are available in the form of pills, liquids, or chewable tablets, either natural or synthetic.
Divergence Of Melatonin Biosynthesis In Different Taxa
Melatonin is believed to exist in all living organisms including bacteria, yeasts, fungi, animals, and plants . This molecule is formed exclusively from the amino acid tryptophan . While tryptophan is consumed in the diet, it can also be synthesized via the shikimic acid pathway starting with D-erythrose-4-phosphate, phosphoenolpyruvate, or carbon dioxide in some species . With the evolution of organisms bacteria, fungi, and plants retained the ability to synthesize tryptophan . Conversely, mammals only attain tryptophan, an essential amino acid, during food intake. A reduction of tryptophan leads to the marked lowering of melatonin production in animals compared to that in plants . Since plants cannot behaviorally avoid extremely stressful conditions, they require extra protection from stress hence, the biosynthesis of tryptophan is presumably retained in plants to ensure that melatonin is available for relieving oxidative stress levels under environmentally-stressful conditions.
Figure 4. Pathways of melatonin synthesis in different plant and animal taxa. Depending on the organism, not all of the events necessarily take place in the chloroplasts or mitochondria of every species. For the species, plant and animal, that have been investigated, the published data provide strong evidence that these organelles are critically involved with melatonin production.
Melatonin And Children With Adhd
As many as 70% of children with ADHD experience sleep problems. They frequently experience excessive daytime sleepiness caused by initial insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep at night.
Studies show that children with ADHD who take melatonin experience improved sleep. One study found a reduction in insomnia, leading to children falling asleep an average of 16 minutes earlier.
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How Can You Use This Information For Your Health
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools , assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level
Who May Benefit From A Melatonin Supplement
While a number of groups may benefit from melatonin supplements, keep in mind that melatonin may not be a long-term solution. It treats the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of your sleep issues. You always want to address the reason youre not sleeping well, says Sharon Puello, MA, RDN, CDN, CDEC. With that in mind, the following people may benefit from melatonin supplements:
People with insomnia: While taking melatonin is not a guaranteed ticket to a restful night of sleep, research does suggest that it improves sleep in those with insomnia.
People with some sleep disorders: It may also be helpful for people with some sleep disorders like idiopathic REM sleep behavior disorder and delayed sleep-wake phase disorder.
People who experience migraines: Research suggests that melatonin may improve or prevent migraine symptoms, though research is limited.
Those who take beta-blockers: Its also been shown to be effective at improving sleep for those who have trouble sleeping because of beta-blocker usage.
Those with Parkinson-related sleep disorders: Melatonin may help improve sleep for individuals with Parkinson’s and related sleep disorders.
Those with IBS: Its been proposed that melatonin can be an effective therapy for a number of other conditions, including IBS. Research is limited in these areas, but some small studies show symptom improvements.
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Synthetic Or Natural Melatonin For Our Body
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced naturally by the pineal gland in the middle of our brains and helps to control our daily sleep-wake cycles. This hormone can also be produced synthetically in a laboratory.
Our bodies naturally produce the melatonin, so most of us assume that melatonin supplements are also natural.
Melatonin And The Conundrum Of Diurnal Vs Nocturnal Species: Similarities And Differences
The preceding discussion of the ways of action and effects of melatonin should be taken into account to understand the similarities and differences in the physiological effects and regulation of melatonin on diurnal or nocturnal species. When considering this, it is reasonable to recognize that some of the immediate and prospective effects of melatonin might be different according to the daily distribution of the activity/rest cycle of the studied species. In fact, in nocturnal species such as rats, the immediate effects of melatonin, deduced from melatonin receptor knockdown, pinealectomy, and/or melatonin replacement experiments, result in increased insulin sensitivity, higher glucose tolerance, and increased activity, temperature, and energy expenditure, in addition to resetting the baroreflex so that the rising of blood pressure is limited. Alternatively, the prospective effects of melatonin in nocturnal species include, for example, daytime hepatic insulin resistance and gluconeogenesis.
Conversely, melatonin immediate effects in diurnal species involve, for example, the induction of sleep, blood pressure and temperature dipping, cortisol secretion blockade, and induction of insulin resistance and glucose intolerance. The prospective effects are the induction of daytime insulin sensitivity, pancreatic higher sensitivity to glucose and incretins-induced insulin secretion, regulation of daytime blood pressure, and energy balance.
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Who Should Take Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin supplements have become very popular these days as an increasing number of people suffer from sleep-related disorders. When melatonin was first created, it was meant to treat insomnia in those above 50 years of age, because that is when melatonin production naturally drops. But today it is used as a natural sleep aid if people have trouble falling or staying asleep. Melatonin is also sometimes taken for other sleep problems such as delayed sleep phase disorder, where it is tough to fall asleep before 2 a.m.
Melatonin supplements are used when people have jobs that disrupt normal sleep schedule, a condition known as sleep work disorder. These supplements may also be used to treat or prevent jet lag the tired, worn-out feeling people get when traveling across different time zones.
Melatonin is available as over-the-counter dietary supplements in the US and can be purchased without a prescription. However, in certain countries like the United Kingdom, all sleeping pill, including melatonin, is available only on the prescription of a medical practitioner. Over the counter, melatonin isnt regulated by the FDA. It must be noted that melatonin isnt a magic sleep aid, and work differently for different people. It is advised that melatonin is taken only after consulting a doctor.
Side Effects Of Melatonin Supplements
Short-term use of melatonin supplements is generally considered safe however, there isn’t enough research yet to discern melatonin’s long-term effects.
Side effects of melatonin use include headaches, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness, and nightmares.
In rarer cases, there are more severe effects of melatonin including mild anxiety, feelings of depression, tremors, abdominal cramps, confusion, or hypotension . Be sure to talk to a doctor if you experience these or other side effects.
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Multiple Mechanisms Precisely Regulate Melatonin Biosynthesis
The presence of melatonin in both plants and animals raises the question as to whether animals and plants have different mechanisms for modulating the biosynthesis of this indole-containing compound. Current data indicate that the regulatory mechanisms of melatonin synthesis are fundamentally different between animals and plants . In vertebrates, melatonin is referred to as the chemical expression of darkness in general, in plants a day/night rhythm is less common, although not totally absent in some species, with the melatonin concentrations sometimes not varying much throughout the light:dark cycle . Hence, melatonin synthesis in some plants is non-rhythmic, as in the mitochondria of animals .
Figure 5. A summary of what is known concerning the molecular mechanism governing melatonin production in plant cells and animal cells.
Does Melatonin Work For Shift Workers
Shift work that involves night shifts may cause people to feel sleepy at work and make it difficult to sleep during the daytime after a shift ends.
According to two 2014 research reviews, studies on whether melatonin supplements help shift workers were generally small or inconclusive.
- The first review looked at 7 studies that included a total of 263 participants. The results suggested that people taking melatonin may sleep about 24 minutes longer during the daytime, but other aspects of sleep, such as time needed to fall asleep, may not change. The evidence, however, was considered to be of low quality.
- The other review looked at 8 studies , with a total of 300 participants, to see whether melatonin helped promote sleep in shift workers. Six of the studies were high quality, and they had inconclusive results. The review did not make any recommendations for melatonin use in shift workers.
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What Are Normal Melatonin Levels
Pineal melatonin levels vary widely based on your age and sex.
Newborn babies dont produce their own melatonin. Before birth, they receive melatonin from the placenta, and after birth, they can receive it through breast milk. A melatonin cycle appears when theyre 2 to 3 months old.
Melatonin levels then continue to increase as your child ages, reaching peak levels right before puberty. Once puberty hits, theres a steady decrease in melatonin levels until it evens out in the late teens. In all ages after puberty, melatonin levels are higher in women and people assigned female at birth than in men and people assigned male at birth .
Melatonin levels are then stable until around age 40, followed by a decline as you continue to age. In people who are over 90 years old, melatonin levels are less than 20% of young adult levels.
Different factors cause the decline in age-related melatonin production, including calcification of your pineal gland, which is very common, and issues with light detection due to eye conditions, such as cataracts.
If you undergo a test that measures your melatonin levels, your healthcare provider will let you know if your levels are within normal ranges based on your age and sex.