This article summarizes what Melatonin is, how your body makes it, and its biological importance.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone produced in our brain, its creation is triggered with changes of light throughout the course of your day. The level of Melatonin you produce is linked to how light levels alter around yourself, if it is always light until the moment you are sleeping then you will produce little, same goes for if it were to be always dark.
Supplementation of melatonin is banned, or requires a permit around most of the known world with the exception of the United States since it is a neurohormone. There is a very low level of toxicity for melatonin supplements, it’s similar to vitamin C or beta-carotene. People with auto-immune disease should be wary of taking melatonin as it has immunomodulatory (it enhances parts of your immune system) properties.
Studies have shown that this hormone is useful for the treatment and prevention of headaches of all forms, when supplemented or attained from a regulated daily schedule. It is common knowledge that night workers have an increased chance of getting cancer in general, this is thought to be caused by their lack of naturally produced melatonin. When given to elderly patients suffering from dementia, it was noted that melatonin reduced their symptoms moderately.
Back to immunomodulation, melatonin increases the activity of macrophages in your brain, studies are underway to decipher if melatonin has immunomodulatory properties elsewhere in the body. As said before in another article of mine, macrophages are the white blood cell specifically used for bacteria and plaque, as it has grabbers to separate them and increase their surface area for other white blood cells.. Neat stuff really.
Since melatonin is used by our own body to get us to go to sleep, it’d be easy to assume that taking supplements would have a similar effect.. This is correct, although, there is a catch to this. When you take melatonin regularly your own body stops producing as much of it, though overall you’ll probably have more, your body will need time to ween off of it if you want to stop taking supplements. This is very similar to how birth control effects particular hormones responsible for fertility without permanently damaging their ability to do so, just like melatonin, the body will need time to get back to its usual rate of production.
My personal recommendation for you hardcore gamers or night workers is to either take melatonin supplements a couple hours before going to bed, or to control your surrounding lighting so your body will produce it on its own.. Light on during your waking period, dark when you’re beginning to settle down, pretty simple method to preserving your own life eh?
Oh and there are many more beneficial effects, for instance it also protects your gallbladder from gallstones and all sorts of stuff.. My job is to get you interested, your job is to research the rest!
The next article I write will be about Iodine.