What is Melatonin?


What is melatonin? We have known for some decades that our bodies are capable of producing substances that help in fighting diseases and other infections. One of the substances that is regularly being produced by our brains is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that our brains secret during the night. In fact, the sleepy feeling that we get at the end of the day is being caused by this special hormone.

Unfortunately, a lot of things can disrupt our brain’s ability to secrete this hormone and when this happens, we start to experience problems like insomnia. Medications and the ageing process are main causes of this disruption. This is why drugs and food supplements rich in melatonin are available to help our body replace the melatonin that it cannot secrete normally.

Although the main function of melatonin is to regulate our internal clocks to help us sleep better and fully obtain the benefits of a good night’s rest, there are other health benefits as well.

What is melatonin good for? Melatonin has the ability to boost our immune system, thereby helping us fight off a number of diseases that could potentially wreak havoc on our bodies. Melatonin is also known to have anti-aging properties so we age at a slower rate. There is also a possibility that melatonin enhances the effects of drugs used to fight cancer. Patients who have trouble responding to cancer drugs have shown better progress when taking melatonin supplements.

Many health problems are caused by lack of sleep. Insomnia alone leads to a whole host of other conditions that are known to greatly affect our health — including a serious lack of mental clarity. Our body naturally produces melatonin to make us sleep better. Unfortunately, as we age or sleep with lights on, we tend to lose this ability. Taking melatonin supplements or consuming foods rich in melatonin is the only way to help our body make up for what it is unable to produce. Not only do melatonin supplements and foods help us sleep better, they help us fight free radicals that can cause cancer.

Additional sources:

J Clin Sleep Med. 2005 Jul 15;1(3):291-300

Aging (Milano). 1995 Oct;7(5):340-51.

MIT


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