Melatonin: properties and benefits

The melatonin is a hormone produced and synthesized in a part of the brain, specifically the pineal gland, which besides being produced naturally by our body, it tends to be habitual consumption even without medical prescription, which can be a risk.

Not in vain, melatonin consumption should always have been prescribed by a doctor, since excessive consumption could cause seizures and alterations in blood glucose levels and blood pressure.

Among the main functions of melatonin, we must emphasize that it is a hormone that regulates the biological clock of our body, hence in recent years has become so fashionable as a treatment against sleep disturbances.

Benefits of melatonin

There is no doubt that one of the main benefits of melatonin, at least one of the most studied, is related to the influence it exerts on the sleep-wake rhythm (that is, with our own biological rhythm).

Hence, in recent years has become a suitable substance in the treatment of sleep disorders, as for example by people who suffer insomnia, in disorders such as the so-called as Jet-lag, or workers who suffer from sleep disturbances due to their work (for example, in workers with shifts).

In this sense, it seems that melatonin is indicated in the treatment of sleep disturbances, especially to alleviate the typical symptoms of jet-lag.

It is also recommended for people who tend to suffer sleep disturbances by continuously interrupting their daily rhythm, as is the case with shift workers, who can have a job at night and the following week throughout the day.

Although its properties for aging have not yet been medically proven, the fact is that it has been found that melatonin has a positive effect on the quality of life of elderly people. This is because a healthy diet, combined with high concentrations of melatonin, tend to positively influence the health of the person.

In addition, melatonin has antioxidant effects, which in turn has been shown to be more effective in the elimination of free radicals.

Beware of excessive consumption and without medical prescription

Considering that consumed without a prescription, it tends to be extremely common for us to take the risk of exceeding their consumption and the recommended amount (from 3 to 5 mg), there is no doubt that a treatment based on melatonin should be prescribed and controlled. by a doctor.

Why? Fundamentally because as we indicated at the beginning, there is a risk that excess melatonin can cause certain health disorders.

Side effects of melatonin use

  • Convulsions
  • Alteration of blood glucose levels.
  • Alteration of blood pressure.
  • For a short period of time it can cause depression.
  • It can cause a headache.
  • Some people may experience drowsiness.
  • Irritability may appear.

Therefore, their consumption must always have been prescribed and recommended in advance by a doctor. And the advisable thing is to take it at least one hour before sleeping, since during the day it tends to cause drowsiness.

Contraindications of melatonin

Given the controversy created in recent years by the increase in the number of people who consume melatonin supplements, we must bear in mind that short-term and without excessive consumption is a safe supplement for most people. Not surprisingly, Russell J. Reiter, a neuroendocrinologist and the world's leading expert on the sleep hormone, would probably have to pay attention when he said that "Melatonin is a very safe molecule, more than aspirin".

However, certain people or groups of population must take into account which are the main contraindications of melatonin, its consumption not being recommended:

  • Pregnant and lactating women.
  • Children and adolescents: especially because it has effects on other hormones, which may interfere with development.
  • People with high blood pressurecan increase blood pressure in people undergoing medical treatment to control blood pressure.
  • Diabetics: could increase blood sugar in those with diabetes.
  • Depressive people: mainly because it can make your symptoms worse.

More information | MedlinePlus / Interview with Russell J. Reiter

Image | michael_reuter This article is published for informational purposes only. You can not and should not replace the consultation with a Nutritionist. We advise you to consult your trusted Nutritionist.

Mayo Clinic Minute: Is melatonin the right sleep aid for me? (July 2022)