Melatonin: Uses, Functions, Side effects, Doses and Warnings

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a serotonin derived hormone. It plays an important role in the sleep cycles. Pineal gland naturally secretes the hormone within our body. Skin, lymphocytes and gastrointestinal tract (GIT) also synthesize the hormone. The production and release of the hormone in the brain are directly related to the day and night cycles. The secretion increases in the nights and decreases during the day.  It is a hormone whose levels decrease with ageing.

Melatonin hormone is a Chrono biotic substance. It acts as synchronizer by stabilizing bodily rhythms. Melatonin is a biological modulator of mood, sleep, sexual behaviour, reproductive alterations, immunologic function, and circadian rhythms. It has also proven to be having antioxidant properties.

Melatonin hormone is one of those supplements that is commonly used by people to help sleep. Melatonin pills are generally used by those who suffer from insomnia and also after jet lag. The good part of this hormonal medication is that people are highly unlikely to develop dependence or addiction to it like other sleep medications. But remember these side effects too.

Side effects of melatonin

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Depression and mild anxiety episode
  • Mild tremor,
  • Abdominal cramps,
  • Irritability
  • Reduced alertness
  • Confusion or disorientation

Can melatonin cause headaches

Yes, it can. One of the most common side effects observed is Headache and dizziness.

Does melatonin make you sleepy?

Yes, Melatonin supplements are known to cause daytime drowsiness. Hence it generally advisable to avoid work that involves maximal concentration like driving or operating machinery.

Melatonin hormone is most commonly available in the tablet form. But melatonin is also available in forms where it is placed in the cheek or under the tongue. This aids faster and direct absorption for all purposes intended. It is also available as melatonin spray or as melatonin injections.

Can kids take melatonin?

The answer depends on the illness the kid has, never self-prescribe or purchase the medication over the counter. Consult the paediatrician, if the kid is hyperactive or has disturbed sleep cycle.

Is melatonin safe? How much melatonin should an adult take?

Like any other medication, Melatonin hormone taken orally is safe only in appropriate amounts. Melatonin is used for various treatments like Cancer as an adjunctive or additive therapy, Cluster headache prevention, Migraine headache and benzodiazepine withdrawal in elderly with insomnia, Nicotine withdrawal, chronic fatigue syndrome, winter depression, apart from insomnia in adults. And the maximum melatonin dosage in all these cases is not more than 10 mg per day, at varying intake doses ( except for cancer). Consult a Doctor before you take the hormone.

But more than these tablets or other form of Melatonin supplements, it is best recommended to seek the natural sources of melatonin hormone. There are four main vitamins and minerals, that are naturally available in foods and promote sleep. And these are tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and B6. These vitamins help in the production of turning serotonin into the hormone.

The melatonin-rich foods that have these are as follows.

  •  Dairy products (milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese), Poultry and Seafood. Also abundantly found in Nuts and seeds (flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, cashews, peanuts, almonds, walnuts), legumes and grains like wheat, rice, barley, corn, oats contain Tryptophan. Fruits like apples, bananas, peaches and vegetables like Onions, spinach, broccoli are rich in tryptophan.
  • Calcium is found in Milk, Yoghurt, Cheese, Sardines. Also found in Dark leafy greens, and Soya beans.
  • Magnesium is found in Dark leafy greens, Nuts and seeds, Wheat germ, fish and banana.
  • Vitamin B6 is vitally found in Sunflower seeds, Flaxseeds, Fish, Spinach, Meat, and Dried Prunes.

Can you overdose on melatonin?

You cannot exactly overdose. But when melatonin dosage exceeded than the recommended amounts,  the listed side effects can occur in an uncontrollable scale. And can result in disastrous effects. It is very specifically contraindicated in those who are on immunosuppressant therapy.

In the end, remember the more you depend on natural foods for seeking melatonin, the better you will feel!



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