Melatonin: what it is, what it is for, benefits and how to use

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body, whose main function is to regulate the circadian cycle, making it function normally. In addition, melatonin promotes the proper functioning of the body and acts as an antioxidant.

This hormone is produced by the pineal gland, which is only activated when there are no light stimuli, that is, melatonin production only occurs at night, inducing sleep. Therefore, at bedtime, it is important to avoid light, sound or aromatic stimuli that can speed up metabolism and decrease melatonin production. Generally, melatonin production decreases with aging and that is why sleep disorders are more frequent in adults or the elderly.

What are the benefits

Melatonin is a hormone that has numerous health benefits, such as:

1. Improves sleep quality

Several studies have shown that melatonin contributes to a better quality of sleep and helps to treat insomnia, by increasing the total sleep time, and decreasing the time needed to fall asleep in children and adults.

2. Has antioxidant action

Due to its antioxidant effect, it has been shown that melatonin contributes to the strengthening of the immune system, helping to prevent various diseases and to control psychological and nervous system-related diseases.

Thus, melatonin can be indicated to assist in the treatment of glaucoma, retinopathy, macular degeneration, migraine, fibromyalgia, breast and prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s and ischemia, for example.

3. Helps to improve seasonal depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that occurs during the winter period and causes symptoms such as sadness, excessive sleep, increased appetite and difficulty concentrating.

This disorder occurs more frequently in people who live in regions where winter lasts a long time, and is associated with a decrease in body substances linked to mood and sleep, such as serotonin and melatonin.

In these cases, melatonin intake can help to regulate circadian rhythm and improve symptoms of seasonal depression. Learn more about treating seasonal affective disorder .

4. Reduces stomach acid

Melatonin contributes to the reduction of acid production in the stomach and also nitric oxide, which is a substance that induces relaxation of the esophageal sphincter, reducing gastroesophageal reflux. Thus, melatonin can be used as an aid in the treatment of this condition or isolated, in milder cases.

Learn more about treatment for gastroesophageal reflux .

How to use melatonin

Melatonin production decreases over time, either due to age or due to constant exposure to light and visual stimuli. Thus, melatonin can be consumed in supplement form, such as Melatonin, or medications, such as Melatonin DHEA, and should always be recommended by a specialist doctor, so that sleep and other body functions are regulated. Learn more about the melatonin supplement Melatonin.

The recommended intake can range from 1mg to 5mg of melatonin, at least 1 hour before bed or as recommended by a doctor. This supplement can be indicated to treat migraines, fight tumors and, more often, insomnia. The use of melatonin during the day is usually not recommended, as it can deregulate the circadian cycle, that is, it can make the person feel very sleepy during the day and little during the night, for example.

A good alternative to increase the concentration of melatonin in the body is to consume foods that contribute to its production, such as brown rice, bananas, nuts, oranges and spinach, for example. Know other  foods more suitable for insomnia.

Here’s a recipe with some of the foods that help you fall asleep:

Possible side effects

Despite being a hormone naturally produced by the body, the use of the melatonin supplement can cause some side effects, such as headache, nausea and even depression. Therefore, the use of a melatonin supplement should be recommended and accompanied by a specialist doctor. See what are the side effects of melatonin .

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