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All about melatonin

Most people think of melatonin for sleep - but did you know it affects almost every part of your body?!

Very few other molecules have such far reaching effects on our health

▪️Melatonin is mostly made in the pineal gland in the brain, in response to light levels

It increases at night and drops during the day (see post on circadian rhythm for more details)

▪️Light, especially blue light, suppresses it - why evening screen use is so disruptive

▪️Melatonin is produced from tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin then melatonin (via a few other steps)

▪️Melatonin is an extremely powerful antioxidant

▪️The spinal cord and sympathetic nerve system help regulate melatonin production - people with spinal cord damage, or on beta blocker meds have lower levels of it, and may have disrupted circadian rhythm

▪️In humans it is produced from 3-4 months old (why newborn babies have no day /night pattern!!)

▪️Levels peak before puberty, then decline from about age 40, in elderly people they can be up to 75% lower

▪️The actions of melatonin include:

- protecting cells and dna from damage

- regulating circadian (day /night) and seasonal rhythm (levels higher when days shorter)

- mitochondrial function (energy production)

- insulin and glucose metabolism ( diabetes rates and blood sugars higher with sleep deprivation)

- energy metabolism (sleep deprivation increases obesity risk)

- fertility hormones

-reducing blood pressure /heart rate, improving vagal tone, reducing hpa axis activity

- protecting brain cells, improving brain signalling (neurotransmission) and brain cell growth

- may reduce risk of neuro degenerative diseases and even slow progression of alzheimers and parkinsons

- may reduce cancer risk and slow cancer growth

- improves immune function

- protects bones

- reduces skin ageing and UV damage

- protects gut lining from ulcers

Its even transmitted from mother to fetus in order to program babies biological clocks!!

Studies on melatonin supplements are mixed, and as they don't mimic natural melatonin fluctuations

The optimal dose is also not known, so this is an ongoing area of research

Its why sleep is so important - it affects virtually every area of our health!!

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