Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland or epiphysis, located in the back of the brain. Clinically, it derives from a precursor amino acid, tryptophan, which is subsequently transformed into serotonin, which in turn is converted into melatonin.
The main function is to mark the rhythms of the biological clock and acts as a director for various hormones in the body.
It is secreted almost exclusively at night and its levels are 10 times higher compared to the day with a peak around 2 in the morning. The production of this hormone, stimulated by the dark, is a signal to our body that it is time to sleep. As soon as there is light, the secretion decreases and hence the fact that many people wake up early as soon as light leaks from the window, others are less sensitive. The skin is sensitive to light and transmits the changes in brightness to the central nervous system
Unfortunately, production decreases with aging and sleep disorders also derive from it
But melatonin doesn’t just induce sleep. It is one of the most powerful antioxidants in our body, counteracting free radicals which are those chemicals that cause damage to the DNA, cell membranes, proteins of the body, damages that are the basis of many diseases related to aging, including atherosclerosis, cancer, skin wrinkles and hair loss.
For this reason, it prevents many degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Given the period of Covid and influences, it strengthens the immune system both by stimulating the thymus to produce a greater number of T lymphocytes, and by limiting the production of cortisol, the stress hormone with immunosuppressive power. Lowers blood sugar by reducing cortisol production. It stimulates the production of GH, or somatotropic hormone, an anti-aging hormone that maintains muscle mass and promotes the loss of body fat, also melatonin modulates the production of thyrotropic hormone (TSH), which pushes the thyroid to synthesize others hormones such as T3 and T4.
It also influences the production of sex hormones by the gonads and adrenals, so much so that its use as a contraceptive was considered to avoid the risks of cancer associated with the use of estrogen.
It lowers blood pressure by having a vasodilating action. But how can we increase the production of melatonin? Eating little in the evening. By limiting alcohol intake and including foods rich in tryptophan in the diet
It is an amino acid present in foods rich in proteins, especially legumes and seeds and therefore the diet must not be deficient in this amino acid, but carbohydrates also have their importance, because if consumed in the right dose in the evening they favor entry of tryptophan in the brain (this is one reason why not consuming carbohydrates in the evening can hinder sleep).
However, if your body is unable to produce enough melatonin due to age, alcohol abuse, electromagnetic and radioactive pollution, alterations in the sleep-wake rhythm, it may be useful to use melatonin as a supplement.
The recommended dosage is 1 to 5 mg. according to age. It is advisable to start from a low dosage and possibly increase it, if necessary, up to 5 mg. per day.
Obviously before going to sleep