How Melatonin Fights Aging

Melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland of the body, is widely used as a supplement to combat jet lag and alleviate mild insomnia. Studies indicate that it may also be used as a dietary supplement to slow the process of aging.

Melatonin is produced when light is detected by the eyes. This message is relayed to the brain which signals alertness to the pineal gland. The onset of darkness triggers the pineal gland to release melatonin into the bloodstream, which helps to induce sleep.

Younger people, especially children, produce a large amount of melatonin, which is why babies can sleep so much. This ability to fall asleep quickly and sleep deeply has benefits for the growing body, allowing cells to rejuvenate and the body to grow and heal. As individuals age, melatonin production decreases. This may be why many older adults have difficulty sleeping.

Multiple studies indicate that lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health problems, including mental health deficits, stress, heart disease, and other problems which contribute to aging. It makes sense, then, that getting frequent and restful sleep can help turn back the clock.

One doctor’s research suggests that melatonin is the regulator of almost all hormones in the body as well as regulating the circadian cycles. Dr. Walter Pierpaoli defines “aging” as a degenerative condition of the body, not just the passing of years. Resetting the body’s age clock can slow down the symptoms of aging. Studies show that when a young pineal gland is transferred to the body of an old animal, the resulting melatonin boost sends a message of “youth” throughout the body, promoting health and vitality.

With this reasoning, melatonin may also help stimulate the immune system, which can promote better overall health, including fending off certain diseases associated with age, possibly even certain cancers and even dementias. Clinical trials have shown that melatonin can diminish the effects of hormones that trigger certain cancers, including breast cancer and prostate cancer.

Research is still ongoing into the many benefits of melatonin. As with all supplements and medications, speak to your doctor before using it. If you opt to try melatonin, look for the synthetic variety, made from plant material to mimic melatonin produced in the body. Animal-based melatonin can contain diseases and other pathogens. A 3mg dose has been shown to be highly effective.

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