Every one of us deals with our physical bodies and the aging process. Throughout life as we grow older our bodies are changing and usually not for the better. Our cells and tissue are damaged by free radicals and our organ functions slow down by damage done through poor eating habits, too much sun, or just plain living. Many people are concerned about Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, cancer, heart disease or stroke as the aging process continues.
While there are many different types of drugs to help us as we age what about preventative supplement use. There have been studies using melatonin for helping with the aging process. While there is no scientific proof that melatonin helps aging, there have been countless studies done with positive results. In the late 1980’s a Canadian doctor wrote several papers, after having done many experiments, about melatonin playing a critical role in aging and the diseases that we find in the aged. (Found in Life Extension Magazine) This same doctor treated many of his patients with melatonin for other medical problems such as cancer, neurological, viral, and inflammatory diseases.
Melatonin is produced from serotonin which comes from the pineal gland. The pineal gland is made up of pinealocytes and are said to be genetically predetermined; which means they can be lost and not reproduced due to chemical or environmental injury thus a decrease in these pinealocytes. The pineal gland is a small endocrine gland, part of a larger endocrine system that regulates the body through secreting hormones into our blood stream. The endocrine system sends information to our body’s different tissues and cells to cause a response. The hormones secreted from our endocrine system regulate various different functions like; growth, development, metabolism, and mood. So by the decrease in a particular hormone, such as melatonin, it can have lasting effects on our bodies. Because of the relation of melatonin to the pineal gland in our bodies it has been shown that as we age our melatonin levels decrease. Also melatonin is a powerful antioxidant and helps to fight against free radicals we encounter every day.
While melatonin for sleep is typically the main purpose of the supplement it can be said that in some cases melatonin is useful for help in treatment with aging, some forms of cancer, neurological diseases, and even some Alzheimer and Parkinson patients have used it with some success. It is to be noted that melatonin will not cure these different ailments and should be used in the care of a physician who is open to the use of supplements as part of their practice.
There are relatively few melatonin side effects; mostly due to improper dosage. The side effects can be: daytime grogginess, nightmares, headaches, confusion, changes in blood pressure and body temperature. If you experience any of these while taking melatonin change your dosage to find what works best for you. Melatonin dosages range from .05 mg all the way to 10mg and can be found in liquid or pill form. It would be best to get with a physician for any higher dosage amounts. All in all the benefits of taking melatonin for aging related illness outweigh any side effects you may have.