Considerable levels of excitement and interest swirl around a recent discovery made by Spanish scientists who have discovered a way to control weight gain by consuming melatonin. This discovery by scientists from the University of Granada Institute for Neuroscience, the Hospital Carlos III, Madrid, and the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio (USA), has deservedly placed melatonin in the news once more.
Beige Fat vs. White Fat
The reason behind this notable mention of melatonin in the news lies in the fact that it has been proven that melatonin consumption encourages the production of “beige fat”. Beige fat is the kind of energy burning fat cells in adult humans that was, in turn, isolated by scientist-researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 2012.
Beige fat cells are found in pea-sized deposits that are strewn under the skin near the collarbone, and along the spine in human adults. Unlike “white fat” cells that store fat, beige fat burns off calories. Researchers led by Bruce Spiegelman, PhD, of Dana-Farber, opined that beige fat cells could give birth to new treatment modalities for both diabetes and obesity.
The highly pleasant news about beige fat and its calorie burning properties was put in better perspective recently with the inclusion of melatonin in the news. The Spanish researcher-scientists had earlier studied the effects of melatonin on obesity, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes mellitus related to obesity in immature obese and diabetic Zucker rats.
With their latest findings, it appeared that constant consumption of melatonin stimulated the emergence of ‘beige fat’ in obese diabetic rats. Melatonin consumption also increased the presence of beige fat in non-obese animals, the ones who had been used as a control group.
Melatonin, a natural hormone, generally increases in the dark, during the night. Melatonin can also be found appearing in almonds, mustard, sunflower seeds, Goji berries, fennel, cardamom, cherries, and coriander. Combining the consumption of melatonin with sleeping in the dark, and at night, is seen as a way to help control weight gain. It is also being positioned as preventative of the kinds of cardiovascular diseases that are associated with incidences of dyslipidemia and obesity.
Scientific Endeavors Against Obesity
In its fact sheet on obesity, the World Health Organization (WHO) mentioned that:
- 65% of the world’s population reside in countries where more people die because of obesity than because of being underweight.
- More than 40 million children, all under the age of five, were determined to be overweight in 2011.
- Obesity can be prevented.
In view of such facts, the endeavors of scientists and medical researchers against obesity, particularly in the use of melatonin, have gained greater significance. As the study has proven, in the chronic administration of melatonin, ‘beige fat’ cell mitochondria produce UCP1 protein, the protein that is responsible for generating heat and burning calories.
This study, which has propelled melatonin in the news once more, was authored by Aroa Jiménez-Aranda, Gumersindo Fernández-Vázquez, Daniel Campos, Mohamed Tassi, Lourdes Velasco-Perez, Tx Tan, Russel J. Reiter and Ahmad Agil.