Melatonin is a biological hormone secreted by the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland located in the hypothalamus in the brain, and refers to a molecule naturally synthesized in animals, plants, and microorganisms. It is derived from tryptophan, an essential amino acid, and is also synthesized in bone marrow cells, epithelial cells, and lymphocytes. Melatonin secretion is also controlled by the amount of light entering the eye. When the surroundings are bright, the amount of secretion is small, and when it is dark, the amount of secretion increases. Because melatonin is secreted when it is dark, it is also called the hormone of the night.
Melatonin is well known for regulating circadian rhythms, as well as sensing and synthesizing photoperiods such as the length of night and day, and regulating the rhythm of sleep and wakefulness of humans. It is known that this series of actions are involved in actions such as inducing natural sleep and maintaining a normal sleep pattern. In addition to these effects, such as sleep induction, melatonin has been reported to help improve antioxidant and immune function. Now, let’s take a look at more detailed information about the benefits of melatonin.
Melatonin Main Benefits
1. Natural Sleep Induction
The most representative effect of melatonin is that it helps you get a good night’s sleep through natural induction of sleep. Through activation of melatonin receptors, it is known that it is effective in helping to improve the quality of sleep by regulating photoperiods, such as the length of night and day, and to help you get a good night’s sleep.
In addition to the effect of improving the quality of sleep, it is also known to help improve the symptoms of insomnia, which cannot sleep for various reasons. Due to these effects, it is often used as a prescription drug to relieve symptoms of insomnia, people with broken circadian rhythms, and the elderly with low melatonin levels.
2. Antioxidant action
Melatonin is known to be effective as an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals. It is said that it protects our body from oxidative stress caused by free radicals and prevents oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA. It is known that the antioxidant power of melatonin is twice that of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant and one of the fat-soluble vitamins. As an excellent antioxidant of melatonin, it is said to have a beneficial effect on boosting the immune system. In addition, free radicals act as the main cause of increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease by promoting the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is known as harmful cholesterol. Due to the antioxidant action of melatonin, it can help reduce free radicals and improve cholesterol levels.
Melatonin receptors in the brain, cardiovascular system, liver, and kidneys are known to play an important role in their anti-inflammatory action, reducing inflammation levels. In addition, melatonin receptors exist in an important area for pain control and are known to be involved in reducing inflammation and tissue damage, thereby helping to reduce pain and chronic pain.
Melatonin Side Effects and Many Foods
Although melatonin has a variety of actions as mentioned above, when it is secreted in excess, it can increase depression by inducing sleep and sedation. In particular, melatonin is known to be closely related to the occurrence of seasonal affective disorder, a depression in winter. Also, taking melatonin medications can cause headaches, drowsiness, and fatigue. In addition, patients with kidney and liver-related disorders and autoimmune diseases can also cause problems, so caution is advised. In addition, it is said that pregnant and lactating women should limit their use as safety has not been clearly confirmed.
Melatonin drugs are classified as health supplements in the United States and can be purchased without a prescription, but in Korea, they are classified as prescription drugs that require a doctor’s prescription. In order to naturally secrete melatonin without prescription, and to properly control it, it is also a good way to consume a variety of foods that exist in a natural state.
Foods rich in melatonin include cherries, broccoli, walnuts, and many other foods, and regular consumption can provide major health benefits of melatonin. In particular, cherries are one of the representative fruits with a high content of melatonin. They are also rich in antioxidants such as anthocyanins, and various vitamins and minerals, which are said to be excellent in suppressing inflammation and enhancing immune function.
And it is said that if you eat together with these foods, such as dates, milk, almonds, and other foods that help sleep and stabilize the nerves, you will get a better effect. In addition, bananas are known to have beneficial effects when consumed regularly because they are rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is used to synthesize melatonin.