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Friday, May 3, 2013


"Optimal Ratios to Success" discussed the ratios of the aspects involved in getting the maximal results with resistance training. And one of the factors is how much sleep you get. With the modern lifestyles many are not getting enough or adequate sleep. And when that happens for long periods of time it begins to become a problem that causes over exhaustion, minimal concentration, stress, emotional issues, physical consequences, and even sickness. So some turn to sleeping pills, which can be hazordous due to the addictive effect. But there are other methods that can bring on that sleep and rest such as relaxation, improving eating and lifestyle habits, minimizing stress, weightloss and even natural supplementation. The natural ingredient that helps with sleep that is now popular included in supplements is Melatonin.

Have you ever heard of Melatonin? What is it’s function in the body? How does it help with sleep? Can you get it from natural food sources? If you supplement it is it bad for you? Are there any side effects or contraindications?

Melatonin (N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine) is produced naturally in the body from the conversion of AA tryptophan into serotonin, available in the gastrointestional tract and the pineal gland. The pineal gland is located in the part of the brain that is responsible for the sympathetic functions of the body (actions not consciously controlled), such as mood, reproduction, aging, immunity, intestinal motility, and metabolism.

The secretion of melatonin regulates sleep which is influenced by the circadian rhythms with secretions greater in the night (darkness) and inhibition during the day (light) similar to cortisol release (Don’t Overstress). The amount released depends on the length of the dark phase of the circadian rhythm. Its purpose is to synchronize body functions or reinforce them. Melatonin release depends on food intake and stimuli by nutrients, and concentration levels depend on age, gender and if there is an existing disease.

Since the secretion of melatonin stimulates receptors across any barrier reaching all tissues of the body, it has an antioxidant effect, a reaction against free radicals and activation of oxygen intermediates. Due to its properties of antioxidant it protects cells from free radical damage, which may be useful for the treatment of neurgenerative diseases such as Alzheimers. It also helps in reducing blood cholesterol by inhibiting oxidation of cholesterol LDL, reducing BP. It also causes vasodilatation and inhibits inflammation responses. It has effect on the immune system, where immunity influences the amount released. Affects the secretion of steroidal and non steroidal hormones

When there is a disruptance in sleep the pineal gland malfunctions which could be the cause of obesity (chronic inflammation) and metabolic disturbances (high triglycerides in blood, low HDL cholesterol, resistance to insulin, high BP, and inflammation). Research demonstrates that melatonin is sensitive to noroepinephrine and cyclic adenosine monophosphate.

Melatonin Supplementation has been used for sleeping disturbances, jet lag, and metastatic cancer because it has been reported that it changes the circadian rhythm improving sleep patterns, affecting body temperature and cortisol levels. It is quickly absorbed and metabolized. It is most effective when taken in between 10 pm and 12 am. Timing and dosage is of optimal importance. It may promote performance improvement because it acts against inflammation and oxidative damage. It might be most effective for weightloss when taken first thing in the morning to supress cortisol rise not to increase weightloss but to restore normal function to the tissue modified by inflammation and metabolic disturbances. It also can combat overeating, limits growth of fat cells, and stimulates the action of brown fat. Melatonin has profound effect on IGF which is involved in muscle anabolism and suppresses excess cortisol and interferes with its production. But as a dietary supplement it hasnt been regulated for it really hasn’t proven to be important for health.

As with many dietary supplements, you need to be careful with the amount of supplementation of melatonin. Minor side effects include headaches, insomnia, nauseas and even nightmares. And toxic effects are possible if too much is taken, where it could be a down turn instead of helping with body functions. This includes drowsiness, autoimunization, delayed puberty, problems with the reproductive organs, depression, problems with the accumulation of fat, and could have major effects when combined with other medications.

If you choose not to take supplements, you can choose natural food sources to get the optimal dose. There are minor doses of melatonin contained in bananas, oats and corn, but a ½ cup serving of dried tart cherries, or 1 cup of cherry juice or its products contain the most concentrated sources and have been proven to have the same effect of supplements. More melatonin for exercise helps you rest better, even though exercise does not have effect on serum levels, and it might be beneficial for athletes who are competing in other locations of a different time zone for better rest and sleeping patterns upon arrival.
Articles Consulted:
Metabolism of melatonin by human cytochromes P450. Ma, et al. Drug Metabolism and Disposition. 2004.
Melatonin, a potent agent in antioxidant defense: actions as a natural food constituent, gastrointestinal factor, drug, and prodrug. Hardeland and Pandi-Perumal. Nutrition & Metabolism. 2005.
Melatonin: fifty years os scientific journey from the discovery in bovine pineal gland to delineation of functions in humans. Chowdhurry et al. Indian Journal of Biochemistry & Biophysics. 2008.
The therapeutic potential of melatonin: a review of scienceMalhotra, et al. Medscape General Medicine. 2004.
Eating melatonin rich-cherries are “natural” way to reset your body clock when crossing time zones. Kittel. The Cherry Marketing Institute.

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