Melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps regulate other hormones and maintains the body's circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is an internal 24-hour "clock" that plays a critical role in when we fall asleep and when we wake up. When it is dark, your body produces more melatonin. When it is light, the production of melatonin drops. Being exposed to bright lights in the evening, or too little light during the day, can disrupt the body's normal melatonin cycles. For example, jet lag, shift work, and poor vision can disrupt melatonin cycles.

Melatonin also helps control the timing and release of female reproductive hormones. It helps determine when a woman starts to menstruate, the frequency and duration of menstrual cycles, and when a woman stops menstruating (menopause). Preliminary research suggests low levels of melatonin help identify women at risk of a pregnancy complication called pre-eclampsia.

Some researchers also believe that melatonin levels may be related to aging. For example, young children have the highest levels of nighttime melatonin. Researchers believe these levels drop as we age. Some people think lower levels of melatonin may explain why some older adults have sleep problems and tend to go to bed and wake up earlier than when they were younger. However, newer research calls this theory into question.

Melatonin has strong antioxidant effects. Preliminary evidence suggests that it may help strengthen the immune system.

If you are considering using melatonin supplements, talk to your doctor first.

I Would Like to Learn About:

Related Information

Supplements with Similar Side Effects

View List by Side Effect

Supplements with Similar Uses

View List by Use

Supplements with Similar Warnings

View List by Warning

Uses of this Supplement

Anorexia nervosaAtherosclerosisAttention deficit hyperactivity disorderBreast cancerDepressionViral encephalitisErythemaInsomniaMenopauseOsteoporosisProstate cancerRheumatoid arthritisSarcoidosisSeizure disorders

Drugs that Interact

Summary

Drugs that Deplete this Substance

View List

Learn More About

Nutrition

Review Date: 2/3/2016  

Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2019 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.