Natural melatonin in foods can be found in small amounts and best source of natural melatonin are some vegetables, fruits, meat and grains.
Melatonin is also known as natural sleep aid. Melatonin is a hormone synthesized in the brain by the pineal gland and in the gastrointestinal tract. Melatonin is also synthesized in other organisms including plants.
Melatonin is an antioxidant and protects tissues from oxidative damage by free radical elements.
Concentrations of this hormone increase in your body as night approaches because darkness stimulates the release of this chemical, causing you to become sleepy. Eating foods containing melatonin is a natural way to help increase the amount of the hormone in your body. Melatonin also is said to help with jet lag and slowing the aging process.
Melatonin is also being studied to see if it can be used to treat sleep problems in people who are blind. Since these people cannot see light, they may have sleep problems such as sleeping during the day and being awake at night.
Natural melatonin levels slowly drop with age. Some older adults make very small amounts of it or none at all.
Foods high in melatonin
|Natural melatonin sources||Melatonin content (nanograms/gram)|
|Huang-qin or Baikal Skullcap||7,110|
|St. John’s wort, flower||4,390|
|Fever few, green leaf||2,450|
|Fever few, gold leaf||1,920|
|St. John’s wort, leaf||1,750|
|White mustard seed||189|
|Black mustard seed||129|
|Wolf berry seed||103|
|Lemon verbena, young plant||22|
|Balm mint, young plant||16|
|Green cardamom seed||15|
|Tart cherry, Montmorency, fruit||15|
Natural melatonin supplements
Melatonin supplements have been available in the United States since 1996.
It may be that melatonin, when taken as a supplement, can stop or slow the spread of cancer, make the immune system stronger, or slow down the aging process.
You can buy melatonin supplements without a prescription at health food stores, drugstores, and online. Melatonin should only be taken in its man-made form. The form that comes from ground-up cow pineal glands is rarely used, since it may spread disease.
Research shows that decreased melatonin can cause many sleep disturbances including a lack of good quality sleep, insomnia and wakefulness.
Melatonin dosage and side effects
In adults, melatonin is taken in doses from 0.2 to 20.0 mg, based on the reason for its use. The right dose varies widely from one person to another. Talk to your doctor to learn the right dosage and to find out if melatonin is right for you.
The National Institutes of Health have found that generally, administering 0.5 to 50 mg of melatonin can help an individual fall asleep. Some studies suggest sleep latency (the time it takes to fall asleep) is reduced when melatonin is taken 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime. This is true for adults over 18.
In most cases, melatonin supplements are safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use. But be sure to talk with your doctor about taking them.
Children and pregnant or nursing women should not take melatonin without talking to a doctor first.
Melatonin does have side effects. But they will go away when you stop taking the supplement.
Side effects include:
- Changes in blood vessels that may affect blood flow
- Lower body temperature
- Stomach problems.
- Morning grogginess.
- Vivid dreams.