When the lights go out our body begins to produce Melatonin – Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. In humans, melatonin is produced in several tissues, including the brain (pineal gland), retina, and GI tract. In the brain, melatonin synthesis is stimulated by darkness. Once synthesized, it enters the blood stream and acts as an endocrine hormone involved in sleep regulation and a number of other cyclical physiological functions. Daily biological rhythms thought to be influenced by melatonin include activity/sleep, core body temperature, immune function, antioxidant defenses, blood pressure, feeding, and glucose regulation.
We’ve all heard of taking melatonin to help with jet lag or to help fall asleep. As we age we produce less melatonin which could be one reason why it seems to be harder to get a good nights sleep as we age.
Besides helping us sleep melatonin plays a key role in rejuvenating the skin through its interactions with major skin cells such as keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Melatonin protects keratinocytes against cell death, while stimulating the growth of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts produce the essential proteins collagen and elastin, which provide structural support for the skin. As we age, these fibroblast cells start to develop dramatic mitochondrial dysfunction, rendering them less able to produce enough energy to fulfill their role in supporting the skin. This is borne out in animal research showing that a deficiency in melatonin reduced skin thickness, increases lipid peroxidation, and induces skin degenerative changes – all of which have been shown to be improved with melatonin.
Oral melatonin passes from the small intestine to the liver where most of it is processed and becomes inactive. I recommend a brand of pharmaceutical grade melatonin which is dissolved in the mouth where it is absorbed directly into the blood unaltered by the liver.
Most of the commercially sources of melatonin are from animal sources and the product quality is very inconsistent. The brand I recommend is not from animal sources and of exceptionally high quality.