Brain Scientists Marvel at This Nutrient

Taking hormones to fight aging can be an iffy proposition. But there’s one anti-aging hormone that is perfectly legal, very safe and that has garnered strong support from cutting-edge medical researchers. They marvel at its ability to support the aging brain and fight oxidative stress. And this inexpensive hormone is sitting on the shelves of practically every pharmacy in the country.

Now, we’re not talking about body builders taking steroids to build muscle, or older women using hormone replacement therapy to stave off the discomforts of menopause. And it’s not human growth hormone that many people take to rejuvenate the body. What is it?

Supplementing with this hormone, whose production in the body falters as you age, is acquiring a growing reputation as a safe way to defend your mental and physical well-being as you grow older.

The side effects of this hormone? It may help you sleep better and lose weight, effects that are a far cry from the potential cancers, heart problems and disrupted sexual function that may be the unintended results of taking other hormones.

The benign hormone with the desirable side effects is melatonin. Your body makes this natural substance in the pineal gland, a diminutive, bean-sized organ within the brain, located in its very center, between the brain’s hemispheres.

With the passing years, your pineal gland secretes less and less melatonin. Some researchers believe this falloff in the body’s melatonin production is a key factor that makes older people more susceptible to sleep problems and brain dysfunction.

Combine It With This And Get Even Better Results

A lab study in Barcelona, Spain, shows that a combination of exercise and melatonin may produce a synergistic benefit that defends the brain against mutations associated with Alzheimer’s disease. In this lab test on animals, a melatonin and exercise combination was shown to be effective against the harm linked to three different mutations.1

“For years we have known that the combination of different anti-aging therapies such as physical exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and not smoking adds years to one’s life,” says researcher Coral Sanfeliu. “Now it seems that melatonin, the sleep hormone, also has important anti-aging effects.”

The Spanish study demonstrated that melatonin protects brain tissue from oxidative damage and helps defuse impairments linked to amyloid beta peptide, a harmful protein that collects in the brain during the development of Alzheimer’s. In addition, the hormone helps maintain the mitochondrial function in brain cells. Mitochondria are the structures responsible for a cell’s energy production. Injury to the mitochondria often result in illnesses like Parkinson’s disease.

“Even though many more studies and clinical tests are still required to assess the doses of melatonin which will be effective for a wide range of diseases, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of melatonin mean that its use is highly recommended for diseases which feature oxidative stress and inflammation,” says researcher Darío Acuña-Castroviejo.

Acuña-Castroviejo believes melatonin can be useful for alleviating epilepsy, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and even the aging process itself.

Best Ways To Take It

If you decide to take melatonin supplements, experts at the Mayo Clinic caution that it can interact with birth control pills, blood thinning pharmaceuticals, diabetes treatments and immunosuppressants.2 Those being treated with those types of medications should consult a doctor before taking melatonin pills.

I might add that melatonin makes me hyper and disturbs my sleep patterns — a side effect that is probably rare for this highly-recommended supplement. Melatonin is also found in a variety of vegetarian foods including almonds, mustard, cherries, flax seed, Goji berries, cardamom, sunflower seeds, coriander, fenugreek and fennel.

You may already know that melatonin supplements can help you sleep better. (And if you sleep in the complete dark, you help your body make more melatonin.) Research also shows that melatonin may encourage the body to make beige fat, a specialized fat tissue under the skin that burns off extra calories. Other studies have shown that melatonin can help reduce triglycerides (blood fats), boost HDL (good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol.3

Matter of fact, melatonin has so many benefits you may have trouble deciding which ones are the effects you’re aiming for and which are the “side effects.”