What Is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland at night that plays a role in the body’s sleep-wake cycle, preparing the body for sleep as it gets dark.
Melatonin is marketed as an aid to help with sleep, jet lag, stress, and aging.
What Is the Dosage for Melatonin?
There is not a one-size-fits all ideal dose of melatonin for sleep.
- Dosing and response to the hormone can vary from one individual to another based on age, gender, the time the supplement is taken, the person’s sleep problems, and other underlying health issues. For example, elderly people may be more sensitive to the effects of melatonin supplements and should take the lowest possible dose.
- Melatonin supplements can be purchased without a prescription, and common doses range from 0.1 to 10 milligrams, though between 0.5 to 5 milligrams is usually considered a safe and effective dose for healthy adults.
How Much Melatonin Is Too Much?
For melatonin, higher doses are not necessarily better, and excess melatonin can pose health risks. Symptoms of taking excess melatonin may include:
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Worsening of alopecia areata (an autoimmune disorder that causes hair loss)
- Can produce depression in people who have depression or who are predisposed to it (however, some studies have shown melatonin may be used in some people to help treat depression)
- Increased seizures in patients with epilepsy
Is Melatonin Safe?
Melatonin supplements are marketed as “natural” sleep aids, though it does not mean they are harmless. There are some reports that suggest that long-term melatonin use may affect reproductive hormones.
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers melatonin to be a dietary supplement, which means melatonin supplements are not required to undergo the same rigorous research and testing as prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids. This means there may be a wide variety in the ingredients, dose, preparation, and purity of melatonin supplements.
- These differences may result in a significantly different impact on the body, even for the same dosage. In addition, dosages listed on supplement labels are often inaccurate and do not contain the labeled dose. Look for United States Pharmacopeial Convention Verified labels to find reliable preparations.
Can You Take Melatonin While Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Pregnant and breastfeeding people should consult their doctor before using melatonin supplements, as there is not enough research into the safety of melatonin among this population.
Can Kids Take Melatonin?
Most children may take melatonin in small doses for short-term use.
- The effective dosage for children ranges from 0.05 milligrams per kilogram to 5 milligrams of melatonin.
- Consult your child’s pediatrician before giving them melatonin.
What Drugs Interact with Melatonin?
Melatonin may also interact with blood thinners and benzodiazepines.
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