What Is Melatonin and Is It Bad for You?

Reviewed on 10/19/2021

Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body sleep and can be taken as a supplement. Though melatonin supplements are marketed as “natural” sleep aids, it does not mean they are completely harmless and can sometimes cause side effects.
Melatonin is a hormone that helps the body sleep and can be taken as a supplement. Though melatonin supplements are marketed as “natural” sleep aids, it does not mean they are completely harmless and can sometimes cause side effects.

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 supplements are marketed as helping people sleep better without side effects that can accompany prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids. Melatonin may also be used to help with jet lag, stress, and aging.

Melatonin supplements can be purchased without a prescription, and common doses range from 0.1 to 10 milligrams, though 0.5 to 5 milligrams are usually considered safe for typical use in healthy adults.

Though melatonin supplements are marketed as “natural” sleep aids, it does not mean they are completely harmless. 

What Are the Side Effects of Melatonin?

Side effects of melatonin use are uncommon and may include: 

Is It Possible to Overdose on Melatonin?

Higher doses of melatonin are not necessarily better, and excess melatonin can pose health risks. Symptoms of excess melatonin may include:

Is It Safe to Take Melatonin?

  • Melatonin may also interact with blood thinners and benzodiazepines. 
  • Some research suggests long-term melatonin use may affect reproductive hormones.
  • The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers melatonin to be a dietary supplement, which means melatonin supplements do not undergo the same rigorous research and testing as prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids.
  • Because of this, there can be a wide variety in the ingredients, dose, preparation, and purity of melatonin supplements which 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. Consumers can find reliable formulations by looking for United States Pharmacopeial Convention Verified labels.
  • Tell your doctor before taking any supplements. 

 

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Reviewed on 10/19/2021
References
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/melatonin/melatonin-overdose