People have long been fascinated with the fountain of youth and whether it exists or not. It seems that there is now some possibility of the fountain of youth existing. Ever heard of melatonin? If you haven’t then sit tight and let’s explore it.
Melatonin is known as the time-keeping hormone. Naturally produced by the body, it helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Its level decreases in the morning when you are exposed to light and increases at night when dark, making you sleepy.
This hormone is known to play a significant role in a variety of metabolic functions such as neuro-protection and anti-oxidation, immune system support, and anti-inflammatory defense. It also helps re-mediate sleep problems and acts as an anti-depressant. Lately, there has been several studies on melatonin and how it affects aging and age-related diseases.
The Aging Process:
Aging is a physiological process that involves several biochemical reactions in which molecular changes manifest in single cells and in the whole organism. A multi-factorial process, aging involves a heavy load of free radicals and changes in the body’s metabolism, hormones, and immunity.
Melatonin and Aging:
Melatonin is a potent natural anti-oxidant hormone with anti-aging properties. It has been found to have 200 percent more anti-oxidant power compared to vitamin E. Its anti-oxidant properties help protect the skin and tissues from free-radical damage. Free radicals are molecules that contain unpaired electron in their outermost ring, which makes them short-lived and extremely reactive. When oxygen interacts with other chemicals, free radicals are produced. In the past 50 years, there has been growing evidence that link free radical activity to aging and age-related diseases. Because melatonin can cross cell barriers, it is able to perform its anti-oxidation function and protect the fat tissues and proteins in the body effectively.
An increasing number of evidence reveals how melatonin plays a significant role in fighting aging process. There have been studies that link the loss of melatonin to age-related phenomena. Some articles have also highlighted melatonin as an anti-aging substance.
Several pre-clinical studies have also been conducted, which showed that melatonin increased animals’ life span by 20 percent, prolonging their youthful characteristics.
Further experiments performed at the National Institute for Research on Aging (INRCA) in Italy demonstrated that the hormone is capable of counteracting atrophy of the thymus gland thus restoring the organ’s youthful properties to generate mature T-cells.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain. The production starts when the suprachiasmatic nucleus in the hypothalamus signals the pineal gland to begin production. The process is regulated by the body’s biological clock, which means that your circadian clock controls the amount of melatonin your body produces. Normally, the melatonin level begins to elevate in the evening, remains elevated most of the night, and then decreases in the early morning hours. Light affects the production of melatonin. During winter months, the body produces melatonin either earlier or later in the day than the usual.
Production of melatonin decreases with age. Decreased levels of melatonin appear to correlate with deteriorating metabolic functions and decreasing levels of hormones, thus likely contributing to the acceleration of the process of aging. It is for these reasons that experts believe that the hormone’s decline contributes to the aging process and deterioration of health.
Other Sources of Melatonin:
Very small amount of melatonin are found in food such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and grains.
Melatonin can also be bought as a supplement. In adults, it is taken in doses from 0.2mg to 20.0mg, depending on the purpose of its use. The right dose varies with each individual.
Melatonin appears to be able to reduce age-related changes in the bones and body organs, acting as the body’s anti-aging agent. Could it be your own fountain of youth? This hormone may likely have a huge impact on aging, according to chronobiology research studies.