Image credit: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4151498/
Although melatonin is known as a hormone that helps you sleep, it has many other health benefits. Read this post to learn about ways to increase or decrease melatonin levels. If you’re looking for a complete guide on how to get your best night’s sleep every night check out our book Biohacking Insomnia.
Factors That Increase Melatonin Levels
1) Melatonin Supplements
In a review of 35 studies, researchers found that melatonin supplementation slightly improves sleep quality (R).
Melatonin shows promise in improving insomnia and reducing jet lag. It also does not have any serious side effects (R).
Although the optimal dosage is not yet determined, researchers recommend a lower dosage range. Even at low dosages, there is already a significant increase in melatonin levels after administration (R).
The recommended dosage range for elderly adults is 0.3 – 2 mg, around 1 hour before bedtime (R).
2) Vitamins and Minerals
In rats, vitamin B6 injections strengthen melatonin production. After two months of B6 injections, the blood level of melatonin increased by 35.95% (R).
Zinc supplementation increases melatonin levels in rats (R).
3) Food and Drinks that Increase Melatonin Levels (R):
- Tomato (R)
- Walnuts (R)
- Barley and rye (R)
- Strawberries (R)
- Cherries (R)
- Olive oil (R)
- Unprocessed cow milk (R)
- Grape wine (R)
- Beer (R)
4) Traditional Chinese Herbs:
- Periostracum cicadae (Chantui) (R)
- Babreum coscluea (Shiya Tea-Leaf) (R)
- Uncaria rhynchophylla (Gouteng) (R)
- Viola philippica Cav (Diding) (R)
- Phellodendron amurense (Huangbo) (R)
- Mori Albae Cortex (Sangbaipi) (R)
- Coptis chinensis (Huanglian) (R)
- Angelica sinsensis (Danghui) (R)
- Ziziphus ujube (Suanzhaoren) (R)
- Salvia miltiorrhiza (Danshen) (R)
- Panax notoginseng (Sangqui) (R)
- Curcuma aeruginosa (Erzhu) (R)
- Schisandra Chinensis (Wuweizi) (R)
Factors that Decrease Melatonin Levels
- Beta blockers: Beta blockers are drugs that help lower blood pressure. Beta blockers decrease melatonin release. They do this by inhibiting specific receptors (R).
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): NSAIDs, including aspirin and several other over the counter painkiller drugs, suppress nighttime melatonin levels (R).
2) Blue Light Exposure At Night
3) Other Factors
- Aging: The pineal gland, which produces melatonin, contains cells called pinealocytes. The number of pinealocytes decreases with age. This then decreases melatonin production (R).
- Fasting: Fasting reduces the nighttime secretion of melatonin. Short-term fasting from 2 to 7 days reduces blood melatonin levels by 20% (R)
- Nutrient deficiencies: Folate, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies are linked with lower melatonin levels in rats (R).
Factors that Modify Melatonin Receptors
How to Increase/Activate Melatonin Receptor Activity
Agonists (activators) are agents, usually drugs, which bind and increase the activity of a receptor. The following are melatonin activators.
- Agomelatine binds MT1 and MT2 receptors (R).
- Tasimelteon also has a high affinity for MT1 and MT2 receptors (R).
- Ramelteon is a selective MT1 and MT2 activator. Its binding affinity to melatonin receptors is higher than melatonin itself. It is used to treat insomnia (R, R).
- TIK-301 is a melatonin receptor activator (R).
Factors that Decrease/Block Melatonin Receptor Activity
- During aging and Alzheimer’s disease, MT1 receptor expression in the SCN and cortex decreases. MT2 receptor expression is also reduced during Alzheimer’s disease (R).
- Luzindole is a competitive MT2 melatonin receptor antagonist. This means it blocks receptor function (R).
- P-PDOT blocks the MT2 melatonin receptor (R).
- S29434 blocks the MT3 receptor (R).
- Caffeine blocks melatonin signaling/transmission (R).
Melatonin Supplement and Drug Interactions
1) Melatonin and Various Vitamins Work Together
A combination of vitamin D3 and melatonin can stop human breast cancer cell growth (R).
Additionally, in calf DNA, melatonin and vitamin C worked together to make a powerful antioxidant action (R).
Meanwhile, vitamin E and melatonin combine to stop oxidative damage in rat livers (R).
2) Melatonin Works with Alpha-Lipoic Acid
When used in combination with melatonin, alpha-lipoic acid stopped DNA damage 3 times more effectively than when it was used alone. Melatonin and alpha-lipoic acid worked together to protect calf DNA from oxidative stress (R).
3) Melatonin Stimulates Glutathione Activity
Melatonin and glutathione combined had a greater antioxidant effect than when either was given individually. Their antioxidant activity combined to have a greater effect in rat livers (R).
Melatonin also helps stimulates glutathione activity in rat brains. They work together to eliminate peroxides and free radicals that cause oxidative damage (R).
4) Melatonin and Selenium Synergistic Effects
Brain ischemia is a condition that occurs when there is not enough blood flow to the brain. It can lead to the death of brain tissue or even stroke. Free radicals and oxidative damage can cause brain ischemia (R).
Melatonin and selenium work together to improve the treatment of ischemia in male rats. This combination helped reduce injury and prevented brain inflammation (R).
5) Melatonin Works with Galantamine
Human nerve cells treated with a combination of galantamine and melatonin were protected from oxidative damage. Very little concentrations of each substance by themselves did not show any effect. However, a combination of both had antioxidant effects (R).
6) Melatonin and Atorvastatin Combine Effects
The addition of atorvastatin to melatonin therapy can enhance the effects of melatonin. It prevents harmful actions of the medication, reduces inflammatory action, and lowers free radical production (R).
7) Melatonin Interferes with EGCG
However, high doses of EGCG or green tea extracts can cause hepatotoxicity (liver damage). Melatonin reduces toxicity due to EGCG overdose (R).
In one study, researchers gave mice toxic and lethal doses of EGCG. Melatonin extended the survival time of mice given toxic doses of EGCG. Meanwhile, it also helped reduce liver injury caused by a nonlethal toxic dose of EGCG (R).
8) Melatonin Reverses Resveratrol’s Pro-Oxidant Activity
Resveratrol has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. However, it can also exhibit pro-oxidant action. It contributes to oxidative damage of cellular DNA in the presence of transition metal ions (R).
Resveratrol, in the presence of other antioxidants, loses its pro-oxidant action and acts as an antioxidant. Melatonin was highly effective in reversing resveratrol’s pro-oxidant DNA damage in calf DNA. However, melatonin and resveratrol’s combined actions do not combine to make a greater (synergistic) antioxidant effect (R).
Melatonin Part 3 of a 3-Part Series
- Melatonin Part 1: 24 Surprising Health Benefits of Melatonin – Sleep, Brain, Gut Health, Antiaging, Cancer, Fertility, and more
- Melatonin Part 2: Surprising Roles of Melatonin in Controlling Inflammation and Preventing Autoimmune Diseases
- Melatonin Part 3: Ways to Increase and Decrease Melatonin, and Food/Drug/Supplement Interactions
- Under the control of the AANAT gene, the stomach makes melatonin (R).
- Melatonin also protected the liver from damage in an experimental setting (R).
- Results for melatonin are better than those for ascorbic acid and β-carotene (R).
- It also increases the efficacy of chemotherapy drugs such as doxorubicin (R).
- There is about 100 times more MT in the stomach than blood (R).
- Mice that had their MT1 receptors knocked out not only had severe sleep disturbances, they also had depressive behaviors (R).
- In mouse mitochondria, directly incubating mitochondria with MT improves various parameters of their activity; it also improves production of the main energy molecule – ATP (R).
- The MT2 receptor is lower in the eyes of Alzheimer’s patients (R).
- Agomelatine is an MT analog that is able to activate both MT receptors in the same time block where the 5-HT2c receptor binds with serotonin (R).
- Melatonin prevents cell death more effectively than other antioxidants, like vitamin E, glutathione, mannitol, and vitamin C (R).
- Melatonin also increases the efficacy of treatment with IL-2 in patients with stomach cancers (R).