Melatonin Benefits: Can it Also Help Protect the Brain?
It’s been well established that melatonin benefits sleep patterns and is an excellent antioxidant. But have we been underestimating the perks of this bedtime nutrient?Dementia is a devastating disease characterized by loss of normal thoughts parameters and memory. It will strike one in ten over the age of 65 and nearly half by the time they reach 85. These scary statistics mean that virtually everyone will be touched in some way by this insidious illness at some point in their lives. But a rapidly growing library of scientific evidence indicates that higher levels of certain nutrients may be able to significantly lower our risk of developing memory problems. Most recently, scientists were surprised to find that melatonin may offer some promising perks.
Researchers from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute in Spain, publishing in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, have found that the combination of two neuroprotective therapies have been shown to have a synergistic effect against brain deterioration in several common variants of Alzheimer’s disease. These therapies are voluntary physical exercise and the daily intake of melatonin.
Melatonin Benefits: Exercise and Melatonin Significantly Lower the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease Progression
The study authors found that regular voluntary exercise and daily intake of melatonin, both of which are known for the effects they have in regulating circadian rhythm, show a synergistic effect against brain deterioration. This effect leads to the memory-robbing disease in a mouse model predisposed to develop the illness. Lead author Dr. Coral Sanfeliu commented, “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. Now it seems that melatonin, the sleep hormone, also has important anti-aging effects.”
Researchers sought to determine the effect of physical activity and melatonin supplementation on developing Alzheimer’s dementia. They divided the genetically-predisposed mice into three control groups. Then, they compared them to animals that had no known inclination to develop dementia. The animals were designated to undergo different treatment protocols. These included exercise by allowing unrestricted use of a running wheel, melatonin supplementation with a dose equivalent to 10 mg per kg of body weight, and a combination of melatonin and voluntary physical exercise.
Walking Daily and Taking Melatonin Each Night Lowers Risk of Alzheimer’s Dementia
After a period of six months the study authors concluded, “The state of the mice undergoing treatment was closer to that of the mice with no mutations than to their own initial pathological state. From this we can say that the disease has significantly regressed.” The genetically predisposed mice demonstrated a general improvement in behavior, learning and memory with the three treatments. It should be noted that mice are commonly used for this type of research. Since they share similar neurobiology characteristics with humans.
Numerous prior studies have highlighted the importance of supplementation with melatonin (1 to 5 mg, 30 minutes before bedtime) to encourage natural sleep rhythms, and to help lower risks from cancer and cardiovascular disease. We can now add the combination of regular physical activity and melatonin supplementation to the growing list of health benefits. The therapy is shown to provide another potent tool in the battle to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.