the “Sleep Hormone” With Unexpected Ergogenic and Far Reaching Anti-Oxidant Effects

The potent antioxidant effects of the purported “sleep hormone” melatonin are still largely underappreciated even within the medical community and that despite the fact that a recent study from the University of Hyderabad in India, which shows that the administration of melatonin can restore the endogenous production of glutathione and other antioxidants in the liver of aged rodents to youthful levels and thus reduce the health threatening increases in lipid peroxidation (Makonda. 2012), is by no means the first empirical evidence of the antioxidant potency of N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine aka Melatonin.

In fact, this paper which appeared in the September issue of Biogerontology, only adds to a whole host of previously published beneficial effects of melatonin that go way beyond its well-established ability to help you fall asleep (Rondanelli. 2011).

In 2011, for example, Ochoa et al. reported that a “pre-loading” protocol consisting of 5x 3mg capsules of melatonin, which were taken in the three days leading to an ultra-endurance race in the Sierra Nevada (50 km with a height difference of 2800 m) minimized the exercise induced oxidative stress in 20 highly trained ultra-endurance runners and thus maintained the cellular integrity and reduced the secondary tissue damage the athletes suffered from during the race (Ochoa. 2011).

Similar effects have been observed by Maldanado et al. who investigated the effects the ingestion of 6mg of melatonin 30 min before an intense 1h-HIT workout on stationary bikes (heart rate >135bpm) had on plasma markers of lipid oxidation in professional soccer players (Maldonado. 2011).
And in a recent letter to the editor of the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Rafia Fzal references more than a dozen of studies reporting beneficial or preventive effects of melatonin on …

• obesity and the metabolic syndrome
• circadian rhythmicity and antioxidant activity in brain, the cardiovascular system, liver and gallbladder, the intestines, kidney and skin
• depression and seasonal effective disorder
• bacterial and viral infections
• immune function and auto-immune diseases
• cancer protection
• reproductive function
• and more

… to support her hypothesis that “melatonin is now evolving as a versatile and multifunctional molecule, with promising role in different clinical conditions.” (Afzal. 2012) And based on poster presentations and lectures on pertinent conferences it is easy we can confidently say that more research is already on its way.
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Afzal R. Melatonin: Miracles far beyond the pineal gland. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Jul;16(4):672-4.
Maldonado MD, Manfredi M, Ribas-Serna J, Garcia-Moreno H, Calvo JR. Melatonin administrated immediately before an intense exercise reverses oxidative stress, improves immunological defenses and lipid metabolism in football players. Physiol Behav. 2012 Mar 20;105(5):1099-103.
Manikonda PK, Jagota A. Melatonin administration differentially affects age-induced alterations in daily rhythms of lipid peroxidation and antioxidant enzymes in male rat liver. Biogerontology. 2012 Sep 9.
Ochoa JJ, Díaz-Castro J, Kajarabille N, García C, Guisado IM, De Teresa C, Guisado R. Melatonin supplementation ameliorates oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling induced by strenuous exercise in adult human males. J Pineal Res. 2011 Nov;51(4):373-80.
Rondanelli M, Opizzi A, Monteferrario F, Antoniello N, Manni R, Klersy C. The effect of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc on primary insomnia in long-term care facility residents in Italy: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2011 Jan;59(1):82-90.

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