This article is shared with permission from our friends at Vitagene.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a neurodegenerative condition that causes ongoing damage to the cells in the brain, affecting memory, speech, and mobility, and making it difficult to carry out some normal, everyday tasks. It’s a very common condition, and it’s estimated that around 25 million people have Alzheimer’s Disease around the world. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s, but there are some treatment options.

New Alzheimer’s research has focused upon more natural ways to manage the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Vitamins such as vitamin B6 and vitamin B9 have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, but perhaps of even more interest is the recent research into ways to minimize some of the symptoms in existing patients, helping them to enjoy a higher quality of life. One of the most promising natural treatments for Alzheimer’s is melatonin.

What is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a chronobiotic hormone, which means that it’s produced rhythmically by the pineal gland, giving it a certain power and control over internal processes. Thanks to the synchronized production, melatonin has the ability to influence the body’s cycle throughout the day; essentially, the body knows when melatonin is secreted, and operates accordingly. There are many aspects that are believed to be somewhat regulated by the production and release of melatonin, including the sleep/wake cycle, core temperature, and brain-body communications through neurological pathways.

In terms of the melatonin-Alzheimer’s link, studies have suggested that Alzheimer’s Disease slows down melatonin production, which is why patients suffer with disorganization, sleep disturbances, and memory impairment. It may also be partly responsible for ‘sundowning’; a common occurrence in dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease where symptoms appear to be more severe during the night.

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Melatonin for Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

On the surface, increasing melatonin intake through melatonin supplementation can help to regulate bodily processes, fine tune the body’s cycle, and ultimately help to minimize the symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. However, the benefits of melatonin for this condition actually run a little deeper.

As well as being a chronobiotic hormone and helping to regulate cycles, melatonin is an antioxidant, too. This means that it can help to combat oxidative stress to DNA, proteins, and lipids, which has long been thought to contribute towards the development of neurodegenerative disease. Melatonin also has neuroprotective properties, helping brain cells to stay healthy, even during the early stages of dementia.

Sources of Melatonin

As there are many foods that are naturally high in melatonin, it may be possible to follow an ‘Alzheimer’s diet’ to increase melatonin levels in the body. Foods that contain melatonin include sour or tart cherries, nuts like walnuts and peanuts, fruits such as strawberries and bananas, and drinks like tea and red wine.

It’s also possible to take a melatonin supplement if it is more convenient to do so. There are currently no official guidelines relating to a suitable melatonin dosage for adults or children, so it is advised to carefully follow any manufacturer’s instructions when taking food supplements. Melatonin for Alzheimer’s Disease has primarily been tested with a melatonin dosage of 3mg, 6mg, and 9mg given daily before bed, all of which have been found to significantly improve classic symptoms of dementia.

Is Melatonin Safe?

One of the benefits of melatonin is that it is a natural hormone, and therefore it is considered to be very safe. However, there are some minor melatonin side effects to be aware of, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, and fatigue. While generally safe, melatonin does have known interactions with some common medications, so melatonin should not be taken if you’re on anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, or anti-anxiety medications, along with blood thinning or steroid-based medications. This is because melatonin may reduce the efficacy of these medications.

Interested in discovering if melatonin is right for you? Vitagene provides actionable intelligence about your ancestry, health traits, and helps you create healthy, lasting change in your life with a diet, exercise, and supplement recommendations based on your DNA, lifestyle, family history, and goals. 

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