Melatonin in times of Covid-19
When I was in the hospital, along with Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and zinc, I was given melatonin for sleep. I have used it for sleep before; however, I didn’t know it is one of the supplements being recommended during the pandemic. Why? Here is some information I read on Netdoctor:
One of the important things we need to be paying attention to during this time is the importance of sleep for keeping our immune systems strong. Called the “sleep hormone,” melatonin helps regulate our circadian rhythm, which is a naturally occurring 24-hour cycle that is part of the body’s internal clock. It is produced by the pineal gland and secreted into the blood stream and the cerebrospinal fluid. Darkness signals our brain to release melatonin, while light, including blue light from our TV, computer, and cellphones, halts this production. The body will start producing melatonin as day turns into night. It peaks during the middle of the night until early morning. It can be found in foods, such as vegetables, fruits, rice, and wheat. It is also sold as a dietary supplement, although it is not known how this affects our bodies long term.
Melatonin has some other functions that are not as well-known. It has an anti-oxidant effect as well as affecting reproduction and bone formation. But the most interesting function these days is that it enhances the immune system. It stimulates the natural killer cell activity, inhibits cell death in immune cells, and regulates the cytokine ( inflammatory ) response of the body. Some additional benefits are helping us maintain our daily mood, protecting us from gastrointestinal problems, and promoting our cognitive functioning.
What causes low melatonin? Nutrient deficiencies and high stress levels are the main reasons. Not getting enough natural light during the day and exposure to blue light at night tend to cause a decrease. Smoking and drinking alcohol at night tend to decrease our melatonin levels. There are also some disorders that can affect healthy levels of melatonin, such as dementia, mood disorders, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, and breathing disorders.
Melatonin is manufactured from tryptophan, an amino acid. Some foods that have been recommended are sea vegetables ( seaweed and spirulina ), nuts, (especially pistachios), eggs, and fish.