Melatonin: Effects, Risks, Supplement Alert!

Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body during the night. It promotes sleep. It is found in several sleep supplements, available in pharmacies. They are not without risk and are not recommended for certain people, recalls the Repression of Fraud.

[Updated November 15, 2022 at 12:12 p.m.] Be careful with melatonin supplements , recalls the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention, in a statement of November 15. The market for melatonin-based food supplements has grown considerably in recent years (about 700 new references between 2019 and 2021). But only two health claims relating to melatonin are authorized in France:

Melatonin helps reduce the effects of jet lag. This claim may only be used for a food containing at least 0.5 mg of melatonin per serving and if the consumer is informed that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming at least 0.5 mg just before bedtime the first day of the trip and the few days following the day of arrival at destination

Melatonin helps reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. This claim can only be used for a food containing 1 mg of melatonin per serving and if the consumer is informed that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming 1 mg before bedtime.

The results of a survey conducted by the DFCCRF in 2021 indicate that the consumer is not correctly informed about the dose of melatonin necessary to obtain the advertised effect (from 1 mg for the reduction of sleep time and of 0.5 mg for that of the effect of jet lag). 45% of the labels examined are therefore not compliant the provisions of the regulation defining the conditions for the use of health claims relating to melatonin. Consumers should exercise caution when consuming these supplements and should not hesitate to seek the advice of a healthcare professional before using them. So what are the precautions? What dangers? For who ? How long ?



Definition: What is melatonin?

The melatonin is a hormone secreted mainly by the epiphysis overnight. Its physiological function is to provide the body, the brain in particular, with information on the nychthemeron (day/night alternation during a 24-hour cycle), thus promoting sleep . It is therefore a hormone that regulates chronobiological rhythms , releasing other hormones depending on the time of day or night. The production of melatonin causes the need for sleep. ' It also contributes to the proper functioning of our thermostat, our immune system, our appetite and the regulation of our blood sugar' , explains Dr. Patrick Lemoine, sleep expert psychiatrist. It helps to promote sleep and is used in certain drugs and food supplements .

What is natural melatonin?

Melatonin is synthesized overnight in the brain from serotonin.

What is synthetic melatonin in pharmacies?

Melatonin can be taken in food supplements to help you fall asleep. They are available in pharmacies. But this use is not trivial and must be accompanied by precautions. Only two health claims relating to melatonin are authorized, recalls the Repression of Fraud.

► ' Melatonin helps reduce the effects of jet lag '. This claim may only be used for a food containing at least 0.5 mg of melatonin per serving and if the consumer is informed that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming at least 0.5 mg immediately before bedtime on the first day of the trip and the few days following the day of arrival at destination

► ' Melatonin helps to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep' . This claim can only be used for a food containing 1 mg of melatonin per serving and if the consumer is informed that the beneficial effect is obtained by consuming 1 mg before bedtime.

Melatonin promotes sleep and regulates our sleep/wake cycles

What are the properties of melatonin?

Melatonin plays many roles in our body:

  • It regulates our sleep/wake cycle: the production of melatonin dictates its rhythm to the brain.
  • It promotes sleep: in the evening, the production of this hormone signals to the brain that it is time to fall asleep.
  • It has beneficial effects against jet lag : a study was carried out a few years ago by the Armed Forces Health Service who had tested this hormone on fighter pilots. Result: those who had been prescribed melatonin recovered better and especially faster from jet lag than those who had not taken it.
  • It has antioxidant properties: it is therefore an anti-cancer and anti-aging ally.

Indications: when to take melatonin?

It is recommended for promote sleep and more restful sleep . It has the advantage of not causing addiction, unlike sleeping pills. ' It is also recommended for frequent travelers to limit the effects of jet lag, especially when traveling east with at least three time zones apart. , says Dr. Lemoine.

What are melatonin medications?

Mechanism of Action: Why Does Melatonin Help Sleep?

It is a boost for better sleep. ' Two studies published in 2005 showed that this treatment decreased the time it took to fall asleep in people with insomnia. In 60% of cases, it also helps improve the quality of deep sleep, the most restorative phase.' says the psychiatrist.

What is the maximum dosage of melatonin?

The dosage is 1 mg taken 30 minutes before going to bed, not to exceed 2 mg per day. ' It is advisable to take a tablet of melatonin and gradually increase the dose in case of ineffectiveness until taking the minimum effective dose “, recommends our expert.

Limit the intake of food supplements containing melatonin.

What are the side effects of melatonin?

Melatonin-based drugs and dietary supplements can be dangerous for certain populations, alerted ANSES in an advisory published on April 11, 2018. Indeed, between September 2016 and May 2017, 90 cases of adverse reactions occurring following the intake of dietary supplements containing melatonin were reported. The analysis of these cases enabled ANSES to identify populations and situations at risk, in which 'the consumption of melatonin in the form of a food supplement should be avoided or subject to the advice of a doctor 'Said the statement. Several symptoms have been reported, including: headaches, dizziness, cases of somnolence , nightmares, irritability, as well as neurological (tremors, migraines) and gastroenterological (nausea, vomiting , abdominal pain). ANSES recommends in particular people suffering from inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, pregnant and breastfeeding women, children and adolescents not to consume melatonin in the form of food supplements. The same goes for people who have to carry out an activity that requires sustained vigilance and that can pose a safety problem in the event of drowsiness. In addition, medical advice is recommended for people with epilepsy, asthma, mood, behavior or personality disorders, or on medication.

What are the risks and dangers of taking melatonin?

Melatonin can be obtained without a prescription in doses below 2 mg. It is not recommended to buy melatonin on the Internet. Prefer to buy instead pharmacy . In fact, some studies have shown that quality of the capsules contained in the boxes was very variable . Some were even placebos or even contained potentially toxic impurities. 'However, it is best to seek advice from your doctor or pharmacist as there may be a risk theoretical combined with medications such as anticoagulants “, warns Dr. Lemoine.

What precautions should be taken when taking melatonin supplements?

In 2018, ANSES published an opinion on the risks of consuming food supplements containing melatonin, which recommends:

► To advise against this consumption for sensitive people, in particular those suffering from inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and adolescents, people who have to carry out an activity requiring sustained vigilance and which may pose a safety problem in the event of drowsiness.

► To submit this consumption to medical advice for people with epilepsy, people with asthma, people suffering from mood, behavior or personality disorders and people on medication.

► To limit the intake of melatonin to occasional use.

► To favor simple formulations that do not combine melatonin with other ingredients.

► From do not exceed the dose of 2 mg per day of melatonin

Thanks to Dr. Patrick Lemoine, sleep expert psychiatrist.

Source journaldesfemmes.fr