While you might know melatonin as a sleep supporting supplement did you also know it's a potent antioxidant, helping to fight off free radical damage that comes with aging?
Melatonin is a hormone
Melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, it helps to protect vital cellular structures within the body. Due to the fact that melatonin production diminishes as we grow older it's thought that it's decline may be a contributing factor to the aging process. Therefore it's not a stretch to suggest that supplementing with melatonin may play a key role in supporting our bodies as we age.
So how does it work?
The free radical theory of aging basically means that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time. Free radical damage within cells has also been linked to a range of disorders including cancer, arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes.
Antioxidants help to stop the damage done by free radicals to the body which is associated with aging and as we've already discovered melatonin is a powerful antioxidant - actually it's been found to have 200% more antioxidant power than Vitamin E!
On cellular level melatonin provides antioxidant benefits so this lends support to the theory that melatonin may provide benefits for supporting a healthy aging process.
Natural food sources of melatonin
According to agricultural research studies, cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin. During the months of the year when cherries are out of season, dried cherries and cherry juice (especially tart cherry juice, which contains less sugar) are good substitutes. Grapes also contain melatonin, but you need to eat more of them to get the same benefits.
Alternatively you could opt for a Montmorency Cherry Extract supplement.
More recommendations for healthy aging
Melatonin is unique because it’s a hormone, unlike many other healthy aging products - talking of which here are a few other recommendations to help support a healthier you as you grow older.
- CoQ10 - Coenzyme Q-10 is made in the body, and is essential for basic cell function. Its antioxidant properties help support healthy aging, CoQ10 levels naturally decline with age so it's important to keep levels topped up. A quick and effective way to do this is to take a CoQ10 supplement, or perhaps you may consider the more highly bioavailable form of CoQ10 called Ubiquinol.
- Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called polyphenols. They’re thought to act like antioxidants, protecting the body against damage that can put you at higher risk for things like heart disease.
Sources of resveratrol in food include the skin of grapes, blueberries, raspberries and mulberries. In fact resveratrol levels are higher in red wine than other natural sources - good news for wine lovers!! The wines highest in resveratrol are Malbec and Pinot Noir.
- Turmeric - this is a spice from the turmeric plant, and it’s often used in Asian cuisine due to its warm, bitter taste.The bright yellow color of turmeric is from curcumin, the active ingredient that comes from the root of turmeric.
Turmeric protects the body from oxidative stress by acting as a free radical scavenger. In other words it can promote free-radical reduction, which supports healthy aging.
A couple of important facts you should know is that black pepper (or piperine) vastly improves the bioavailability of turmeric and ginger also supports your body's ability to absorb turmeric.
For ease and convenience turmeric can be consumed as a daily supplement.
A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.