The Grapevine

Melatonin Supplements: Is It OK To Take Them Every Night?

Melatonin supplements are widely used in the U.S. Estimates show there are more than three million Americans taking the drugs to help them improve sleep because of disorders, jet lag or work-related concerns. 

A survey by Consumer Reports showed that 86 percent of people in the U.S. who tried sleep supplements picked melatonin. From 2007 to 2012, the number of adults who took melatonin supplements in the country more than doubled, according to Mercola.

However, regular intake of some drugs or medications could have side effects. Is melatonin one of them? The answer is yes and no. 

Melatonin Supplements Health Effects

Over the past years, melatonin remained with very low cases of unwanted effects. Health experts even consider the supplement as “very safe” to take in low to normal doses. 

"Some of the emerging science is showing that in people with higher levels of inflammation — which could be because they're obese, or because they're in the [intensive care unit] for a transplant — melatonin in the range of 6 mg to 10 mg may decrease markers of inflammation," Helen Burgess, co-director of Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan, told Time.

In one study with 30 obese patients, researchers found melatonin supplements could help reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. It also supported weight loss and antioxidant defense.

The other known positive effects of melatonin supplements include regulation of metabolism, energy balance and immunomodulatory actions. 

Long-Term Effect Of Melatonin Still A Mystery

Despite millions of people using the drugs and a number of research done to explore its health benefits, the medical community has yet to determine the long-term effects of melatonin supplements. Researchers mainly want to identify how it would cause changes in the children. 

Taking melatonin up to 18 months can still be considered short or medium period use. Some experts said the potential negative effects of the supplements may occur in people with epilepsy and children with either attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or chronic insomnia. 

Some research also suggested melatonin supplements could disrupt the production of hormones that support puberty when used long term. 

“Melatonin has an incredible safety record, no doubt about it,” Mark Moyad, a director of preventive and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan, said. “But it's a hormone, and you don't want to mess around with hormones until you know what they're doing.”

Drugs Daily medications placed on a container. Pixabay