For those who thought they had found eternal youth in melatonin, a study from the November 1999 American Journal of Medicine may come as a surprise.
Harvard University researchers have found that melatonin levels are comparable in people of various ages. For several days, they compared the melatonin levels of ninety-eight young men, aged eighteen to thirty, to those of thirty-four older men and women between sixty-five and eighty-one. Researchers found no differences among the participants.
Melatonin has been marketed for preventing the effects of aging. Previous trials claiming that melatonin decreased with age didn’t consider other factors such as heart drugs and other medications that can suppress the hormone.
Researchers conclude that although melatonin may not influence the effects of aging, it may be effective in other ways. Because melatonin appears during sleep, the supplement may be beneficial in dealing with problems involving the body’s internal clock, such as insomnia.
Zeitzer, J. M., et al. “Do plasma melatonin concentrations decline with age?” American Journal of Medicine November 1999, 107(5):432-436.