Melatonin is a neuropeptide synthesized mainly by the small brain gland epiphysis, and has a unique effect on the human body and animals. With the help of melatonin, the epiphysis participates in the regulation of cyclic processes.
How melatonin is synthesized?
According to the chemical structure, melatonin is a derivative of serotonin, which, in turn, is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan, which comes from food.
The hormone of sleep is formed in the cells of the epiphysis, and then secreted into the blood, mainly in the dark.
The epiphysis receives information about external illumination along a complex neural pathway: from the retina of the eye through the branch of the optic nerve to the epiphysis.
Bright light instantly blocks its synthesis.
Therefore, the maximum level of melatonin in the epiphysis and in the blood of a person is observed at night, and the minimum – in the morning and afternoon.
A healthy adult produces 30 micrograms of melatonin every day. The peak of daily synthesis is 2 am.
Functions in the body
- Regulation of circadian rhythms.
- An antioxidant effect: it easily penetrates through cell membranes and neutralizes free radicals. According to the latest data, its effect is 2 times higher than that of the well-known antioxidant vitamin E.
- Another effect of melatonin is to stabilize the work of the psyche with anti-anxiety activity and improve cognitive abilities through the stimulation of visual perception.
- The anti-cancer effect has been actively studied lately: its antitumor effect has been revealed in several serious scientific works. The hormone melatonin indirectly affects the synthesis of a compound that promotes the appearance of cancer cells.
- The antiamnetic effect of the hormone, which is important for the protection of neurons in ischemic brain damage, has also been found.
- Melatonin is involved in the work of the immune system: with a lack of it, the susceptibility to infections increases.