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Why That Melatonin Sleep Supplement May Not Be Working For You

Melatonin supplements qualityMany people who experience trouble sleeping seek out natural remedies. This is mainly because they want to avoid drugs, which can cause dependency as well as side effects. Melatonin is often the sleep aid of choice, and is frequently recommended by healthcare professionals.

We say “recommended” and not “prescribed” because a prescription is not required to purchase melatonin. This is because it is considered a supplement and not a drug. All the same, you could obtain a prescription for it which may be covered by insurance.

However, if you use melatonin supplements you may want to know about a recent investigative report on these. Back to this in a moment.

Just What Is Melatonin?

Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body. It is released at night, bringing drowsiness and helping set our internal clocks.[1] Melatonin used for medical purposes is usually made synthetically in a laboratory. It comes in various forms including liquid, capsule, and tablets.[2]

Additionally, melatonin is available for use via various routes including placing in cheek or under tongue.

Since melatonin is used to adjust the body’s internal clock, it is often used to adjust sleep-wake cycles for people with changing work shifts, blind people and to recover from jet lag.

Melatonin has also been linked to weight loss as it may stimulate production of beige fat, which is said to convert unhealthy white fat into healthy brown fat. For more about this see our Types Of Belly Fat post.

So, What Is The Issue With Melatonin Supplements?

For a supplement to be effective, it must contain the active ingredients in the right amounts and in good quality. However some supplements may contain less than optimal amounts of the active ingredient, in this case melatonin.

Not only that but, some supplements have been found to contain potentially harmful ingredients not declared on the label.

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that melatonin content in a good number of supplements did not meet the 10 percent margin of dietary supplement label claims. The researchers tested 30 common supplements in various forms including capsules, tablets, liquids and strips.

71 percent of products tested did not meet label claims within the 10 percent margin. Some contained higher than listed levels. Many fell short, by up to 83 percent lower levels of melatonin.

More concerning, some supplements were found to contain serotonin, a much more restricted substance not authorized for sale as a supplement. This was not listed on the label.


[1] Melatonin: Nature’s Sleeping Pill by Ray Sahelian

[2] WebMD: Melatonin Overview Information

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