DHAKA : Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain, useful for inducing sleep and extending one`s sleep duration.
It is produced from the amino acid tryptophan, found in certain foods like meat, fruits, grains and vegetables. Internal medicine specialist Dr Anil G Ballani says, the production of melatonin is influenced by environmental light."It is released in circulation with the body`s circadian rhythm. Because it induces sleep, its concentration is less during the day and more during the night," he says. A study suggests that the primary purpose of melatonin supplements is to treat sleep disorders, and is considered safer than sleeping pills.
The side effects Be cautioned. Melatonin is a hormone and comes with risks. Frequent melatonin use - especially in the typical dosage of 3-6 mg - can cause your body to produce even less of the hormone, creating an even greater need for it in your body.
Ideal dosage There`s no such thing as an ideal dosage when it comes to taking melatonin supplements. That`s because the problems and their severity differ from person to person. Consultant physician Dr Sunil Dalvi says, "The dosage varies from 0.2 to 20 mg, but it changes from person to person and in duration too. In order to treat insomnia, the causes underlying it need to be determined before starting medication. Therefore, it is best to get diagnosed by a doctor first."
Precautions Since melatonin supplements induce sleep, one shouldn`t take them before/during driving, swimming, while handling machinery, or consuming alcohol. Dr Dalvi warns, "It interferes with blood levels and/actions of anticoagulants (agents that reduce and prevent clotting of blood), immunosuppressants (agents that can suppress or prevent the immune response), anti-diabetic drugs, birth control pills and hence should be used with caution."
BDST: 1300 HRS, MAY 12, 2012
Edited by: Tania Afrin, Newsroom Editor
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