Most people, doctors included, think of taking melatonin as simply being something to help with sleep. But by now, my readers know much better. I’ve been busy reporting on the many fantastic properties of melatonin that go way beyond its effects on sleep. The literature is quite clear. Melatonin is probably the single most important supplement anyone can take to prevent disease across the board and to slow down the aging process. But there’s one more benefit I haven’t told you about. And that’s its ability to preserve your bone strength as you get older.
What happens to your bones as you get older? Do they become stronger? Do they increase in bone density? Do we tend to maintain our youthful height along with a straight, erect stature? I think most people know that the answer to all of these questions is, no. The natural processes of aging cause our bones to become weaker and less dense, resulting in a shorter height and a bent over stature. Of course, we can significantly slow this process down with strength training, vitamin D supplementation, and bio-identical hormone restoration. But there’s more you can do to strengthen the bones.
Previous studies have shown that melatonin is a positive regulator and maintainer of our bone mass. The problem has been that despite this information, the potential effects on bone mass of melatonin supplements has never been studied in an aging population. So, recently researchers set out to see what effects melatonin supplements had on the bone mass and bone strength of a group of old rats. No, I’m not talking about our federal regulators. In this case, it was a group of elderly male Wistar rats.
The researchers divided the animals into two groups. The researchers gave the first group a daily melatonin supplement. The second group did not get the supplement. When the animals died, the researchers examined their bones with CT scans, microscopic exams, and bone strength testing. They discovered that the animals treated with melatonin had higher bone volume. Their bones were thicker and they had more of the collagen scaffold that the bones are built on called trabeculae. And that’s not all.
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In addition, the trabeculae were also thicker, and the bones tested stronger and were much less likely to break on impact. The authors concluded, “These compelling results are the first evidence indicating that dietary melatonin supplementation is able to exert beneficial effects against age-related bone loss in old rats, improving the microstructure and biomechanical properties of aged bones.” No matter whether you are a person or a rat, this is good news for those of us taking melatonin supplements.
Previous animal studies have shown quite clearly that when animals take very high doses of melatonin, which in humans equals more than 1,000 mg per day, they have absolutely no negative effects. Melatonin is surely one of the safest supplements that you can take.
I say this specifically because there are still “experts” out there who continue to caution against the kind of high doses of melatonin that are routinely used in these studies because they are supposedly unsafe. They persist in these warnings even though there is absolutely no data to show any reason for caution.
I, like most of the world’s melatonin researchers, take 120 mg of melatonin every night before I go to bed. Sure, I sleep like a stone, but that’s not the reason I take it. I think the data is conclusive that high dose melatonin will make me live longer and live stronger. You can get 60 mg pure melatonin capsules called Melatonin Max at www.perfectvitaminproducts.com. It’s the form I take.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD
Tresguerres IF, Tamimi F, et al. Melatonin dietary supplement as an anti-aging therapy for age-related bone loss. Rejuvenation Res. 2014 Aug;17(4):341-6.