Melatonin and Alzheimer’s Disease

Research has shown melatonin reduces the transition from mild cognitive impairment to Alzheimer’s disease. Because melatonin blocks the build up of beta-amyloid plaque it can help with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have also shown that Alzheimer’s patients tend to have lower melatonin levels than non-Alzheimer’s patients. The studies by Furio, et al., and Peterson, et al., revealed patients with mild cognitive impairment who were given melatonin had significantly less progression to Alzheimer’s disease. In these studies, the dosage range was 3-9 mg, taken one hour before bedtime. Melatonin levels start to decline during our teenage years and by the age of 40 they may have reached levels to have caused sleep disturbances.

Melatonin is also a powerful brain antioxidant, and has the ability to reduce free radicals in this role and repress the build up of beta-amyloid plaque that is a problem with Alzheimer’s disease. We have known for years that the brains of the elderly show more atrophy and studies have shown an intermediate rate of atrophy is found in people with mild cognitive impairment. People over 60 years of age normally have brain shrinkage of approximately of 0.5 percent per year and people with mild cognitive impairment show that they have twice the rate at 1 percents per year. Studies have revealed that Alzheimer’s patients can lose as much as 2.5 percent of brain volume per year. Studies have also shown that B-vitamin supplementation as well as other nutrients can be useful for Alzheimer’s disease.

Melatonin for Sleep

With the recent findings that prescription sleep medications are linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, premature death and other health considerations, melatonin may not be a bad choice to consider as a safer alternative for sleep disturbances associated with age. The pineal gland in the brain normally secretes melatonin in the late-evening hours which helps to induce sleep. Melatonin has been shown to affect the circadian rhythms and through an induced hypothermic effect it may be able to normalize various sleep disorders. Before supplementing with melatonin it should be noted that too much can generate vivid dreams that may awaken the patient or leave them feeling drowsy in the morning. When taking melatonin patients should be monitored by their physician.

This article on melatonin is informational and not to be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition


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