Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Casts Doubt That Melatonin Goes Down As Age Goes Up: Older Buyers Take Note

Date:
November 8, 1999
Source:
National Institute On Aging
Summary:
Many advertisements target older people and encourage them to take commercial melatonin preparations to restore levels lost with aging. Older Americans who do, however, have responded to a false premise in the salesman's cry, according to results of a new study that contradicts the popular notion that melatonin levels in older people fall with age.

"Wake up refreshed and full of energy," says one advertisement for melatonin. Other ads promote use of the compound for a host of health problems from obesity to insomnia. Many advertisements target older people and encourage them to take commercial melatonin preparations to restore levels lost with aging. Older Americans who do, however, have responded to a false premise in the salesman's cry, according to results of a new study that contradicts the popular notion that melatonin levels in older people fall with age.

In the study, National Institutes of Health (NIH) grantee Charles A. Czeisler, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston studied 34 healthy older people, both men and women ranging in age from 65 to 81, and found that their nighttime melatonin levels did not differ significantly from those of 98 younger men whose age ranged from 18 to 30. The study, which spanned five years, appears in the November issue of the American Journal of Medicine.*

Study participants were medication free and did not have insomnia or other sleep complaints. They had to forego alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine and were also asked to keep a sleep journal. As part of their participation in the study, each person spent three days and three nights isolated under carefully controlled conditions in a sleep laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital. In order to minimize the effect of the experiment on their usual patterns of melatonin secretion, participants maintained their normal sleep schedules. At regular times, scientists took blood samples in order to assess melatonin production.

“In our analysis, we did not find any statistically significant difference in nighttime melatonin concentrations between the young and older subjects, although our study does not address whether melatonin levels change after the eighth decade,” said Dr. Czeisler. “This means that in most healthy people, concentrations of melatonin in plasma probably do not decline with aging.”

Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland, which is located deep within the brain. The hormone may be a natural sleep inducer. It is produced at high levels during a person's normal sleeping hours and is low during the day. A number of factors, including light and many common medications, can affect melatonin secretion.

“The idea that a pineal aging clock winds down as you get older is simply not true,” says Jamie M. Zeitzer, Ph.D., an author of the paper. “Being older does not cause a person to have low melatonin levels. While we know that some older individuals have low melatonin levels, it isn't because of their age per se.”

"To say that aging affects the regulation of melatonin secretion is not borne out by the scientific literature, especially this newest study, the most comprehensive and carefully designed to date,” says Andrew A. Monjan, Ph.D., M.P.H., Chief of the Neurobiology of Aging Branch of the NIA's Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program. “It is important that people understand however that there is some preliminary evidence that melatonin may be useful for jet lag and some types of insomnia."

“Another thing not to overlook,” explains Dr. Monjan, “is that commercially available melatonin remains un-standardized, unregulated, is largely untested, is expensive, and we still do not know how safe it is for long term use, especially for older people with a variety of health problems taking a number of drugs.”

This study was supported by the NIA, NIMH, and NCRR, three components of the NIH. The NIA supports basic, clinical, epidemiological, and social research on aging and on the special needs of older people. The NIMH supports research on mental disorders, the brain, and behavior. NCRR funding provides highly specialized research resources to biomedical researchers nationwide, including the sleep laboratory at Brigham and Women's Hospital. The NIH is the leading Federal biomedical and behavioral research agency.

# # #

* Zeitzer, Jamie M., Daniels, Jessica E., Duffy, Jeanne F., Klerman, Elizabeth B., Shanahan, Theresa L., Dijk, Derk-Jan, Czeisler, Charles A. Do Plasma Melatonin Concentrations Decline with Age? American Journal of Medicine, Volume 107, No. 5, pp. 422-436.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Institute On Aging. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Institute On Aging. "Study Casts Doubt That Melatonin Goes Down As Age Goes Up: Older Buyers Take Note." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 November 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991108090055.htm>.
National Institute On Aging. (1999, November 8). Study Casts Doubt That Melatonin Goes Down As Age Goes Up: Older Buyers Take Note. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991108090055.htm
National Institute On Aging. "Study Casts Doubt That Melatonin Goes Down As Age Goes Up: Older Buyers Take Note." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/11/991108090055.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins