How is Melatonin Made?
The human body is a complicated and complex creation. It is the most studied object in science and to this day is still a mystery in many ways. The human body is self sufficient, and while it does need outside sources such as air, food, and water, it is constantly creating chemicals and hormones that it needs to survive. One of the hormones the body creates is called Melatonin. Melatonin is crucial because it is the chemical hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Through its production process, it tells our bodies when it needs to be alert and when its time to rest. Without Melatonin sleep would be impossible. And if the body couldn't sleep, it wouldn't survive.
When Do You Produce Melatonin?
Melatonin is created by an amino acid called Tryptophan and is produced by our pineal gland in our brain. It is actually a fairly complex process as it involves several different links in order to form a “chain”. For instance, your pineal glands work in conjunction with another set of nerves in your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN. It's the SCN that signals to the pineal gland to tell your brain when it needs to create Melatonin versus when it needs to reduce production. However, there are a couple more links in the chain. Your eyes, for instance, are what trigger the SCN. How this works is your eyes have special light-sensitive receptors that relay to the SCN telling it whether it's light or dark. These eye receptors relaying to the SCN is what sets our internal biological clock. The last link in the chain is the external forces of light and darkness.
Once you have all the links hooked together you can start to create the process of producing Melatonin. For example, when the sun comes up your eye receptors signal to the SCN that there is light. The actual amount of light needed to set off your receptors is blue light of about 460 to 480 nanometers. Once the SCN has been signaled, it then will relay that information to the pineal gland, causing it to suppress Melatonin production. The reverse effect happens at night when the light starts to fade. Your eye receptors once again tell the SCN that darkness is coming, which causes the SCN to tell the pineal gland. Once the pineal gland has been made aware that darkness is approaching it starts producing Melatonin to help get your body ready for rest.
What Is the Difference Between Synthetic and Natural Melatonin?
There are other ways for an individual to get Melatonin besides their own body's natural production. There are man-made versions that are factory produced and manufactured. This gives the ability for those people with sleep disorders or those lacking the ability to produce enough Melatonin a way of being able to obtain it in their diet. There are two forms of man-made Melatonin, synthetic and natural. The synthetic, interestingly enough, is the safer of the two. This is because the natural contains cow pineal glands, which can carry bacteria and viruses that could be harmful to an individual. The synthetic on the other hand is made in a few different ways. One, being by reducing 5-methoxyindole-3-acentonitrile with Sodium and Ethanol, which is then taken through a specific process and is put in either tablet or a gel pill form. Either way, it is manufactured safely away from bacteria and other impurities.
Regardless of which way an individual obtains Melatonin, it is a unique and important part of the human body. Without it, sleep would be almost impossible causing our bodies to eventually shut down from over exhaustion. Though the production process may be complex, it is just one more of the human bodies unique ways of keeping us alive and healthy.