The Melatonin Dosage Controversy
Melatonin supplements have indisputably been proven to have a number of positive side effects, including producing a more relaxing and comfortable sleep in those suffering from sleep disorders. However, the data from various studies does not corroborate a single specific dosage for melatonin to have maximum effectiveness. The disagreement between the studies has left doctors and healthcare specialists no other choice than to recommend a trial-and-error dosing method for each individual taking the supplement.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in humans by the pituitary gland. Its chemical name is N-acetyl-5-methoxytryptamine. The primary function of melatonin is thought to be the regulation of the circadian rhythm of the sleep-wake cycle.
Melatonin is present in all mammals and a number of plant species, and it has been studied extensively as a human dietary supplement. Various studies have purported that melatonin therapy may reduce sleep disorders, improve memory, increase fertility in women, treat migraines, treat mood disorders and reduce the risk of cancer.
The controversy surrounding the proper dosage for melatonin is due to the fact that each study conducted on the hormone has shown varying results for an effective dose. One study conducted in Sao Paulo, Brazil shows that the effective dose is 10 mg, and patients taking 10 mg per day experienced marked sleep benefits with a minimum of negative melatonin side effects.
More recent studies, such as the comparative study on the optimal dosage for melatonin conducted at the University of Zurich showed that lower doses may be just as effective as higher doses. Study participants taking only 0.5 mg per day showed nearly as many benefits as those taking 5 mg per day.
Melatonin Dosage Methodology
Because of the discrepancies in the studies, the officially recommended method for determining melatonin dosage required by an individual is to begin with a low dose of 0.5 mg once per day. If no benefits are experienced, the dose can be increased by 0.5 mg per day until benefits are readily apparent. Some people do not experience improved sleep and other benefits until they reach 5 mg per day or more, but most doctors say that an individual should not take a higher dose than is required.