Melatonin is well known for its role as the “sleep hormone” in making it easier to fall asleep and to help treat jet lag.
But what if we told you that melatonin benefits has shown cardioprotective effects on the heart?
In this article, we’ll be discussing how melatonin supplementation may have protective effects on various cardiovascular conditions and your overall heart health.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. It is produced and secreted by the pineal gland, a small endocrine organ located in the brain’s center. For most people, the pineal gland will be inactive during the daytime.
In the nighttime, while your body is in a dark environment, it actively begins to produce and release melatonin for sleep. From there, melatonin is gradually released into the bloodstream.
Countless studies have shown that melatonin benefits sleep in numerous ways:
- Puts you into a state of drowsiness to get you ready for sleep
- Helps you fall asleep quicker
- Extends your total sleep duration
- Enriches your overall sleep quality
- Enhances your alertness in the morning
- Helps sleep problems caused by insomnia or jet lag
During a normal night of sleep, blood levels of melatonin will stay higher between the hours of 9 PM – 9 AM for a period of about 12 hours. As the sun rises and daylight comes, the pineal gland will become inactive, and the blood levels of melatonin will decrease to a point that they are barely detectable.
How Does Melatonin Benefit Heart Health?
There was a systematic review published in 2016 in the Current Opinion in Lipidology that reviewed recent studies regarding melatonin’s potential protective effects on cardiovascular diseases.
The researchers of this review concluded that the studies showed that melatonin benefits significantly various cardiovascular conditions, such as:
- Ischemia-reperfusion injury
- Myocardial chronic intermittent hypoxia injury
- Valvular heart diseases
- Vascular heart diseases
- Pulmonary hypertension
- Lipid metabolism
Let’s take a closer look:
Firstly, there’s ischemia-reperfusion injury. This is a condition in which blood flow is restored to the damaged cardiac muscle, or myocardium, after a period of reduced blood flow or lack of oxygen supply.
However, the period of reduced blood flow or lack of oxygen makes it so that, instead of restoring normal cardiac function, the restored blood flow actually causes oxidative stress, resulting in inflammation and oxidative damage to the tissues. Reperfusion injury involves a complex interaction between intracellular calcium and reactive oxygen species.
So where does melatonin fit into this?
The studies included in the review found that melatonin benefits provide profound protective effects against ischemia-reperfusion injury in the heart, kidneys, and liver. Researchers believe that these protective effects come from melatonin’s activation or modulation of the SIRT1 pathway.
This signaling pathway helps protect against chronic inflammation and decreases oxidative stress. In a study that tested the effects of melatonin administration before myocardial ischemia-reperfusion surgery on human cells, there was a significant improvement in cardiac function, and reduction in oxidative damage and myocardial apoptosis.
So, not only does melatonin benefits cardiac function and fight oxidative stress and damage, but it also helps reduce the programmed death of cells in the cardiac muscle.
Myocardial Chronic Intermittent Hypoxia Injury
Next, there’s myocardial chronic intermittent hypoxia injury. Intermittent hypoxia is marked by alternating periods of normoxia, or having normal levels of oxygen, and hypoxia, or having low levels of oxygen. Obstructive sleep apnea is actually closely related to chronic intermittent hypoxia.
Melatonin administration has been shown to protect against fibrosis, myocardial inflammation, and ischemia-reperfusion injury induced by chronic intermittent hypoxia injury. This is due to melatonin significantly reducing the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and fibrosis biomarkers.
Pro-inflammatory cytokines are signaling molecules secreted from various immune cells that promote inflammation.
Fibrosis is a condition in which various tissues are overgrown, hardened, and/or scarred. Additionally, melatonin reduces the expression of various enzymes and pathways in the body.
Valvular Heart Diseases
Valvular heart disease refers to damage or a defect in one of the four heart valves. Of the four, the mitral and aortic valves are the most frequently affected by this type of heart disease. Melatonin benefits have been shown to help treat valvular heart disease by acting on melatonin receptors and activating the AMPK signaling pathway, which is crucial to helping regulate cellular energy homeostasis.
It also reduces the expression of various protein coding genes. Overall, the researchers believe that it may be effective to treat valvular heart disease by targeting melatonin-related signaling in tissue-engineered heart valves. Scientists and physicians have proposed that tissue-engineered heart valves may be the ultimate solution to valvular heart disease.
Vascular Heart Diseases
Next come vascular heart diseases. These are any abnormal conditions of the blood vessels, including the arteries and veins. One of the studies included in the review, which used a rabbit model of atherosclerosis, found that melatonin reduces both the number and area of plaques caused by atherosclerosis.
It did so by modulating cell signaling along the MAPK pathway, which is crucial in regulating various cellular functions including:
- Proliferation – the increase in the number of cells through cell growth and division
- Differentiation – changing from one cell type to another, usually a more specialized type
- Angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels
- Migration – directed movement of a cell or group of cells to a specific location
There have been several studies that have shown that melatonin benefits provide antihypertensive effects. In one study, rats were continuously exposed to light for 24 hours a day for six weeks. This continuous light exposure resulted in the rats having hypertension, increased oxidative stress in their aorta and left ventricle, enlarged and thickened left ventricular walls, and fibrosis of the left ventricle.
Melatonin benefits reduce all of these pathological changes and reduce hypertension in the rats.
Also, a meta-analysis showed that melatonin benefits may improve blood pressure through several mechanisms. These mechanisms include protecting blood vessels from oxidation and improving the metabolism of nitric oxide, a cellular antioxidant. This ultimately leads to improved endothelial function. In this meta-analysis, controlled-release melatonin treatment significantly decreased nighttime systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
We’ve now come to pulmonary hypertension, which is a condition in which high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries results in enlarged and thickened right ventricular walls, and right ventricular failure. Several studies have shown that melatonin administration has reduced oxidative stress, dysfunction and enlargement of the right ventricular walls, and pulmonary arterial pressure. It has been shown to increase vasodilation of small pulmonary arteries, as well as the bioavailability of nitric oxide.
Several studies have shown that melatonin supplementation has improved dyslipidemia, which is abnormally high levels of lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides, in the blood.
Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who were treated with melatonin twice daily at a dose of 5 mg over the course of 14 months showed significantly decreased levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
In one study involving aluminum-induced toxicity in a rat model, melatonin supplementation was shown to protect against toxic dyslipidemia by reducing the aluminum-induced increase in:
- Apolipoprotein B100 – a type of protein that helps move cholesterol around the body
- Oxidized LDL cholesterol
- LDL cholesterol
- Total cholesterol
It is worth noting that dyslipidemia is a major risk factor of cardiovascular disease.
What does that mean?
Because of the way that melatonin benefits lipid metabolism, this all-important macromolecule may reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Liposomal Melatonin Supplement
If you are looking for ways to increase your blood levels of melatonin for improved heart health, then you should consider a melatonin supplement.
More specifically, you may want to do some research on Liposomal Melatonin Technology. Liposomal Melatonin Technology uses micro sized fluid filled liposomes to protect and deliver nutrients directly into the cells and tissues of the body.
These liposomes are very similar to human cells, which makes it easier for them to be transported within the body. As a result, nutrient absorption is greatly increased, and there is less intestinal discomfort than with using standard oral supplements.
- Micro-sized encapsulation that protects against the harsh acidity of the gastrointestinal tract
- Increased delivery to cells, tissues, and organs
- Higher absorption rates and bioavailability than other standard oral supplements
- Noninvasive compared to intravenous supplementation
- Lower doses provide the same effects as high-dose standard oral supplements
- Helps put nutrients to use by the body faster
- Prevents gastrointestinal distress usually experienced with standard oral supplements
Clearly, liposomal melatonin deserves serious consideration for its potential cardioprotective properties.
Why You Should Consider a Melatonin Supplement for Your Heart Health?
Melatonin benefits are extensive, including cardioprotective properties as an extension of its antioxidant effects. Most importantly, melatonin benefits many sleep-related issues, such as helping you fall asleep faster and for longer.
You should take the necessary steps to keep your levels of melatonin within a normal range during the nighttime for overall better sleep quality, as well as improved antioxidant and cardioprotective protection.