Animal studies have shown us multiple times that melatonin supplementation increases the longevity of lab mice by delaying the aging of their brain cells and reducing the amount of stored fat. Up until recently, no one had ever conducted a study involving human subjects that would prove that these benefits apply to human beings as well. Then came the Danes.
A new endocrinology study from the Aarhus University hospital in Denmark discovered that long-term supplementation with a low dose of melatonin helps reduce fat reserves and increase lean body mass. The researchers divided 81 women who had early symptoms of osteoporosis, aged 56-73, into three groups: one took a placebo, the second took 1 mg melatonin and the third one took 3 mg melatonin before going to bed.
All of them took their designated form of supplement every evening for one year. Since all of the women suffered from an early phase of osteoporosis, they were taking a daily dose of 800 mg calcium and 20 mcg vitamin D3 in order to ease the symptoms. By adding low doses of melatonin on that list, the researchers were hoping that the supplement will additionally strengthen their bones.
At the end of the study, it was found that both groups who took melatonin supplements had lost 5% of their body fat and their lean body mass had increased by more than 3%. At the same time, the women in the placebo group actually gained body fat. In addition, it was discovered that insulin sensitivity had increased in the women who took melatonin, which could be the result of the increased secretion of adiponectin by the fat cells. However, the results didn’t make it clear whether the increases in lean mass were caused by osteogenesis or muscle growth.
“We demonstrated that small doses of melatonin (1 and 3mg/d) have beneficial effects on body composition in terms of reduced fat mass and borderline significantly increased lean mass in postmenopausal women”, informed the researchers, adding that “on the basis of our study, melatonin may be an interesting therapeutic agent for future treatment strategies against osteoporosis and agerelated changes in body composition.”
Also, it’s important to note that scientists have yet to find out the exact process with which melatonin inhibits the growth and spreading of fat tissue, but it’s assumed that melatonin suppresses the activity of the fat receptor called PPARgamma and helps regulate the levels of insulin and glucose in the blood.
Either way, these new findings are real and very important both in the battle against osteoporosis and the battle against obesity. We hope that future studies on the subject will clarify them even further and provide a more detailed evidence of melatonin’s effect on different body systems.