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June 2014

Use of Melatonin in the Elderly Reviewed

According to a new review of evidence, when melatonin is taken by older people, the lowest possible dose should be used.

Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain by the pineal gland from the amino acid tryptophan. The production and release of melatonin are stimulated by darkness and decreased by light, suggesting that melatonin is involved in circadian rhythm (the internal body clock) and regulation of diverse body functions. Levels of melaton in the blood are highest prior to bedtime. The most common use of melatonin is to aid in sleep.

In a new study, researchers conducted a comprehensive literature search for studies reporting the effects of melatonin use on melatonin blood, urine and saliva levels in people over 55 years-old. Sixteen studies were ultimately identified for inclusion.

The researchers found that in the included studies, doses of melatonin ranged from 0.1 mg to 50 mg/kg by mouth. The average age of participants ranged from 55.3 to 77.6 years-old. There were significant increases in melatonin blood and urine levels following supplementation, with the biggest jump in levels for the oldest participants compared to the youngest. Additionally, higher doses of melatonin resulted in melatonin levels being maintained higher for longer periods of time.

The authors concluded that using the lowest possible dose of melatonin in older adults is best to avoid maintaining high levels of melatonin in the blood for too long.

For more information about melatonin, please visit Natural Standard’s Foods, Herbs & Supplements Database.


  1. Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine.
  2. Vural EM, van Munster BC, de Rooij SE. Optimal dosages for melatonin supplementation therapy in older adults: a systematic review of current literature.  Drugs Aging. 2014 Jun;31(6):441-51

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