Located in the brain, the pineal gland is responsible for secreting melatonin, which is a hormone that helps coordinate your circadian rhythm, or internal clock. As you get older, your pineal gland shrinks, and melatonin production decreases. Food and supplements may not directly affect the gland itself but can have an impact on melatonin levels. If you're concerned about your internal clock and pineal gland, consult your doctor to discuss diet and supplements before making changes.
To produce melatonin, your body needs tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that you must get from the food you eat. To keep your pineal gland healthy and aid in the production of this hormone, you need to make sure you get an adequate supply of tryptophan-rich foods. Pumpkin seeds, soy beans, low-fat mozzarella cheese, lean meat, poultry, seafood, oats and legumes are your best sources of tryptophan.
Foods Rich in Folate, Magnesium and Zinc
According to a 2012 article published in Food and Nutrition Research, low levels of folate, magnesium and zinc may impair the production of melatonin. Filling your diet with foods rich in these nutrients may help make sure your pineal gland has what it needs to produce the important hormone. Spinach, beans, asparagus and fortified cereals and pastas are good sources of folate. You can meet your magnesium needs by including nuts, beans, yogurt and potatoes in your diet. For zinc, oysters, crabs, hamburgers, fortified breakfast cereals and chickpeas can help you meet your daily needs for pineal health and melatonin production.
Food Sources of Melatonin
Tomatoes, barley, cherries, rice and walnuts are naturally rich sources of melatonin. According to the article in Food and Nutrition Research, melatonin levels increase when you eat foods rich in melatonin. These foods are also rich in nutrients that support melatonin production, however, and it's not known if it's the melatonin in the food or the nutrients that affects levels. Either way, eating these healthy foods may be beneficial to your pineal gland.
St. John's Wort
St. John's Wort is an herb often taken for depression. The evidence to support its use for this is mixed, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine. While it's uncertain how the herb may affect your mental health, according to MedlinePlus, St. John's Wort raises melatonin levels, which might assist in the health of your pineal gland. Consult your doctor before adding St. John's Wort to your diet.
- Patient: Pineal Gland and Circadian Rhythm
- Food and Nutrition Research: Dietary Factors and Fluctuating Levels of Melatonin
- MedlinePlus: Melatonin
- HealthAliciousNess.com: Top 10 Foods Highest in Tryptophan
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Magnesium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine: St. John's Wort