Melatonin & Weight Loss

Your body naturally produces the hormone melatonin and uses it to regulate the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin supplements are used for a wide range of problems including insomnia, migraine and fibromyalgia. With an estimated 35 percent of the U.S. adult population obese, as per 2010 information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it could be useful if melatonin helped aid in weight loss.

A woman is standing on a scale. (Image: Anetlanda/iStock/Getty Images)

Types of Fat Cells

There are three types of adipose, or fat, cells in your body. Your body stores white adipose tissue, but burns brown and beige fat cells for energy. According to a small animal study published in the November 2013 issue of the "Journal of Pineal Research" that included both lean and obese rats, a supplemental melatonin dose of 10 milligrams per kilogram of body weight daily for six weeks induced conversion of white fat cells to brown cells and increased thermogenesis, or expenditure of energy.

Supplementing with Melatonin

While there is promising research that melatonin may play a role in preventing weight gain, you should abstain from supplementing at this time, according to Michael J. Breus, Ph.D. in a Psychology Today article published in January 2013. There are still too many unknown factors to determine how to use supplemental melatonin for weight loss. Instead, you might employ strategies to boost your body's natural production of melatonin including regular exercise, avoiding light at night while you sleep and obtaining exposure to sunlight earlier in the day. You can also consume foods, such as walnuts, tomatoes and tart cherries, which contain melatonin.

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