A new study shows that the hormone melatonin significantly decreased the production of free radicals during and after intense exercise. Melatonin is a hormone released from our brains. It is most ‘famous’ as a sleep aid, however it has a lot of other important effects in the body.
Strenuous exercise: causes the release of free radicals and other pro-inflammatory chemicals in the body. These can damage the muscles and organs and contribute to the aging process overall.
Study subjects ran a 50-kilometer race with 2800 meters of climbing and were then evaluated for production of pro-inflammatory chemicals. (These included tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-1ra, as well as 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative stress, and isoprostane, a marker of lipid peroxidation.)
The subjects who took melatonin before their run showed significantly decreased levels of the pro-inflammatory chemicals and had decreased production of oxidative compounds, signifying an overall decrease in free radical production.
This is yet another example of how anti-oxidant compounds, when taken close to exercise, can reduce the body’s natural production of pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative chemicals. This is a good thing, as those chemicals are not good for your health or performance!
Ochoa JJ, Díaz-Castro J, Kajarabille N, García C, Guisado IM, De Teresa C, Guisado R. Melatonin supplementation ameliorates oxidative stress and inflammatory signaling induced by strenuous exercise in adult human males. J Pineal Res. 2011 Apr 21.