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List of Foods High In Melatonin: Cure Insomnia, Jet Lag, Hormone Based Cancers and Slow the Aging Process

Updated on July 31, 2012

Most people find they don't instantly fall asleep when their head hits the pillow. Stress, worry or indigestion may make it difficult but even when everything is going great, we don't fall asleep as soon as we lay down in the dark. There is a scientific reason why we lie awake before drifting away. It has to do with the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. The hormone is naturally produced by the body. It is also produced when foods containing tryptophan are consumed.

Melatonin is produced by the light regulating, pineal gland. As light increases the amount melatonin produced decreases. As light decreases, melatonin increases causing us to fall asleep. It is the ultimate sleeping pill because it allows the body to enter into a rejuvenating, deep sleep. Light interferes with melatonin production and therefore quality of sleep so it is important to always sleep in a dark room.

Before the invention of the light bulb, light slowly dimmed with the going down of the sun. The production of melatonin increased and people would gradually get so tired they had to go to bed at the proper time. In today’s busy North American lifestyle, people fight the urge to go to bed at the proper time by turning on more lights when they start to feel drowsy. The body knows when it needs to regenerate. Habitually staying up late disrupts melatonin cycles and the bodies ability to effectively regenerate tissues and organs and restore energy reserves. Continually disrupting the melatonin cycle may result in melatonin depravation as early as the age of thirty five.

Other factors that influence melatonin production are diet and age. Around the age of forty melatonin production begins to decrease. Individuals who are used to a diet of processed, refined and fast foods may experience many of the symptoms and health conditions associated with melatonin deficiency. Switching to a diet rich in tryptophan will soon begin to alleviate related symptoms. Foods rich in tryptophan include tuna, oatmeal, turkey, onions, rice, cherries, bananas, corn, cottage cheese, lentils, soy beans and soy flour. A tryptophan rich diet has been found to greatly increase tryptophan blood levels.

Hormone-based Cancer (Breast and Prostate Cancer)

Studies show that breast and prostate cancer patients have thirty to forty percent less melatonin in their bodies than cancer-free individuals at similar ages. Melatonin has the ability to stimulate cancer cells to become normal again. It also has been shown to block estrogen receptors from breast cancer cells.

Ease and Alleviate the Symptoms of Jet Lag

Jet lag occurs whenever we fly to a far destination in a different time zone. Symptoms include irritability, fatigue, inability to sleep and lack of concentration. Some studies have shown that melatonin is able to ease and even eliminate the symptoms of jet lag. Several tests were conducted to determine when and how much melatonin would be needed to alleviating symptoms. It was found to be most effective when taken in the evening at a dose of 5ml for five days after arriving at the new destination.

Slow the Aging Process

Melatonin has shown an ability to slow the aging process by acting as an antioxidant capable of removing age accelerating free radicals from the blood. One study conducted showed that the hormone may also prevent the onset of diseases associated with age, inflammation and free radicals.

Supplementing with Melatonin

Supplementing with melatonin is important if you are forty years or older and you do not regularly consume a high tryptophan diet. Supplemental melatonin is bio-identical with naturally occurring melatonin and can be found online or at your local health store. It is available as drops, pills, oral spray or liquid.

Melatonin is a hormone essential for good health. If you want to be live a long and healthy life, it is important to maintain healthy melatonin levels. Make sure you develop healthy sleeping habits, eat a tryptophan rich diet, particularly at age forty and above and/or supplement as needed.


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    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Thank you for that useful information. I am desperate for a good night of quality sleep. I refuse to take drugs to sleep because I feel they are unsafe but think a diet high in tryptophan is a great idea!

    • Jennifer Madison profile image

      Jennifer Madison 

      6 years ago from Lohmar

      Lots of interesting information about melatonin, I love that topic, great article!

    • kkgifts profile image


      8 years ago from Florence, SC

      You have some very interesting Hubs. It will take me some time to read your hubs but I will. Thanks for following me also.

    • profile image

      Wife Who Saves 

      8 years ago

      Your hub is packed with information. I made a list of the foods you listed.

    • stevemark122000 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Southern California

      singlemomat52, not being able to stay asleep usually has another cause. My latest hub deals with this issue.

      Inspiredhippy, cramping usually occurs if you are taking to high of a dose and during the day. Try lowering the dose and take before bedtime.

    • InspiredHippy profile image

      Becky Jo Gibson 

      8 years ago from Old Town, California

      Melatonin gives me cramps in my muscles. Is this an unusual reaction to it?

      Peace and God Bless...Becky Jo aka Inspired Hippy

    • singlmomat52 profile image


      8 years ago

      I really do not have trouble falling asleep, it's staying asleep that seems to haunt me. I usually wake up several times during the night and sometimes have trouble getting back to sleep. But I will try the supplemental and hope that it helps. Great Hub!! Thanks!!

    • ocbill profile image


      8 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      yes, very useful indeed. I am glad to know my diet is very rich in melatonin but I find I still sleep faster with a clock radio.

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for the info. I may have to consider taking it.

    • fortunerep profile image


      8 years ago from North Carolina

      been taking it for years, love this, it is really great!!!!!


    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      This was really good information!!!


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