Diabetes: The hormone that could influence the condition and its complications

Diabetes type 2: Dr Zoe Williams discusses high blood sugar risks

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Melatonin may help treat diabetes. The “sleep hormone” normally circulates in the body, regulating sleep-wake cycles. It is produced by the pineal gland, released in dark hours, and suppressed during daytime. Melatonin is also available in its synthetic form, which, as research suggests, could help manage diabetes.

Diabetes is often associated with a state called “oxidative stress”.

This is a state of imbalance between unstable atoms that can damage cells (free radicals) and antioxidants.

Too many free radicals can harm the body, causing illness and ageing.

According to a study, melatonin could be used to improve diabetes and its related complications caused by oxidative stress.

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Researchers observed that “elevated” oxidative stress is a common feature of Diabetes Mellitus.

It is associated with diabetes complications.

These include diabetic neuropathy, retinopathy, nephropathy and cardiovascular disease.

Authors argued that melatonin, which works as an antioxidant and a free radical scavenger, could ameliorate oxidative stress in diabetic patients.

Further research has looked at melatonin as beneficial in diabetes.

“Melatonin may influence diabetes and associated metabolic disturbances,” argued researchers at the University of Extremadura.

The hormone, they said, can regulate insulin secretion, but also provide protection against reactive oxygen species.

“Pancreatic β-cells are very susceptible to oxidative stress because they possess only low-antioxidative capacity.”

Other studies, however, have highlighted how melatonin can reduce insulin sensitivity.

This could cause diabetes or make it progress.

According to Doctor Julie Støy: “Melatonin benefits the body at the right times of the day.”

“Our results indicate that people should not have high concentrations of melatonin in the body during daytime because it can affect glucose metabolism,” she explained.

The study discovered that taking a big dose of melatonin during the day could reduce insulin sensitivity by 10 percent.

“Reduced insulin sensitivity is absolutely key to developing type 2 diabetes, so this reduction is very interesting,” said Doctor Julie Støy.

However, the author warned that more research on the effects of melatonin on insulin sensitivity is needed.

“Melatonin can improve sleep quality and thus benefit health, and this may outweigh any possible direct and negative effect of melatonin on insulin sensitivity,” she concluded.

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