Melatonin, Vitamin D3 and EVOO - Blog # 76
Happy Friday everyone! Welcome back to another Friday blog. Today I wanted to highlight the connection between melatonin and vitamin D3 - their importance to our physiology and health - AND how EVOO elevates and enhances their effects in the body. We’ve all heard of melatonin - how it is involved with our circadian rhythm and sleep - but, what is it really? Why is it so important? How does it interact with vitamin D3? And wait…IT’S IN EVOO??? Let’s delve in.
What is melatonin, where does it come from and what is it’s function? “Melatonin has been identified in primitive photosynthetic bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals including humans.” In humans, it is an extremely powerful antioxidant and hormone produced in small amounts by the Pineal gland which modulates sleep patterns and circadian rhythm. The Pineal gland is a tiny endocrine organ (shaped like a pine cone) located in the brain between the 2 hemispheres. Endogenous (within the body) production is synthesized from tryptophan - an essential amino acid - this means we MUST consume it - our body can’t make it - and derived from serotonin (the happy hormone). It is one of the 2 antioxidants used by our mitochondria - the other being glutathione.
The Pineal gland, however, only produces a tiny fraction (.1-.9mg/day) of the melatonin required. The gut has 400x this - produced from gut-residing enterochromaffin (EC) cells - reside alongside the ENTIRE epithelium lining the lumen of the digestive tract, in the intestinal mucosa. These specialized endocrine cells are responsible for the production of almost all the serotonin in the body. Serotonin has many physiological roles, such as regulating gastric motility, a driver of obesity and metabolic disease - hepatic gluconeogenesis (glucose production), adipose (fat) tissue lipolysis and hindering thermogenic capacity.
Melatonin has the capacity to scavenge ROS (reactive oxygen species) and RNS (reactive nitrogen species) both directly and indirectly - “through a cascading mechanism related to its secondary, tertiary, and even quaternary metabolites” - scavenging up to 10 ROS and RNS - making it one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. “Melatonin has significant abilities to block pro-inflammatory processes acting on cyclooxygenase (COX-2) and enhance programmed cell death (apoptosis) in aberrant cells.” Its profound importance to human health is revealed by the multiple tissues and body fluids where it is found:
Melatonin acts as a hormone that affects multiple systems. In the skin, it responds to sunlight and darkness. Babies do not produce melatonin and have no circadian rhythm until 3 months. Breastfed babies, get melatonin from breast milk - which may allow them to sleep through the night, while formula-fed babies don’t. Children produce high levels until a slow decline in production from the late 20’s into 50’s. Researchers also noted decline may be due to the degree of calcification of the Pineal gland, as its capillaries are mostly permeable to solutes in the blood. They also note the HUGE difference in function of phytomelatonin (plant source) vs synthetic.
“Phytomelatonin was found to have 646% stronger COX-2 inhibition, 267–470% more potent free-radical scavenging ability, and 100% greater efficacy in reducing cellular ROS in a human skin cell line when compared to synthetic melatonin.”Melatonin works hand in hand with vitamin D3 and can bind the vitamin D receptor (VDR), increasing vitamin D’s signaling effects and enhancing cellular activities. In fact, they are 2 sides of the same coin in many ways -
- Deficiency in vitamin D = “sunlight deficiency” - caused by being indoors all day under artificial light, high carbohydrate diet that depletes, etc.
- Deficiency in melatonin = “darkness deficiency” - caused by overexposure to artificial blue light from computers, cell phones, jet lag, shift-work, etc.
Melatonin is involved with gene regulation, mitochondrial homeostasis and anti-inflammatory modulation of cytokine and inflammatory processes and has been associated with the regulation of physiological functions such as improving sleep, delaying aging, alleviating allergic symptoms, and regulating the immune system. It is vital in maintaining the health of our mitochondria - as their function and dysfunction -produces a lot of ROS.
Further, melatonin is important for fruit quality and preservation - promote fruit ripening and delay fruit senescence (aging/rotting). It also protects meats from decay - “As melatonin is a potent antioxidant, its presence in the meat could contribute to shelf life duration as well as preserve their quality and taste. In addition, the consumption of these foods by humans or animals could have health benefits considering the important functions of melatonin as a potent free radical scavenger and antioxidant.”
“It has been proposed that both vitamin D and melatonin orchestrate many of their functions, especially related to redox status, at the level of the mitochondria. Concurrent with the age-related depletions in levels of vitamin D and melatonin, there is mitochondrial dysfunction, which has implications in a variety of clinical conditions that present differently through the seasons with changing light exposure.”
Melatonin is able to block pro-inflammatory processes as well as enhance apoptosis (programmed cell death) in aberrant cells. This is especially beneficial with cancer, for example.
In the journal Nutrients, published September 2022, researchers stated: “Melatonin’s dual actions can inhibit pro-oxidative enzymes (e.g., xanthine oxidase) while also acting to potentiate the critical antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), glutathione peroxidase, and catalase, aiding in the body’s first line of immune defense and metabolic detoxification.” This enhances liver function - so there’s a correlation between low melatonin production and disease and dysfunction. Melatonin protects against mitochondria-mediated injury with obesity and HTN (hypertension).
In the body, we have circulating melatonin - produced from the Pineal gland - and subcellular melatonin (stays local). “Subcellular melatonin does not necessarily fluctuate with our circadian clock or release into the circulation system, but instead has been proposed to be consumed locally in response to the free radical density within each cell, in particular in response to Near Infrared (NIR) exposure.” What’s so beyond cool is that NIR can penetrate the skull and bathe the brain in melatonin via cerebrospinal fluid. NIR is even reflected off the grass and trees. In other words, we are able to produce subcellular melatonin in response to NIR photons which account for the majority of natural sunlight - so we don’t need to get fresh air and sunshine just for our vitamin D. We need it desperately for our melatonin. Our BRAIN needs it - this explains “sundowner’s” phenomenon.
Okay - so, increasing our body’s ability to produce melatonin seems crucial. So does eating plenty of foods high in phytomelatonin. Guess what? Melatonin is one of the major phytochemicals in EVOO! It is also quite evident that we need sufficient vitamin D levels, as D and melatonin work together. Most people in the US are low - in both. We work indoors and cover/or protect our skin - from fear of skin cancer - when we are outside. We have pretty much done away with incandescent bulbs and use LED or bright artificial lights that are screwing up our rhythm and melatonin levels.
Supplementation with vitamin D3 is crucial for most of us. EVOO works synergistically with vitamin D3 to enhance multiple systems in the body - enhancing immune system function and bone-density, for example. With the cold and flu season approaching - likely along with some new Covid-19 variant - increasing vitamin D3 levels right now is one of the most strategic moves we can make to boost immune system function and protect against whatever comes our way. Ask your MD to add it to your bloodwork - or go get it tested yourself. You want your vitamin D3 levels to be >50mg/L. This is the level at which one can achieve a near-zero risk of death from Covid-19, according to a Meta-Analysis in 2021.
So, how do we boost our melatonin levels and enhance our body’s ability to fight infection, inflammation and disease? Obviously - exercise, stress reduction, meditation, friendships and community are factors, but honing in on specifics - Let’s talk strategy -
Help your Pineal gland:
- Set your circadian rhythm - expose your eyes (retinas) to bright sunlight first thing in the am.
- Wear blue-light blocking glasses while on your computer during the day or at night.
- Avoid bright artificial light exposure - particularly at night
- Expose yourself to infrared light in the evening - light a fire, non-toxic candle or use incandescent low lighting.
- Sleep in a dark, cool room. - cover any light source. it doesn’t take much to shut down your Pineal gland. Electrical tape works great over electronic equipment lighting.
- Supplement vitamin K2 along with D3 to prevent calcification of the Pineal gland. Eat plenty of dark leafy greens that provide K1 as well - your body can convert to K2.
Get plenty of Sunshine:
- Exposure to sunlight synthesizes vitamin D from cholesterol to its active form D3.
- Sunlight is mostly NIR - but has the whole spectrum of light - therefore, vital to health. NIR can also be obtained from candlelight, incandescent lighting (old-fashioned bulbs), campfire or home from the fireplace. Melatonin is produced in response to NIR photons - both directly and indirectly.
- Other cells in the skin produce cholesterol sulfate in response to sunlight - providing the much-needed sulfate for detoxification and transport of serotonin to the brain. Then there’s the cholesterol…THIS should underline the message that cholesterol is necessary and required by the body - it is so vital, that our body MAKES it in our skin from exposure to sunlight!!! Um…HELLO!!
Heal your microbiome:
- Consume plenty of fiber-rich foods for your microbiome! This is what they like to eat! They in turn produce postbiotics that enhance our health and communicate with mitochondria. Yes. They talk to their sisters - literally telling the mitochondria how much ATP (energy) to make, etc.
- Consume foods high in polyphenols - microbes in your gut love polyphenols as well as fiber! HP EVOO, colorful veggies and fruits
- Include fermented foods - these provide a rich source of microbial communities to replenish our gut - sauerkraut, kimchi, natto, miso, Greek yogurt…These also provide salt. Interestingly, haloarchae (salt-loving) in the human gut are the only archae able to make glutathione!
- Cyanobacteria - (spirulina) are also capable of synthesizing glutathione.
- Include anti-inflammatory and adaptogenic foods - turmeric, medicinal mushrooms, etc.
Enhance your Enterochromaffin (EC) cells:
- Consume polyphenol-rich foods - high polyphenol EVOO is healing to the intestinal mucosa - combatting inflammation and providing vitamins and nutrients.
- Consume tryptophan-rich sources of protein - in order to provide substrate
- Consume sulfur-rich foods - cruciferous vegetables: Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, arugula, collards, watercress. These are very high in sulforaphane - a powerful phytonutrient, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory high in raw cruciferous vegetables.These not only boost melatonin levels, but glutathione levels as well - and trigger autophagy (clean/recycle system). Cruciferous vegetables are one of the BEST foods to eat to protect your mitochondria because they provide BOTH glutathione and melatonin - the 2 antioxidants needed by our mitochondria. They are a fantastic source of sulfur - desperately needed by the brain. Serotonin, for example, must get sulfated in the intestine before it can be transported to the brain.
- EC cells - Diet affects EC cells, which have nutrient-sensing capacity - they can become overwhelmed - impairing sugar-sensing capability, as seen in obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Eat to feed your GUT:
- Consume more healthy fats: HP-EVOO - just for you readers - use discount code “melatonin” and get 25% off a 750mL bottle of the highest polyphenol EVOO in store - coconut oil, MCT oil, Grass-Fed Ghee and butter, avocado oil
- Consume 7-9 C veggies/day - at least 70% raw. Soups, salads, crudités and dips
- Omit sugars and grains - they spike glucose and insulin - drive T2D, obesity and metabolic syndrome - are typically very high in glyphosate - and harm your microbiome
- Omit fried foods - these oils are highly inflammatory and cause widespread damage to our blood vessels as well as our intestinal lining - promoting pathogenic microbes and starving our good guys. These seed oils have an omega 6:3 ratio of around 70:1 - we are wanting 1:1.
- Add plenty of detoxifying herbs and spices - these have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, parsley, turmeric, black pepper and many more
- Include alliums - onions and garlic contain organosulfur -a compound that has powerful action against pathogenic microbes, detoxifying and anti-inflammatory properties.
Eat Foods high in Tryptophan:
- Clean meats, poultry and fish - wild-caught fatty fish, pastured eggs, Grass-fed beef, products from ruminating animals - goat cheese, sheep’s cheese - high omega 3’s. FYI - chicken is higher in omega 6, so limit to about once per week.
- Dark leafy greens
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Eat Organic and Non-GMO:
- Glyphosate inhibits the formation of our aromatic amino acids - such as phenylalanine, tyrosine and tryptophan. Check out Blog # 70!
- It significantly impairs our CYP enzymes (P450 family of CYP enzymes) CYP enzymes synthesize hormones from cholesterol - screwing up our ENTIRE endocrine system! CYP1A2, specifically is required to convert serotonin to melatonin. This is likely what is causing much of the problem in individuals with high serum serotonin that is found in obesity and metabolic syndrome - it can’t get converted to melatonin - or sulfated for transport to the brain.
- Eating GMO foods contain lower levels of nutrients due to glyphosate’s activity as a metal chelator - it steals the minerals from the soil and blocks the production of key amino acids in the food - our food is depleted. GMO vegetables tested 50-65% lower in serine, glycine and methionine, for example. “More recent greenhouse experiments demonstrated that glyphosate application to the root system decreased the levels of calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese in the seeds of the plants.” So, each application and planting depletes more and more from not only the plant it’s sprayed on, but the seed that makes the NEXT plant - that it no doubt will be sprayed on as well. Soon, there will be no nutrition in our food supply if we don’t stop Monsanto-Bayer’s use of glyphosate! They are killing our planet - plants, bees, other pollinators, bacteria and viruses - throwing our entire ecosystem out of balance - making $$$billions$$$ on us - while we get sick. - And… - they have the government behind them - as we discovered via the Freedom of Information Act in the Roundup lawsuits against Monsanto/Bayer - now in the $Billions. 😡
Eat foods high in Melatonin:
- pistachios - (raw) highest plant source
- Goji berries
- tart cherries
- green beans
- roasted coffee beans
- eggs, lamb, beef, pork, chicken and fish
- HP-EVOO - high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil
Eat foods high in Sulfur:
- Cruciferous: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage…
- Alliums: onions, garlic
- Pasture-raised eggs
- Dark leafy greens: spinach, kale, Chard…
- Vitamin D3 - hormone that has functions all over the body. EVOO + vitamin D work synergistically to prevent bone loss.
- Vitamin K2 - works with D3 to take calcium off your arteries and put in bone.
- Zinc, Magnesium -Trace minerals are crucial as they are cofactors (helpers) for enzymes ~1/3 of our DNA codes for enzymes, which require a cofactor. They are the physiological key to the ignition. You may have a nice car, but you can’t start the engine without a key.
- B vitamins! - Nutritional yeast is the best source. Many of us are very low in Thiamine - particularly - from 20-90%, as observed in multiple studies. It is required in some of the first steps of ATP production and crucial to mitochondrial function. Deficiency causes a myriad of symptoms. Further, when you fix your microbiome, you raise B vitamin levels - many beneficial microbes make B vitamins.
- Take a good multivitamin - Grass-fed beef liver is one of the best. If you are like me and don’t care to eat liver - you can take in capsule form. I buy from New Zealand - they don’t allow glyphosate in their country.
- Eat pasture-raised organic eggs - they are a complete protein source, providing tryptophan and other amino acids for building blocks to make enzymes and hormones. Eggs are designed to build and support a complete new life - eat 2/day to promote wellness.
- Don’t get enough sunshine? Treat yourself to a NIR (near infra-red) sauna or other NIR device and use 20 min before bedtime. This can stimulate nitric oxide production that lowers blood pressure and impacts your health in multiple ways. Check out blog # 89!
- Drink your body weight (lbs) in ounces of water. Your gut needs LOTs of water to help wash out the digestive tract and maintain health. Don’t forget the electrolytes - include Himalayan sea salt, Celtic, or Hawaiian Red clay sea salt (no plastics)- high in trace minerals and low in sodium.
So, until next time my friends…Drink, Drizzle, Digest HP-EVOO 2-4T raw daily, - use more for cooking and drizzling onto your food - eat the rainbow of organic or wild-sourced veggies (7-9 C) and low-glycemic fruits (to get the rainbow of gut microbes!) Eat wild-caught, pasture-raised, grass-fed, get plenty of sunshine + supplement magnesium, zinc, vitamin D3 + K2, get your trace minerals and electrolytes with good sea salt *Himalayan was formed before plastics, eat foods high in lutein, drink your body weight in oz of water, get a good pre/probiotic (if you have wiped out your gut microbes with antibiotics), consume indigestible fiber for your gut microbes, fermented foods for the post-biotics, adaptogens (such as mushrooms) and methylation donors (kale, beets, spinach, cruciferous, lion’s mane…), marjoram, rosemary, oregano, parsley and other herbs to detox, enhance overall health and reverse aging and disease, exercise your body and mind, add a few minutes of mindful meditation to your day to combat stress, take a hot epsom salt bath and follow with a cold shower/ice plunge, remove EMF (electromagnetic frequency) devices and blue light, use IR (infrared) from incandescent lighting, candles (check for toxic chemicals) or fire or in the evening to enhance sleep and...turn off the light!! #HP-EVOO