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Latest study shows melatonin labels don’t always match contents

Millions of people use melatonin as a sleep aid and for jet lag. A study by the University of Guelph, published this week in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, tested 30 melatonin supplements produced under 16 brand names and sold in grocery and drug stores.

Researchers found 7l per cent of the products did not meet label claims. Higher than listed amounts of melatonin ranged between 12 and 25 per cent on average , but some had nearly five times the hormone they were said to contain.

Others were found to have melatonin levels lower than was listed. Principal investigator Praveen Saxena, a professor at Guelph U’s department of plant agriculture, said amounts of melatonin in the supplements tested sometimes also varied from lot to lot within the same product line.

A more serious concern was that about a quarter of the supplements also contained serotinin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and nerve impulse transmission, which was not included in the product’s ingredients lists and could cause adverse effects.

Melatonin is sold over the counter. “These products are often self prescribed, Saxena said, “so it’s important that labels are accurate and the products free from contaminants.”

Melatonin is produced in the brain and occurs naturally in small quantities in some meats, grains fruits and vegetables. People often take it to solve sleep problems.

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About Doris Strub Epstein

Doris Strub Epstein
Doris is a multimedia journalist with many years of experience. She has worked in radio, television and print journalism and writes on a variety of topics, especially the crucial issues in Canadian and Jewish life.

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