Should You Take Melatonin With Food?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not you need to take melatonin with food.

Question

Do you need to take melatonin with food for the best effects?

Asked by Kevin On Jun 11, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Jun 11, 2022
Last updated Jun 11, 2022

Key points

  • Food delays the rate and extent of absorption of oral melatonin.
  • Melatonin should be taken on an empty stomach, or 30-60 minutes after food, about 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

Melatonin supplements should generally be taken on an empty stomach, or at least 30 to 60 minutes after food, approximately 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

Studies have shown that food can both delay absorption and lessen maximum concentrations of melatonin in the blood.

While there haven't been many studies on the effect of food on oral melatonin supplements, there is prescription melatonin available in Europe known as Circadin (melatonin 2 mg extended-release) which has extensive pharmacokinetic data to go off of.

How Food Affects Melatonin

According to the prescribing information of Circadin, maximum concentrations of melatonin are reached in 45 minutes when taken on an empty stomach.

When taken with food, maximum concentrations are reached in about 3 hours. In addition to delayed peak concentrations, food also lowers peak blood concentrations of melatonin by about 10%.

Due to the effects of food, it is recommended to take melatonin either after food (at least 30 to 60 minutes) or without food.

However, some sources suggest that food may have a beneficial effect in those using melatonin to help stay asleep as it delays absorption until later into the night.

Melatonin Information

Melatonin is an endogenous hormone, produced in the brain by the pineal gland.

It is a popular over-the-counter supplement for the treatment of insomnia and other sleep-related issues such as those suffering from jet lag. Melatonin is also available by prescription in some counties, such as Circadin in Europe.

Doses of melatonin vary but generally range from 1 mg to 10 mg at night, about 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.

References

  • Circadin, Europa
  • The Absolute Bioavailability of Oral Melatonin, ACCP

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 13 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical, program development, and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Dr. Brian Staiger also has herbalist training and educational certificates in the field of medical ethnobotany. Feel free to send him an email at Hello@HelloPharmacist.com! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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