Wednesday, January 18, 2012

6mg Melatonin 30min Before HIT Will Increase Fatty Acid Oxidation, Boost Your Antioxidant Capacity, Reduce MDA Levels and Modulate Your Immune Response

Image 1: Other than you may have expected, this is exactly not what happened when the soccer players took 6mg of melatonin before their workouts.
The blogpost on melatonin's anti-Alzheimer's + anti-obesity effects from last week caused quite a stir, both in the comment area, here at the SuppVersity, as well as on facebook. Even friends in the gym came up with questions. Therefore, I suppose that you won't mind, if I re-address the topic today. This time, however, with data from a human study, of which I bet that it will catch your interest... after all, the study, which has been published ahead of print two days before Christmas could hold the key to winning the FIFA World Cup 2014 ;-)

Melatonin makes you sleepy? I don't think so!

I guess, even after last week's news, most of you will still think of melatonin as the "sleep hormone". At least those of you who follow my recommendation to make sure that they get their daily dose of SuppVersity news should yet already be familiar with the notion that melatonin may also be a very effective ergogenic aid / adaptogen to be taken not at night, but right before an event! Contrary to the Ococha study, which, due to its awkward "loading protocol" and the ultra-endurance setting, had little relevance for the average trainee, the recently published study by M.D. Maldanado and his (or her) colleagues (Maldando. 2011) from the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Seville Medical School and the Andalusian Centre of Sports Medicine in Spain is approaching an area of physical activity that is much more dear to my heart: Football! Or as you, my American friends would say, "soccer" ;-)
Note: The scientists make a very useful comment with regards to the timing of exogenous melatonin, I guess you will be interested in: "Melatonin itself has a very short half-life in the blood (range of 20–40 min, depending on condition), so that elevated levels cannot persist after many hours. According with concentration-time curve of our laboratory and other researchers, 30-45 min is [sic!] the necessary time so that oral melatonin is absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and can be detected in blood before its metabolism and elimination. On the other hand, considering that melatonin is not toxic and has no undesirable effects, the 6 mg administered assured us their absorption by the mucous and is within the ranges recom- mended for use in humans (3–20 mg)." I hope that will spare me at least a few of the question some of you are probably already harboring ;-)
To study the effects of pre-workout melatonin supplementation on markers of oxidative damage, the Spanish scientists recruited sixteen 18 to 20 year old professional soccer players, and randomized them to receive either placebo or 6mg of melatonin 30 minutes prior to an intense (HR >135bpm; speed 25km/h) 60-min training session on stationary bikes.
Figure 1: Plasma total antioxidant activity (TAS) and lipid oxidation (MDA) before, during and right after 60min of high intensity (heart rate >135bpm) exercise on stationary bike (data adapted from Maldando. 2011)
As you can see in figure 1 the 6mg of melatonin the subjects received immediately before the arduous steady state high intensity "cardio" exercise, did not just ameliorate the -22% (60min mark) decrease in total antioxidant capacity (TAS) in the soccer players, it did in fact raise the TAS levels to +15% over baseline, while the subjects were pedaling on their bikes. Consequently, the increase in lipid oxidation (MDA) levels was profoundly reduced, yet not completely blunted (let alone reversed).
Figure 2: Plasma triglyceride before, during and after 60min HIT training (data adapted from Maldando. 2011)
For those of you who, besides being athletic, also like to look athletic, it may also be of interest that Maldando et al. ascribe the statistically signifant decrease in plasma triglyceride levels in the melatonin group to what they call an increased "catchment and lipids consumption by cells" - and for the native speakers out there - this is the Spanish way of saying that melatonin increases fatty acid oxidation during high intensity steady state exercise and could thusly be highly beneficial for anyone who wants to shed some additional pounds (in addition to what you diet will do for you) on the treadmill, bike or similar "cardio equipment" - and before you ask, I guess this will work for HIIT, as well ;-)

Melatonin increases immune response to 60-min HIT exercise

Its antioxidant and fat-burning activity aside, the 6mg of melatonin eight of the sixteen soccer players consumed before they hopped onto their stationary bikes exerted a statistically significant modulatory effect on plasma IgA levels (ca. +40% after 60min), about which Maldano et al. state that it
[...] indicates the start of a humoral immune response, for which it takes between 5 and 7 days [...so that melatonin] could act to promote the adaptation between plasma and mucosal IgA during the exercise.
Overall, I am becoming more and more convinced that my statement from last week that "melatonin is probably one of the most underrated supplements you can still buy without a script" is actually pretty accurate and that melatonin, as Maldono et al. put it, "could be a plausible therapeutic option for professional athletes that should make major exercises throughout their working lives" ;-)