Is Melatonin Vegan? Here’s Everything You Need To Know

According to governmental health websites like the NIH and NHS, melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland (located in your brain), and it regulates your sleep cycle.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with a sleep disorder, whether it’s insomnia, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or even something like jet lag. Melatonin supplements are advertised as a solution to these problems, so no wonder people seek them, and vegans, in particular, wish to know whether these are vegan-friendly.

Melatonin can be derived from both animals and microorganisms, but most melatonin is manufactured synthetically in labs, which means that most melatonin is suitable for vegans and vegetarians. 

In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about melatonin. 

What Is Melatonin?

melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone in your body that regulates sleep. Melatonin production and release in the brain are time-dependent, increasing in the dark and decreasing in the light. Melatonin production decreases as we age.

Melatonin appears to play other important roles in the body besides sleep, according to research. However, these effects are not fully understood.

Melatonin is also available as a supplement, usually in the form of an oral tablet or capsule. The majority of melatonin supplements are manufactured in a laboratory.

Most people use melatonin to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia and jet lag.

Is Melatonin Vegan?

Melatonin supplements can be made from animals or microorganisms, but most are produced synthetically in a lab, without the use of animal-extracted melatonin, which means that most melatonin supplements are suitable for both vegans and vegetarians. 

Melatonin production is primarily influenced by the Orcadian clock, which is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus in mammals, in other words, natural melatonin can only be extracted from the brains of diurnal animals, namely cows, and sheep, among others.  

If you want to take a vegan melatonin supplement, you should try to specifically get a supplement from a vegan brand, as you’ll be sure that the brand has used a source that is synthetically manufactured.

We have an article listing vegan melatonin supplements, so feel free to check it out.

Should You Take Melatonin Every Night?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, you should be able to safely take melatonin every night for 2 months, but melatonin is not something that you should be taking in the long-term, not without medical advice. 

If you travel long distances and want to combat jet lag, you should try taking melatonin two hours before bedtime, particularly after adjusting your sleep-wake schedule to be in sync with your new time zone by simply staying awake when you reach your destination, and wait until it’s your usual bedtime (but in the new time zone). 

Melatonin is produced when it’s dark, so if you make an effort to get light exposure, this could help in keeping you awake until you’re able to finally sync your sleep-wake schedule. 

If you’re not taking melatonin for jet lag but for a different sleep disorder, you should get advice from your physician or other relevant health professional. 

Is Melatonin Safe?

Melatonin supplements are safe for short-term use, but although they are generally considered safe, they should still be used under the supervision of your doctor, just like any other sleeping pill.

And although it’s safe for short-term use, it may still include some side effects such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, and drowsiness. 

Other less common side effects may also include short-lasting feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation, and abnormally low blood pressure (hypotension). 

You should be particularly careful if you’re taking other forms of medication, hence why it’s crucial to get professional medical advice before taking any melatonin. 

Other Frequently Asked Questions

Where Are Melatonin Receptors Located?

Melatonin receptors can be found in many different parts of the body, including the brain, the retina of the eye, the cardiovascular system, the liver and gallbladder, the colon, the skin, the kidneys, and many more.

Do Melatonin Gummies Expire?

Even though most pills have expiration dates, what usually happens when they go beyond the expiration date is that they lose their potency/effectiveness. 

This does not mean that you have to compensate for the lack of potency by taking more and to be honest, I don’t think you should be taking something that has “expired”. 

Melatonin is not a supplement that goes bad when it expires (in the same way that antibiotics are), but at the same time, I don’t think it’s a good idea to consume expired supplements. 

Is Melatonin Legal In Europe?

Melatonin is not illegal in Europe, but you can’t buy it over-the-counter as you can in the United States, so in order to get melatonin, you may need to get a prescription from a doctor. 

With that being said, you can still order melatonin online, but the product may have to go through a medical inspection, which may cost you upward of 50 euros, and in some cases, you can’t order more than 1mg of melatonin.

Is Melatonin Safe For Dogs?

Melatonin appears to have the same calming effect on dogs as it does on humans. A study of healthy dogs preparing for surgery found that giving them melatonin before the procedure left them calmer, requiring less initial anesthesia.

But does that mean that melatonin is safe for dogs? According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, melatonin is a safe supplement to give to your dog (ASPCA). Melatonin has few negative side effects; however, make sure that it is free of added fillers or coatings that could be harmful, such as the sweetener xylitol.

This should be also true for cats or other animals, so be very careful if you’ve got animal friends living with you!

Conclusion

Melatonin can be quite useful in certain circumstances, and while I don’t experience sleep disorders (apart from jet lag when traveling), I know people who have real trouble sleeping.

If you’re a vegan that wants to take melatonin because you wish to solve or alleviate a sleep disorder (like insomnia), you’ll be glad to know that most melatonin supplements are vegan-friendly as most are made synthetically in a lab.

However, before you decide to take melatonin, please get professional advice from your doctor, especially if you’re taking other types of supplements or medication. Do not skip this step. 

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for over five years! I've set up this blog because I'm passionate about veganism and living a more spiritually fulfilling life where I'm more in tune with nature. Hopefully, I can use Vegan Foundry as a channel to help you out on your own journey!