In a newly published study, Spanish researchers report that melatonin, a hormone produced by the pineal gland and found naturally in some foods, can help delay the oxidative damage and inflammatory processes that underlie age-related diseases. The investigators, from the Spanish Aging Research Network, found that the first signs of aging in the mice start at the age of five months (equivalent to age 30 in humans), primarily due to an increase in free radicals, which cause an inflammatory reaction. They then administered small amounts of melatonin to the animals and found that it neutralized oxidative stress and the inflammatory process. The researchers suggested that taking daily melatonin beginning between age 30 to 40 could prevent or delay such age-related illnesses as Parkinson’s disease and the complications of diabetes in humans. Small amounts of melatonin occur in onions, cherries, bananas, mint, lemon, verbena, sage, thyme, red wine and in corn, oat and rice cereals. The study was published in several medical journals including Free Radical Research, Experimental Gerontology, the Journal of Pineal Research and Frontiers in Bioscience.