The pigment melanin is found in human beings and animals. It is this pigment that imparts color to the skin, hair and eyes in human beings; and to the eyes, feathers and scales in animals. Amongst the human race, those with a darker skin color are believed to be having higher proportions of this pigment in their bodies in comparison to fairer skinned people.
Melanin is known to aid in protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the ultra violet radiations of the sun. However, the protection offered is not completely fool proof; therefore dark skinned individuals should not consider themselves completely safe from the negative effects of these rays. However, such people are certainly more equipped to handle longer durations of exposure to the sun in comparison to those with lighter skin color. The latter group tends to suffer from sunburn within minutes of exposure to direct sunlight.
Melanin produced by special cells known as melanocytes during the metabolism of the amino acid tyrosine, is highly vital for defending the body against several health disorders. Research has revealed a correlation between lower levels of melanin and incidences of skin cancer and cataract. However, in circumstances wherein the body is completely devoid of pigment, the individual is said to suffering from albinism. This medical condition is observed amongst all livings things, be it human beings, animals or plants. There are several variants of this disease, amongst them is one known as ocular albinism that results in visual problems as well. Studies also showcase a relationship between deficiency of melanin and high mortality rate.
Apart from imparting color to various parts of the body, this pigment also regulates the entry of light beams into the eyes; thereby affecting the sharpness of vision. Melanin is of extreme importance to cold blooded animals in terms of regulation of body temperature.On the other hand, melatonin is a natural sleep aiding hormone secreted by the pineal gland located within the brain. It regulates the sleep-wake cycle evoking tiredness and the generating the need to sleep. The human body shows a higher level of this hormone at night time in comparison to day time. However, in conditions of shift work ad jet lag, the melatonin cycle is severely hampered making the body susceptible to temperamental changes, fatigue, lack of concentration and sleepiness during day time. Owing to its characteristics of facilitating sleep, the hormone is being employed towards the treatment of depression and sleep disorders. The hormone is also believed to be associated with the production of female reproductive hormones and ageing. It is a potent antioxidant, which makes it important for strengthening the immunity of the body.
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