Trying to choose a quality melatonin supplement can be daunting. Melatonin supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and experts can’t even agree on what constitutes a reasonable dose. A clinical review from the Senior Care Pharmacist suggests that doses between 1 and 6 mg can be effective, but some companies sell supplements with higher melatonin levels, upwards of 10 mg. Meanwhile, there’s a larger question of which type of supplement is best: pills, gummies, liquids, or vaporizers? With so many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
In this article, we’ll break down the differences between some of the best melatonin brands – Natrol, Nature Made, and MELO Labs products – and we’ll also look at the pros and cons of the different types of supplements made by each brand.
At a glance:
Natrol vs Nature Made vs MELO Labs Melatonin: An Overview
Natrol and Nature Made brands have both been making dietary supplements for several decades. Both companies sell a wide variety of products, including melatonin. Both companies primarily sell their supplements as pills and gummies, but Natrol also sells melatonin tinctures and fast dissolve tablets.
MELO Labs is a much newer company, and was created because we were unhappy with the melatonin products that were already on the market. Specifically, we set out to create melatonin products with faster and higher absorption rates. MELO Sip has melatonin as well as additional benefits for relaxation and sleep.
Our melatonin supplements come in the form of powdered drinks and vaporizers. Both types of supplements are known to have faster absorption rates than pills, as we’ll explain in more detail later on. Lastly, while other products have the potential to be abused (potentially causing daytime sleepiness), MELO Air products have been carefully designed to limit the potential for abuse.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at how these three brands compare across each type of supplement. We’ll discuss the different types of supplements in order of absorption speed: vaporizers, liquids, and pills/gummies.
Natrol vs Nature Made vs MELO Labs Melatonin: Vaporizers
This comparison is easy, because Natrol and Nature Made do not make melatonin vaporizers, whereas MELO Air does. So, MELO Air wins the vaporizer category.
Why does this matter? According to a randomized controlled trial from the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, substances inhaled from vaporizers can be absorbed in as little as 20 seconds. (The only way to get a substance into your bloodstream more quickly would be intravenously.)
By contrast, melatonin pills are recommended to be taken up to an hour before your bedtime, which doesn’t help when you’re not sure exactly when you’ll be able to go to bed. If you want to be able to take your melatonin supplement right before you want to fall asleep, then a vaporizer would be the best option for you.
What’s more, MELO Air vaporizers also contain the amino acid L-Theanine, which has been shown to help people relax and lower their levels of stress and anxiety. For example:
- A research review published in the Journal of Nutrition & Intermediary Metabolism found a link between L-theanine and reduced stress and anxiety in four randomized trials.
- A study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found L-theanine to be associated with reduction of stress.
There’s some evidence that melatonin may potentially trigger nightmares in high enough doses (according to a case report from the Asian Journal of Psychiatry), but the negative effect can be mitigated by taking it alongside a stress-reducing product like L-Theanine. Meanwhile, MELO Air vaporizers do not contain nicotine, THC, vitamin E acetate, nor any substance known to cause harm when inhaled.
MELO Air also comes in a wide variety of flavors, including cotton candy, gummy bear, peach cream, rainbow road, midnight mint, lavender dream, bubble gum, and banana. There’s something for everyone, and you’ll get a burst of sweet flavor without any actual sugar.
With so many enticing flavors to choose from, you may have legitimate concerns about the potential of these vaporizers to be abused. However, they’ve been carefully designed to make this very unlikely. One serving, or 10 inhales, contains 1.3 mg of melatonin, but there are only 3 servings per vaporizer.
This means even if you go overboard and consume all the melatonin from the vaporizer in one sitting, you’ll only be getting 3.9 mg of melatonin, which as we’ve already seen is well below what most experts would consider a safe dose. (With such fast absorption rates, you won’t need a higher dose.)
That said, the ability to vaporize supplements and drugs is still relatively new, and research is still ongoing. If you have a respiratory condition or just prefer to play it safe, you may want to avoid vaporizers for now. Thankfully, you still have plenty of other options.Shop MELO Air melatonin vapes.
Natrol vs Nature Made vs MELO Labs Melatonin: Liquids
Liquids won’t be absorbed quite as fast as vaporized substances, but they are still much faster than pills. An article from Medicare Europe claims supplements in liquid form take only 1-4 minutes to be absorbed, and your body is able to use up to 98% of the supplement when taken this way. This is true whether the substance is a tincture or a powdered drink, as long as the final product being consumed is an evenly-distributed liquid.
With this in mind, Natrol may have a slight advantage over MELO Sip, since it’s already a liquid that doesn’t need to be mixed up and stirred. MELO Sip may not be absorbed quite as well if it isn’t properly mixed. As long as MELO Sip has been sufficiently mixed in water, it should be absorbed just as quickly as a tincture, but it does take a little more work on the part of the consumer.
On the other hand, MELO Sip has some advantages over Natrol. It has a whole host of other ingredients meant to promote restful sleep and improve sleep quality, making it a more complete sleep medicine. In addition to 4 mg of melatonin, each serving also contains L-Theanine, GABA, valerian root extract, and chamomile extract.
A clinical trial from Biofactors suggests GABA has relaxation as well as immunity-enhancing properties, and a systematic review from the American Journal of Medicine suggests valerian root can work as a natural sleep aid. Chamomile also has a well-established relaxation effect, according to a study from Molecular Medicine Reports. All of these added supplements can help if you have trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, or other sleep difficulties or sleep problems.
In addition, MELO Sip contains many vitamins and minerals meant to support your health while you sleep, including potassium, zinc, and B vitamins. It's a much more complete nutrient package than Natrol’s melatonin tincture, which really only contains melatonin, and it is also gluten free and safe for those with food allergies. MELO Sip also has more options for flavors, all of which taste delicious without the use of any added sugars or sugar alcohols.
The tincture has another major drawback: It can be very difficult to get the right amount of liquid with the dropper. The melatonin tincture produced by Natrol is supposed to contain 1 mg of melatonin per serving, but it’s anyone’s guess how much is actually in the dropper at any given time. By contrast, each serving of MELO Sip comes in an individual packet, so there’s no possibility of accidentally taking too much or too little.
The last relevant factor to consider is cost. The Natrol tinctures are less expensive, but they also contain fewer servings of melatonin as well as less melatonin per serving. So, by most metrics, MELO Sip comes out on top. That said, it’s up to you to decide which factors you care most about.
Natrol vs Nature Made vs MELO Labs Melatonin: Pills and Gummies
We’re including melatonin pills and gummies in one category because their rate of absorption is very similar, according to University Health News.
MELO Air does not produce pills or gummies, but both Natrol and Nature Made make melatonin pills and gummies. However, before we get into comparing them, let’s consider the absorption rate of these types of supplements.
Despite the fact that most drugs and supplements come in pill form, this is actually one of the least effective ways to get such substances into your bloodstream. An article from Medicare Europe explains in detail why this is the case: Once the pill ends up in your stomach, it can take up to 30 minutes for it to be broken down before absorption can even begin. They go on to claim that you’ll only absorb about 39-53% of supplements from pills or capsules.
So, in other words, it’ll take up to half an hour just to absorb (at most) half of the contents when taking melatonin in pill form. (The article goes on to implore the reader to “guess where the remainder ends up.”)
More specifically, a clinical trial from the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found oral melatonin tablets to have poor bioavailability, meaning most of the melatonin from the pills wasn’t absorbed by the participants. This makes it very difficult to know what sort of dose you are actually getting when you take melatonin pills, no matter how precise the label on the bottle is.
This is a major drawback of both pills and gummies, but gummies have the additional problem of added sugar. Both the Nature Made gummies as well as the Natrol gummies have two different types of sugar added to them. This is, of course, the appeal of gummy supplements: They’re basically candy.
That said, if you don’t mind added sugar, you might consider trying gummies. The Nature Made gummies also contain magnesium and L-Theanine in addition to melatonin, while the Natrol gummies just contain melatonin. However, the Nature Made gummies have 3 grams of added sugar, while the Natrol gummies just have 1 gram of sugar. So, it’s a trade-off between extra nutrients and sleep aids vs. extra sugar.
When it comes to pills, you have no shortage of options. Both Natrol and Nature Made have long product lines of different types of melatonin pills. Both include products with other added ingredients to boost relaxation, such as these softgels from Nature Made with 200 mg of L-Theanine in addition to 3 mg of melatonin. The added L-Theanine makes these softgels a great option for those extra stressful days – but keep in mind you’re not going to absorb everything in the pill.
In addition to pills and gummies, Natrol also makes fast dissolve melatonin tablets. A study from Pharmaceutical Development and Technology suggests fast dissolve tablets may be more effective than pills. These could be a good option for you if you are (understandably) skeptical of conventional pills at this point.
However, note that this product also contains numerous types of added sugar (dextrose, maltodextrin, etc.) as well as the artificial sweetener sucralose (known commercially as Splenda). According to WebMD, sucralose can alter your gut microbiome, and it may have other health risks as well. If you know you are sensitive to artificial sweeteners or just have concerns about them, you may want to avoid these.
So, while many different types of pills and gummies are available from both of these brands, you need to consider absorption as well as other added ingredients. Note that you’ll have to take these supplements up to an hour before you plan to go to bed, which means you’ll need to know exactly when you plan on going to bed – and then stick to that schedule. You’ll also want to avoid doing anything too stimulating during that hour, because you can easily override the melatonin with things like too much blue light from your devices (per WebMD).
Choosing the Right Melatonin Supplement for You
To summarize, if your primary concern is speed of absorption, MELO Air vaporizers will be your best bet.
If you’re concerned about the lack of research on vaporizing melatonin, MELO Sip will be a better option for you (and it’ll still be absorbed relatively quickly). If you’d like your melatonin to come with other supplements to support your sleep and overall health, MELO Sip is a great option for you.
If you’re dealing with a lot of stress and need to focus on relaxation as well as sleep, you might consider trying the L-Theanine softgels from Nature Made. If you’re wary of vaporizers and also don’t want to drink any liquids before bed (to avoid having to get up to use the bathroom), the fast dissolve melatonin tablets from Natrol may be worth trying. And if you like candy and aren’t concerned about added sugar, try some gummies from either brand.
Be sure to read the label carefully before buying anything. You’ll want to know exactly how much melatonin is in each serving of the product you’re considering. If you’re taking melatonin for the first time, start with as small a dose as possible, and slowly work your way up to larger doses if you need to.
Note that lower doses (1-3mg) tend to be effective for most people. Additionally, while melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone, the body's natural melatonin production decreases with age (according to a study from Experimental Gerontology). This suggests optimal doses of melatonin may change over the course of your lifetime. Lastly, remember melatonin supplements can't treat sleep disorders or chronic insomnia, but they are great for occasional sleeplessness and jet lag.
We’ve covered a lot of information here, but at the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which of these factors are most important to you in weighing the decision of which melatonin product to try. If you’re still really on the fence, consider trying more than one! You can always do your own comparison at home or check out our list of the best melatonin for sleep.