For brevity in this article, we are focusing on the most relevant vitamins and minerals in the treatment of migraine, but other non-prescription supplements can be helpful in migraine therapy too.
Migraine is a neurological disease whose symptoms may vary in type, frequency, and intensity depending on each person, but most migraine sufferers will agree that anybody suffering from a migraine attack will do almost anything to alleviate them. That is how hard this condition can be in certain cases. The most characteristic symptom of migraine is an almost unbearable headache. Other symptoms that may appear include nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for migraine and the only thing we can do is to either treat it once it is triggered or much better prevent it from taking action. Therefore, vitamins and minerals will not cure your migraine, but they may certainly help some migraineurs in some instances.
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Vitamins and minerals that may affect your migraine
In most cases there is scientific evidence, or at least a possible reliable scientific explanation, that certain supplements – not only vitamins and minerals – could help relieve migraine symptoms. In order to find an explanation of why these supplements may help we have to go to the etiology of the disease, that is its cause. Mitochondrial dysfunction – a mitochondria is an organelle in charge of supplying energy to the cell – is often offered as an explanation for migraine triggers. Inflammation in nerves and blood vessels is also suggested as a possible culprit. On the other hand, some authors suggest that antioxidants could help reduce levels of neuropathic pain which is due to oxidative stress. Scientists put forward other explanations for the possible origin of this condition which would make this article too broad. One single factor or a combination of all to a certain extent could explain the etiology (the origin) of migraine.
The good thing about migraine vitamins and supplements is that they are rarely dangerous for health and can be ideal for those people who want to avoid adverse effects caused by prescription drugs or by women with a baby on the way who would like to play safe. Still, consulting your doctor is always strongly recommended to find your appropriate therapy.
As it happens in most of the diseases, in the case of migraine more than ever you can say that no two patients are the same. For some patients, certain vitamins and minerals intake could be enough for migraine prevention, whilst for others, vitamins and minerals can be just an add-on to their usual medications. It is however important to note that some vitamins or minerals may not help you at all. What is even worse, those vitamins and minerals may even trigger or aggravate migraine symptoms.
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In a nutshell, some vitamins may help you relieve the frequency and harshness of your migraine symptoms but not always works. That is why it is so important that a migraine sufferer visits his or her doctor for a proper diagnosis and an adequate treatment.
Vitamin D as a migraine vitamin
10 to 30 minutes several times a week of sun exposure to bare skin is enough to create vitamin D in a natural way in our bodies, but people with darker skin may require longer periods, particularly in the northern hemisphere where ultraviolet rays (UV rays) are significantly weaker in winter. As a general rule, the farther you are from the equator the weaker UV rays are. Vitamin D is also present in food such as eggs, tuna, salmon, soy milk, orange juice, or beef liver.
It is estimated that between 30% and 80% of children and adults worldwide have vitamin D deficiency, and several studies have shown a strong relationship between serum vitamin D levels and headaches. Approximately 42% of patients suffering from chronic migraine have vitamin D deficiency – whether this is the cause, the consequence, or just a sheer chance remains to be seen.
Some authors suggest that vitamin D protects the body from inflammation and keeps nerves healthy. This vitamin could also be involved in the release of dopamine and serotonin, which are two important neurotransmitters. Vitamin D seems to have proven to be beneficial for some patients suffering from migraine, reducing frequency of headaches. Appropriate levels of vitamin D (60ng/mL-80 ng/mL) also help uplifting sleep which at the same time may help to alleviate migraine symptoms. Still scientists do not recommend vitamin D supplementation for all patients unless they suffer from vitamin D deficiency.
Vitamin D levels affect the levels of magnesium as this vitamin can control as many as 200 genes taking part in its intestinal absorption.
Regarding dosage it is generally recommended a dose not higher than 600-800 IU daily for adults, and despite some studies suggesting that higher doses do not seem to have any adverse effects, 1000 IU per day are considered too high and may carry some risks for your health. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and as such it may be stored in your organism. Please visit your healthcare provider as the appropriate dosage may vary depending on several factors to be considered, including your own metabolism.
If you are in the United States you can take your vitamin D test online which includes a free doctor’s consultation.
You can buy vitamin D online.
Vitamin D3 is regarded as raising vitamin D levels in blood more efficiently. You can also buy liquid vitamin D3 online.
Folic acid as a migraine vitamin
This is the synthetic version of the naturally occurring vitamin folate (vitamin B9). Foods that are rich in folate include vegetables, fruit and fruit juices, nuts, eggs, dairy products, and meat among so many others.
Folate takes part in the energy production process of cells degrading carbohydrates as well as in the process of producing red and white blood cells in bone marrow.
Migraines may be the consequence of folate deficiency anemia according to some scientists.
You should always consult your doctor before taking this vitamin, particularly in those patients that suffer from kidney disease, have an infection, any type of anemia or are alcoholic. The usual dose recommended is 2 mg. Overdose symptoms often include numbness, mouth or tongue pain, weakness, confusion, and concentration difficulty.
If you are resident in the United States you can have your folate tested online.
You can buy optimized folate online.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 or ubiquinone) as a migraine vitamin
Most people obtain enough of this vitamin through a balanced diet (oily fish, liver, and whole grains, for example).
The relationship between coenzyme Q10 and migraine once again is questionable, but some authors suggest that coenzyme Q10 supplement could decrease the rate of headaches in migraine treatment according to some trials. Some studies suggest that women who suffer from coenzyme Q10 deficiency are more prone to have migraine headaches than men.
Coenzyme Q10 plays an important role in the management of energy in cells intervening in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and it is an important antioxidant.
This vitamin could interact with anti-cholesterol drugs and may even cause insomnia, for which we strongly advise that you consult with your healthcare provider. The recommended dosage is up to 300 mg daily. You will hardly see the benefit of taking this vitamin before one month and often it may take at least three months to notice any improvement.
If you are a resident in the United States you can have your coenzyme Q10 test online.
If you live in Europe we recommend this following site where you can buy Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) as a migraine vitamin
Riboflavin is present in food such as eggs, avocados, milk, organ meats or cereals to mention a few. This vitamin intermediates in the production of cells energy and plays a crucial role as an antioxidant, iron absorption and activation of vitamin B6. Riboflavin is stored in small amounts in the human organism and it is important to note that it is destroyed by constant exposure to light and alkalis such as baking soda, and that boiling foods may cause this vitamin to be lost.
The way vitamin B2 works – what is known as its mechanism of action – in the prevention of migraine is at the moment unknown apart from what is mentioned above.
Some experts suggest that riboflavin can certainly lower the duration and regularity of migraine attacks. The usual dose recommended is between 200 and 400 milligrams daily.
Vitamin B2 intake rarely causes serious side effects and due to its water-soluble properties excess is easily excreted by the human body. Still high doses may lead to diarrhea, itching, lack of feeling or numbness, burning sensations, and yellow discoloration of urine.
Sulfa-containing drugs (some diabetes medications or sulfonamide antibiotics among others), antimalarial drugs, estrogen and alcohol may affect riboflavin metabolism. Some tranquilizers and antidepressants may also inhibit riboflavin activation in the liver. So, it is recommended to consult your doctor.
Magnesium as a migraine mineral
Magnesium is absorbed through your intestine with your diet. Vegetables, cereals, and other types of food as well as coffee and tea generally provide you with the necessary amount of this mineral in a balanced eating habit. Magnesium also helps in the absorption of calcium.
Magnesium seems to help particularly those people who suffer from migraine with aura and those women who endure migraines with their menstruation. Scientists suggest that magnesium may help to relieve visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and other symptoms which are characteristic of migraine attacks. You will hardly notice any improvement in less than three months in migraine prophylaxis (migraine prevention).
Magnesium may affect the absorption of some antibiotics, might decrease your blood pressure, and increase adverse effects of muscle relaxants, for which we always recommend consulting your doctor. The usual dose of non-food magnesium recommended is between 400 and 500 milligrams daily depending on the person, with lower dosages frequently recommended for women. High doses of magnesium are not generally dangerous as your body gets rid of excessive amounts, but still high doses may cause diarrhea, vomiting and other side effects. For those people who tend to suffer from diarrhea vitamin B2 may help to prevent it too.
If you live in the United States you can get a test for magnesium levels online.
Alternatively you can purchase Extend-Release Magnesium here if you live in Europe.
Please have a look at our article related to the best vestibular migraine supplement.
The information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely upon the content provided in this article for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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