There are many reasons why migraine headaches occur, including vitamin deficiencies. Now, let’s examine three vitamin deficiencies that have been linked to migraine pain.
1. Vitamin D
Research indicates a vitamin D deficiency may contribute to migraine headaches, and perhaps it is easy to understand why. Vitamin D safeguards the body against inflammation and supports nerve health. As such, a person dealing with a vitamin D deficiency may be more susceptible than others to inflammation and nerve pain that results in migraines.
A person can absorb vitamin D into his or her skin via direct sunlight. Therefore, in some instances, doctors recommend sun exposure on bare skin for about five to 10 minutes per day, two to three days per week to treat a vitamin D deficiency.
Additionally, vitamin D supplements are available. These supplements can be taken regularly to help a person gradually boost his or her vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D is easy to find in a variety of foods, too. Cheese, egg yolks, tuna, salmon and beef liver are foods rich in vitamin D. Meanwhile, soy milk and orange juice are among the beverages that contain high levels of vitamin D.
A lack of magnesium has been linked to headaches and migraines. Comparatively, magnesium supplementation sometimes helps people treat visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and other migraine symptoms.
Research shows magnesium sometimes offers a preventative migraine treatment. Various studies indicate migraine patients may require an average of 600 mg of magnesium over the course of three to four months to reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Also, studies reveal magnesium is often more effective to treat migraine pain in patients dealing with aura.
Certain foods and beverages can be added to a person’s diet to increase his or her magnesium levels. Cereals, black beans, nuts and grains are foods rich in magnesium, while tea and coffee are beverages that contain high levels of magnesium.
The daily recommended amount of magnesium is 400 mg to 420 mg for men and 310 mg to 320 mg for women, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, each person’s body absorbs magnesium at a different rate. This means the amount of magnesium required to combat migraines varies from person to person. And if a person’s body absorbs too much magnesium at once, this individual may experience diarrhea, cramps, vomiting and other adverse side effects.
Riboflavin, also referred to as vitamin B2, is essential to human health, as it breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy. Yet vitamin B2 can only be stored in small amounts in the body, and people who fail to consume and maintain adequate amounts of riboflavin may be susceptible to migraines.
A diet rich in foods that contain high levels of vitamin B2 may help an individual alleviate his or her migraine symptoms. Foods like avocados, eggs, fish, meat and poultry contain high levels of vitamin B2. But keep in mind that vitamin B2 is water-soluble, and boiling foods may cause riboflavin to be lost during the food preparation process.
Other Vitamin Deficiencies Associated with Migraines
In addition to the aforementioned vitamin deficiencies, people who lack sufficient amounts of folate and coenzyme Q10 may be more prone than others to migraine attacks.
Folate is a B-vitamin used to produce red and white blood cells in bone marrow, RNA and DNA, as well as transform carbohydrates into energy. Folate-deficiency anemia may develop in individuals who lack folic acid, a synthesized version of folate, in the blood. In this instance, an individual may experience migraines, along with a lack of energy, decreased appetite, pale skin and other physical symptoms.
A recent study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain highlighted the use of folic acid to treat migraine symptoms. The study revealed migraine patients who were given 2 mg of folic acid in conjunction with vitamins B12 and B6 achieved greater success in reducing their migraine symptoms than patients who received 1 mg of folic acid in combination with vitamins B12 and B6.
Coenzyme Q10 is a vitamin-like substance found in cells. Roughly one out of every 100,000 people are coenzyme Q10-deficient, the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes. Furthermore, a coenzyme Q10 deficiency may put a person at risk for migraines, heart disease and other medical issues.
In a recent study, researchers found individuals who frequently experienced migraines were more likely than others to have low levels of coenzyme Q10. They also discovered women who were coenzyme Q10-deficient were more susceptible than men to migraine headaches.
How to Treat Migraines Caused by a Vitamin Deficiency
Consulting with a doctor is the best way to treat a migraine caused by a vitamin deficiency. A doctor may prescribe migraine medications to treat migraine pain and offer tips and recommendations to prevent a single migraine from becoming a recurring problem.
For those who are dealing with ongoing migraines related to a vitamin deficiency, a consultation with a neurologist may be required. A neurologist can provide a chronic migraine diagnosis, and he or she may also prescribe migraine medications.
If a chronic migraine patient finds his or her current migraine medications are ineffective or cause intolerable side effects, Dr. Jonathan Cabin of The Migraine Institute can help. Dr. Cabin is a head and neck surgeon with dual-subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery, and his unique expertise enables him to offer personalized chronic migraine treatments. To learn more about how Dr. Cabin helps patients dealing with chronic migraine pain, please contact us today at 310.461.0303.