6 Science-Backed Vitamins for Headaches and Migraines
Medical Review by AHS Headache Specialist Zubair Ahmed, MD
Supplements are increasingly used to manage Migraine, but it’s not as simple as taking a multivitamin. A handful of specific vitamins for headache and Migraine have clinical evidence to back them up.
A migraine attack can be triggered by factors like diet, stress, exercise, and hormonal imbalance. In some cases, a vitamin deficiency leads to worsening of Migraine attacks or headaches. Studies show that a diet deficient in vitamins and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B6, folic acid, magnesium, and vitamin B12, could contribute to frequent migraines and other health issues.
A healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and other nutrients is critical to prevent a migraine and perhaps even treat it. Here’s everything you need to know about these essential vitamins for headaches.
Research suggests that lack of vitamin D may contribute to chronic headaches. Studies show that vitamin D protects your body from inflammation and aids nerve health. It is vital for brain health as its deficiency results in depression, anxiety, insomnia, and migraine 1).
As people remain indoors for most of the day and avoid stepping out without sun protection, it is difficult for the body to produce enough vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements act on specific areas of your brain and treat headaches. Instead of supplements, you can also consume foods rich in this vitamin to restore its levels.
Food Sources Of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to good health. A few foods that are high in vitamin D are fortified cereal, fortified milk, eggs, and mushrooms. And when it comes to animal sources, salmon, beef liver, caviar, and tuna are excellent sources.
You can even get your daily dose of vitamin D by just spending 5-10 minutes in the sun, two times a week.
Some doctors may check your vitamin D level to make sure it is in the normal range before treating you for migraine. Doctors advise a dosage of 2,000 milligrams of vitamin D for headaches.
Vitamins B6, B12, And Folic Acid
Studies showed that vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid, taken over six months, had visibly reduced the frequency of migraine attacks (2). If your diet lacks vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid, it may lead to elevated levels of homocysteine – which can lead to severe migraines and an increased risk of heart disease.
Experts recommend an average of 400 milligrams of B complex a day. Vitamin B2, or riboflavin is also essential for the body, as it provides energy, through metabolism of fats. Deficiency of this vitamin can hinder the normal functioning of the body, and even trigger a migraine.
Food Sources of B Vitamins + Folic Acid
Folic Acid: Fruits, whole grains, veggies, beans, and fortified and whole grain products are excellent sources of folic acid and can help retain the recommended levels of this vitamin in the body (3).
Vitamin B6: Vegetables, fruits, beans, poultry, and fish are good sources of vitamin B6. It is primarily found in dark leafy greens, oranges, papayas, and even cantaloupes.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is primarily found in animal products (fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy). People who follow a plant-based diet are often found to be deficient in this vitamin. Hence, such people need to increase their consumption of cereals, soy, and rice milk, which are rich in vitamin B12.
Vitamin B2: A lot of foods contain vitamin B2. Some foods rich in it are milk, yogurt, spinach, almonds, tomatoes, and beef.
Another essential element that can help Migraine is Magnesium. Magnesium is used to make energy for the brain. A dosage of 400-600 milligrams a day of magnesium is often used by physicians to reduce migraine frequency. It is widely known as the relaxation mineral as it can helps your body recover from stress.
Food sources of Magnesium
Some of the richest food source of magnesium is dark chocolate, white potatoes, shrimp, and quinoa. A diet rich in magnesium can help you avoid most types of migraine. Kale is considered to be another superfood for migraine that is rich in magnesium.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Finally omega-3 fatty acids are another essential nutrient that you can get from food sources to fight Migraine. They reduce inflammation, blood clots, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. There are studies which show that implementing a diet with olive oil and fish oil can help decrease frequency and the duration of severe migraine attacks (4).
Food Sources of Omega-3s
You can get fish oil from various foods and supplements like coldwater fish, sardines, herring, salmon etc. Apart from seafood you can also find it in walnuts, soybeans and dark green veggies like spinach and sprouts.
These are a few essential vitamins you should include in your diet that may decrease the recurrence of migraines and headaches. While vitamin supplementation might not completely get rid of migraines, mild deficiencies can be treated by increasing your intake of foods rich in these vitamins for headaches.