If you want to manage your migraine headaches without taking more pharmaceuticals than absolutely necessary, then it makes sense to set your body up for success with the right nutrients.
Thankfully, there is growing research that certain vitamins may help you reduce your migraine symptoms and live better with your condition. Since this article is intended to teach you about vitamins for migraines, let’s get right into it.
Vitamin D has two main forms, D2 and D3. The human body uses vitamin D to build and maintain healthy bones because it can only absorb calcium if vitamin D is present. But vitamin D also helps regulate many bodily functions at a cellular level. Vitamins D2 and D3 differ from each other in molecular structure and sources. Essentially, D2 comes from plant sources, and D3 comes from animal sources.
Vitamin D2 for Migraine
There is evidence that vitamin deficiency, including low vitamin D, may lead to migraine. This could be because vitamin D plays a role in combating brain inflammation, and may also improve your body’s ability to absorb magnesium, which is also important for migraineurs (more on that later). Since vitamin D deficiency is thought to contribute to migraines, you might consider taking supplements if you feel you’re not getting enough.
In 2021, there was an analysis of several studies that revealed that supplementing with vitamin D (compared with placebo) made a significant positive impact on the severity, frequency, and duration of migraines.
Another study review zeroed in on a potential dosage and found that taking 1,000 to 4,000 IU (international units) of vitamin D per day may reduce migraine frequency.
Vitamin D3 for Migraine
Studies of vitamin D3 for migraine relief have shown an association with reductions in migraine days, which makes it worth trying if you suffer from chronic headaches or migraines.
In one study, after 4 weeks of baseline reporting, patients were randomly assigned to undergo 24 weeks of either 100 μg/day of vitamin D3 or placebo. A 50% reduction in migraine frequency was recorded from baseline to the final follow-up at 24 weeks.
Vitamin D studies are ongoing, and more research is needed on the dosage, effectiveness, and safety of vitamin D in migraine prophylaxis.
While not technically a vitamin, magnesium is a critical mineral because it helps maintain the function of muscles and nerves, as well as blood pressure.
Magnesium for Migraine
Science has connected magnesium deficiency to both migraine and regular headaches. In a variety of ways, magnesium is believed to play a role in migraine prevention and treatment.
Specifically, the study referenced above found that magnesium may reduce inflammation-producing signals during the development of a migraine attack and that it could help to prevent the over-activation of related receptors in the brain.
In women, research done in the 90s indicates that taking a magnesium supplement could be helpful in treating migraines associated with pre-menstruation. It’s also been found that women with the highest magnesium intake were less likely to have a migraine than those with the lowest intake.
For everyone else, a review of 21 different studies found that magnesium given intravenously may provide significant relief from acute migraine attacks. On the other hand, oral magnesium supplements may help with prevention, lowering both frequency and intensity.
In 2021, another study concluded that 500 mg of magnesium oxide taken daily for a period of 8 weeks prevented migraine about as well as valproate sodium, a pharmaceutical drug, but did so without any side effects.
Magnesium for migraine is supported by the American Migraine Foundation, which recommends taking magnesium oxide in a dosage of 400-600 mg daily as a preventative.
Taking magnesium supplements may cause diarrhea if you get too much. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist about your dosage.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is involved in many of the body’s metabolic processes and may play a part in migraine pathways.
Vitamin B2 for Migraine
Oxidative stress means there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body, and this can lead to inflammation. Migraine attacks are thought to have a relationship to oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.
Vitamin B2 may help to reduce oxidative stress, thus reducing brain inflammation thought to be related to migraine headaches. In 2015, eleven studies were reviewed, showing that vitamin B2 taken every day for 3 months significantly reduced migraine duration and frequency.
In other studies, researchers have found evidence that 400 mg of vitamin B2 taken daily reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by two per month in adults when compared to placebo. For kids, 200 or 400 mg of vitamin B2 per day for 3 to 6 months significantly reduced migraine attack frequency over a 3-month period and lowered migraine intensity during the treatment period.
People tend to tolerate vitamin B2 very well without serious side effects. The American Headache Society, National Headache Foundation, and other health organizations recommend it for migraineurs.
Another type of vitamin B that shows potential for migraine prophylaxis is vitamin B12, which is heavily involved in red blood cell formation, DNA production, cell metabolism, and nerve function.
Vitamin B12 for Migraine
A study published in Headache compared vitamin B12 status in 70 migraine sufferers with 70 healthy people with similar demographics. Serum levels of vitamin B12 were found to be significantly lower in migraine patients than in healthy subjects.
Another study focused on migraine sufferers with elevated homocysteine levels (another indication of deficiency of vitamin B12 and other B vitamins). Participants were given vitamins B12, folic acid, and vitamin B6. Their homocysteine levels went down, while their migraine-related disability improved. It’s still unproven, but higher homocysteine levels are also thought to be responsible for stroke risk in people with migraines with aura.
Vitamin E is important for reproductive health, eye health, and the health of your brain, blood, and skin. It also contains antioxidant properties.
Vitamin E for Migraine
The female migraine sufferer who tends to get migraine attacks around her menstrual cycle may be interested in taking vitamin E. Menstrual migraine studies have focused on taking 400 IU per day for 5 days during 3 menstrual cycles. In these patients, vitamin E supplements have been shown to provide some migraine relief and to lower the need for abortive migraine drugs.
As far as how vitamin E works, it is believed to inhibit the synthesis of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are thought to play a role in the trigeminal pain pathways related to migraine. Study suggests that blocking prostaglandins could be a potential drug development target when for acute migraine attacks.
Safely Sourcing Vitamins for Migraine
If you’re interested in taking vitamins for migraine prevention and support, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about any supplements or medications you are already taking.
First, you’ll want to be sure that supplementing with vitamin D, vitamin D3, magnesium, vitamin B2, vitamin B12, or vitamin E won’t interfere with your medicines.
Second, although some of the vitamins in this article list the studied doses, everyone is different. Just because a certain dose has been studied doesn’t mean that amount is right for you. Adverse reactions are possible with too much of anything, even vitamins.
Third, you’ll need to find a reputable source for your vitamins. There are hundreds if not thousands of options, and a lot of them may include additives, fillers, or be made using suboptimal practices.
At Thuswell, our supplements include vitamins and minerals that show promise in helping you manage your migraine symptoms, such as vitamin B2 (riboflavin), magnesium, and CoQ10. Our supplements are manufactured in an FDA-registered facility under the highest standards, with no additives or fillers.