A migraine headache can ruin a great day or make a bad day worse. Up to 50 million Americans get frequent headaches that can make them feel miserable on a regular basis. Each year, headache is responsible for 157 million lost workdays, 10 million doctor’s visits, and $50 billion in health care costs.
A migraine headache is a throbbing or pulsating headache that often affects one side of the head and is associated with nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sound, and smells; sleep disruption; and depression. An aura, a sign that a migraine is imminent is characterized by light flashes, like zig zags of lightening, blind spots, tingling, numbness, or weakness on one side of the face or body; changes in emotion, mood and appetite that can occur immediately before or up to a day or two before the pain.
While there are many triggers for migraines the focus of this article will be on nutritional considerations.
Magnesium deficiency can cause regular headaches, cluster headaches, and migraines. Magnesium is the number one mineral deficiency in this country. Studies have shown that supplementing with magnesium can have a tremendous impact of reducing headaches, especially migraines. The most severe cases of migraines may actually be caused by low levels of magnesium. Some researchers have come to believe that the aura occurs as a result of a magnesium deficiency in the brain. This is not a surprising revelation considering the importance of magnesium to blood circulation.
Vitamin B complex deficiency is another trigger for migraine headaches. A classic symptom of riboflavin (B2) deficiency is when a migraine is triggered by bright light, glare or contrasting patterns. It’s evident that B2 is effective in preventing migraine headaches.
Pyridoxine (B6) is connected with the production of serotonin, a deficiency of which may cause migraines. Serotonin plays a major role in the relaxation and constriction of blood vessels. All of the serotonin in the blood is stored in the platelets and is released by platelet aggregation. This release in migraine sufferers appears to result in a serotonin deficiency. These low serotonin levels are thought to lead to a decrease in the pain threshold of these patients.
Niacin (B3) is also beneficial in that it reduces blood pressure as it dilates and opens constricted blood vessels, with the only side effect being hot flashes from too much niacin at one time.
Supplementing with folic acid found in a vitamin B Complex has demonstrated drastic improvement in headache frequency, pain severity and associated disability for those treated.
Typically being deficient of one B vitamin usually means being deficient in all B vitamins.
At the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Headache Society, it reported that 41.8% of patients with chronic migraine were deficient in Vitamin D. The study also showed that the longer individuals had chronic migraine, the more likely they were to be vitamin D deficient.
Essential fatty acids (EFA’s), aka omega III fish oil has been proven to reduce the body’s production of inflammation and pain causing hormones. EFA’s improve circulation and reduce inflammatory prostaglandins that may contribute to migraines.
It is best to consult with a doctor for the diagnosis of a migraine. While there are many triggers to migraine pain, taking these few steps toward balancing nutrient deficiency can make a tremendous difference toward enjoying a headache pain free life.
This information is for educational purposes and is not intended for diagnosis or treatment.