Throbbing pain, sensitivity to light, dizziness — the symptoms of migraines can be debilitating. If you suffer from migraines or headaches regularly, you might struggle to manage your daily responsibilities. However, you don’t have to accept frequent headaches as your reality.
Seeing your doctor is likely the best way to get to the root cause of your headaches or migraines. However, there may be a culprit that you’re not thinking of: vitamin deficiencies.
In some cases, headaches could be a sign that you’re not getting enough nutrients in your diet. This is why certain supplements may be a valuable part of your headache treatment plan. Here are some supplements that could help you find relief from frequent migraines and headaches.
Vitamin D deficiency causes more than just the winter blues. If you’re short on this essential nutrient, you might be at risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as chronic headaches. The link between headaches and a lack of vitamin D isn’t completely clear. However, researchers suggest that the nutrient may prevent inflammation and nerve-related pain, both of which may be linked to headaches and migraines.
So, how much vitamin D do you need? The National Institutes of Health recommends that most adults get 15 micrograms (mcg) per day. A standard supplement should do the trick for most people. If you’re looking for an extra boost of vitamin D, pack your diet with fatty fish, dairy, and fortified cereals. And, of course, try to get plenty of sunshine.
Magnesium supplements may provide another missing ingredient for migraine sufferers. Research shows that magnesium may prevent migraine headaches, while also reducing migraine symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and visual disturbances. Magnesium supplements may also be particularly helpful for women who experience hormonal migraines during their menstrual cycle.
The NIH recommends a daily dose of 400-420 milligrams (mg) of magnesium per day for men, and 310-320 mg for women. So be sure to check the dosage on the bottle when planning your daily supplements. Some food-based sources of magnesium include spinach, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Coenzyme Q10 is likely the powerhouse supplement you’ve never heard of. This compound works its magic in the mitochondria of the cell, preventing oxidative stress in the body. Research suggests migraine sufferers might have extra oxidative stress in the brain, so taking this supplement daily could reduce the number of migraines you experience.
While you should talk to your doctor about the right dosage for you, the general recommendation is 100 mg up to three times per day. You can also find this nutrient in meat, fatty fish, soybeans, and broccoli. Your medical provider may advise you to avoid this supplement if you take certain medications, such as blood thinners.
Commonly known as vitamin B2, riboflavin may reduce the frequency and duration of migraines. Like Coenzyme Q10, riboflavin is also present in the mitochondria. Researchers have found that this vitamin may boost the body’s ability to overcome mitochondrial defects. In other words, riboflavin helps your body metabolize energy more effectively.
Riboflavin supplements typically cause few to no side effects, so your doctor may recommend taking vitamin B2 if you experience headaches or migraines. The typical dose is 400 mg per day. This vitamin is also present in mushrooms, daily eggs, and fortified cereals.
While vitamin B2 could be a key player in migraine relief, researchers also recommend other B vitamins for headache prevention. Vitamin B12 and folic acid may be particularly effective at keeping headaches under control, while delivering a number of other health benefits. The B-complex vitamins support nervous system function and keep homocysteine levels in check (high levels are linked to heart disease).
The standard dosage suggestion for B12 is 2.4 mcg for people over 14, and the CDC recommends that women of reproductive age take 400 mcg of folic acid per day. However, since there are eight types of B vitamins on the pharmacy shelves, consult your doctor to find the right B supplements for your health needs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play a central role in the body, supporting brain function, boosting heart health, and even reducing cancer risk. Researchers have found that these essential compounds may reduce inflammation in the body. And while the verdict is still out, some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids could reduce the severity of migraines.
While these omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in fatty fish, supplements are available in the form of fish oil. You can typically find inexpensive fish oil supplements at pharmacies and grocery stores. There isn’t an official recommendation for how much fish oil you should take per day, so it’s best to ask a medical professional.
This bedtime supplement is often a go-to for struggling sleepers, but one study found that melatonin may also reduce migraine frequency. Findings suggest that 3 mg of daily melatonin may be more effective at reducing these headaches than a common migraine drug, while presenting fewer side effects. There is also research showing that individuals with migraines might not produce enough melatonin naturally.
Melatonin typically has few to no side effects, and the typical dosage ranges from one to 10 mg. However, be careful not to get too much of a good thing. Taking excessive melatonin may have the opposite effect, causing vivid dreams, grogginess during the day, anxiety, headaches, nausea, and dizziness. It’s also important to note that melatonin may react poorly with certain medications, such as immunosuppressants. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking melatonin for sleep or migraines.
While supplements may not be the only component of your headache treatment plan, research shows that they could be effective. The reality is that migraines and headaches are more than just an inconvenience. The symptoms of these events can interfere with work, activities, and time with loved ones. Working with your doctor to get your symptoms in check can provide much-needed relief for many migraine sufferers, and these supplements may help.