Magnesium Supplementation for Migraine Patients

Magnesium is frequently discussed as a preventive therapy for Migraine. We know many Migraineurs live with a magnesium deficiency and that magnesium deficiency may promote cortical spreading depression, which is considered a key part of the initiation of the cascade of events in the brain that lead to a Migraine attack.

Unfortunately oral forms of magnesium (tablets or capsules) can be difficult for Migraine patients for two main reasons: (1) Side effects; and (2) Issues with our guts due to gastroparesis, which frequently results in low levels of absorption.

Fortunately, there are a number of other options for us to consider and try in order to find out if magnesium supplementation is helpful in preventing at least some of our Migraine attacks.

Alternative options to oral supplements include:

  • Magnesium Sulfate IV
  • Magnesium Sulfate IM
  • Topical magnesium solutions
  • Foods rich in magnesium

Magnesium Sulfate IV

Magnesium can be delivered quite effectively and efficiently by IV. This would need to be done in an appropriate office or infusion center setting and requires cooperation from your doctors. Unfortunately, not all of them will understand or accept that this is necessary or appropriate. But for those under the care of Headache Disorders specialists who get it, it's a great option.

Magnesium Sulfate IM

Magnesium can also be self administered by intramuscular (IM) injection. This option also requires cooperation of a knowledgeable specialist. It also requires willingness on your part to self administer injections. If you're needle phobic, it might be a challenge.

Topical Magnesium Solutions

Magnesium solutions you apply to your skin can be a wonderful alternative to oral forms of magnesium. This option eliminates the obstacles of physician cooperation (though you should of course let your physicians know you are using such products) and needle phobia.

Types of topical magnesium solutions:

  • Liquid
  • Gel
  • Lotion

Getting good absorption of topical magnesium options is key to making sure you receive the full benefits of these products.

These are some easy ways to increase absorption of topical magnesium:

  • Increase the area of application.
  • Increase the amount of time the application is left on the skin.
  • Increase the frequency of application.
  • Vary the location of application, keeping in mind that areas such as the scalp and armpits exhibit higher rates of absorption.
  • Increase the temperature of the area of application.
  • Maintain well-hydrated skin.

I have no affiliation with the business, but have heard wonderful things from many fellow Migraineurs about the magnesium sulfate products offered by Ancient Minerals.

Finally, you might want to focus on increasing your consumption of magnesium-rich foods. As always, keep your food triggers in mind when determining which foods to consume.

These are some magnesium-rich foods and milligrams of magnesium per serving:

  • Almonds, 1 ounce (80 mg)
  • Spinach, 1/2 cup (78 mg)
  • Soy milk, 1 cup (61 mg)
  • Avocado, 1 cup (44 mg)
  • Plain low-fat yogurt, 8 ounces (42 mg)
  • Kidney beans, 1/2 cup (35 mg)
  • Banana, 1 medium (32 mg)

For reference, the daily recommended magnesium consumption levels for adults are:

  • Ages 19 - 30 years: 310 for females; 400 for males
  • Ages 31+ years: 320 for females; 420 for males

For Migraine prevention, higher levels of magnesium may be necessary.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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