Magnesium and Migraine

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2024 | Last updated: February 2024

Magnesium is a mineral that is naturally found in our bodies. It has many important jobs such as regulating muscle function, blood sugar, and blood pressure. It also is important when making protein, bones, or DNA.1

What is magnesium?

Magnesium is an essential mineral found in our bodies. It can also be naturally found in many foods and added to fortified foods. If you do not eat enough magnesium, you may have a magnesium deficiency. Some medical conditions also impact the body’s ability to absorb magnesium. These conditions include:1

  • Stomach or intestine conditions like Crohn’s disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Thyroid disease
  • Alcohol dependence

Experts think there may be a link between migraine and magnesium. Low magnesium levels can impact the central nervous system and brain and may be connected to headaches. Some research shows that people with migraine disease are more likely to be deficient in magnesium.1,2

Magnesium deficiency is also related to conditions that are risk factors for migraine disease progression. These include increased stress, being overweight, and caffeine overuse.1,2

Sources of magnesium

Magnesium can be found naturally in many foods, such as:1

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes, like beans
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Fortified breakfast cereal
  • Milk and yogurt

You can also buy magnesium supplements in several different forms like capsules, tablets, or liquid. Magnesium can also be used in powder form, such as Epsom salt for a bath. If you are very deficient in magnesium, your doctor can prescribe magnesium injections.1

Magnesium and migraine research

Magnesium is one of the most well-studied supplements used for the prevention of migraine. One study found that magnesium infusions could reduce the length of a migraine. It also found that regularly taking a magnesium supplement by mouth shortened how frequent and severe the migraine attacks were.1-3

Research on the dose of magnesium for migraine is mixed. The most commonly recommended dosage of magnesium is 400 to 500 mg per day. Talk to your healthcare provider about the right dosage before starting a magnesium supplement.1-3

What are the possible side effects of magnesium?

Side effects of magnesium include:1

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Stomach cramping

Magnesium can also interfere with some medicines. These include:1

  • Some antibiotics
  • Bisphosphonates
  • Diuretics
  • Proton pump inhibitors
  • Thyroid medicines

People with progressive kidney disease or kidney failure should be cautious when considering taking a magnesium supplement. Their body may have difficulty filtering magnesium through the kidneys. This can result in higher levels of magnesium in the blood. Too much magnesium can be toxic in the body and may cause serious side effects.1

These are not all the possible side effects of magnesium. Talk to your healthcare provider about what to expect when taking magnesium. You also should call your healthcare provider if you have any changes in your health that concern you when taking magnesium.

Other things to know

Supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the same way other drugs are. This means that no outside agency confirms the ingredients or suggested dose.4,5

For example, a fish oil supplement may have more or less fish oil than listed on the label. A supplement may also contain ingredients that are not labeled correctly or at all. This can be dangerous. It can lead to taking too much or taking unwanted ingredients.4,5

The FDA created good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to help this situation. GMPs are guidelines for companies to follow when making supplements. The FDA rarely inspects facilities making supplements in the United States. Companies outside the United States do not have these inspections. But many more supplements are sold than are tested. Your healthcare provider can help you decide if a supplement is safe.4,5

Before beginning treatment for migraine, tell your healthcare provider about all your health conditions and any other medicines, vitamins, or supplements you take. This includes over-the-counter medicines.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.