Vitamins and Migraine
Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Reviewed March 2022 | Last updated: November 2022
Our bodies need vitamins to grow and develop normally. Vitamins provide energy and play a role in many important processes that help us stay healthy. They naturally occur in many different types of foods.1-5
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests amounts of vitamins we need each day to fuel our bodies. This is called our recommended dietary allowance (RDA). Although there is much more to learn, some research suggests vitamins may play a role in migraine development or prevention.1-5
Types of vitamins
Examples of several vitamins that may help with migraine include:1-5
- Vitamin B2, also called riboflavin, plays a role in producing energy and breaking down fats or drugs.
- Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, supports our immune system. It is also involved in creating neurotransmitters. These are substances that help our nerves talk to one another and send signals, including pain.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means it protects our cells from damage. It is also involved in the development of the skin, bones, tendons, and more.
- Vitamin D helps us absorb other important nutrients in our gut. These include calcium and phosphorus, which play a role in bone development and energy production.
- Vitamin E is another antioxidant that also supports our immune system.
Vitamins and migraine research
Research on vitamins and their connection with migraine is ongoing. Some experts suggest that certain vitamins may reduce inflammation and lead to fewer migraine attacks. Others think vitamins may play a role in treating an active migraine. Since many vitamins are involved in making neurotransmitters, some experts think they may reduce pain signals.1,6-9
However, the exact relationship between migraine and vitamins is still an area of active study. Much more research is needed.1,6-9
Ways to get vitamins into your diet
Eating a varied diet will most likely provide many of the vitamins a person needs. Good sources of many different vitamins include:1-5
- Fruit, especially bananas, strawberries, and oranges
- Green, leafy vegetables
- Nuts and beans
- Lean meats like chicken
- Healthy fats, like avocados, vegetable oils, and fatty fish
This is not a complete list of all foods that contain vitamins. In many cases, foods in the United States are fortified. This means foods that normally do not contain vitamins have vitamins added. Cereals, grains, and milk are commonly fortified foods.1-5
Outside of our diet, vitamins can also be taken as supplements. Vitamin supplements usually come in capsule or tablet form. They can be purchased over the counter at a pharmacy or grocery store.1-5
Side effects of vitamins
Most of the side effects of vitamins come from having too much or too little of them. Some vitamins are water-soluble. This means they are not stored and are removed from the body quickly through our urine. Others are fat-soluble, including vitamins D and E. These can be stored up and reach high levels in the body.1-5
It is hard to get too much of a specific vitamin from diet alone. However, taking large doses of vitamins can lead to side effects, such as:1-5
- Tingling of the hands and feet (neuropathy)
- Nausea or decreased appetite
- Abdominal cramping
- Kidney stones
These are not all the possible side effects of taking too much of a vitamin. Talk to your doctor about what to expect or if you experience any changes that concern you while taking vitamins. You should also stop taking any vitamins until your doctor tells you it is safe to have them again.
Who should not take vitamins?
Most people benefit from eating a diet that contains many vitamins. However, some vitamins, especially when taken as supplements, can interfere with prescription drugs. Telling your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you take before starting a new drug can help determine if they are safe for you. Before taking vitamins, tell your doctor about all your health conditions.
Do not take vitamins if you are pregnant or breastfeeding without talking to your doctor first.
Things to know about vitamins
Before taking vitamins for migraine, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs. Vitamins may be “natural,” but they can affect your health and interact with other drugs you take.