Several specific vitamins are noted to be effective in alleviating migraine symptoms. Some research suggests vitamins are useful for migraine prevention as an alternative prophylactic agent for pediatric and adult migraine patients.1 Specific vitamins appear to influence symptoms of distinct migraine populations.
Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs to grow and develop normally. Most can be consumed from the foods you eat when you consume a balanced diet with a variety of foods. Vitamins have specific roles in body growth and function. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggest a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) that reflects how much of each vitamin people of different ages require on a daily basis. Individual needs may vary and some people may take vitamin supplements based on individual medical needs.
Migraine is a chronic debilitating neurovascular condition. Migraine headache pain is caused by the release of inflammatory substances around nerves and blood vessels in the brain. Symptoms can include pulsating and throbbing, one sided headaches, and auras. Additional associated symptoms include nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, neck pain, and muscle tension. Migraine can last hours or days.
Specific vitamins that pertain to migraine3
VITAMIN B2 or Riboflavin
Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, is essential for the body and plays a role in energy production, metabolism of fats and drugs, and the normal function, growth, and development of cells. Riboflavin is found naturally in some food sources, is added to other foods, and is available as a dietary supplement. Riboflavin is also produced by bacteria present in the large intestine during normal digestion.
Some studies have found that riboflavin supplementation can reduce migraine attacks, and certain people with migraine take riboflavin for migraine to help control their migraine symptoms.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot store; excess is excreted through the urine. It helps the body make antibodies, hemoglobin, and maintains normal nerve function. B6 helps break down proteins to aid digestion and keep blood glucose in balance. Good sources of B6 include avocados, bananas, legumes, nuts, cheese, eggs, and meats.
Vitamin B6 plays a role in synthesizing neurotransmitters that may affect the development of headaches and influencing the brain's pain receptors. A deficiency of B6 can reduce the ability to store and absorb vitamin B12, which can impact headaches.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Antioxidants are nutrients that impede some of the damage caused by the aging process. A water-soluble vitamin, it is neither made nor stored by the body, and excess is excreted through urine. It plays a role in the development of skin, bones and connective tissue. It is involved in healing, growth and repair of tissues, and helps the body absorb minerals such as iron. Vitamin C can be found in fruits and vegetables, specifically citrus, bell peppers, tomatoes and green vegetables.
Vitamin C, like B6, plays a role in neurotransmitter development.
Vitamin D plays a role in the absorption of calcium that helps to build strong bones. Your body makes Vitamin D naturally from your skin’s exposure to sunlight. It is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”. Foods rich in vitamin D include egg yolks, fatty fish and liver, and fortified foods such as cereal and milk. Like other vitamins listed, vitamin D is available as a supplement in different units (strengths).
Vitamin D is fat-soluble and stored by fatty body tissues. Levels of vitamin D affect nerves, muscles, and immune systems.
Recent research has begun to evaluate the role of vitamin D in migraine prevention. Vitamin D supplementation appears to reduce the frequency of headaches. It decreases neurogenic inflammatory factors.4 There is specific research on the combination of simvastatin and vitamin D supplementation. Findings noted a decrease in the number of migraine days when compared to participants who were taking a placebo.5 Always check with a physician before starting any medications, vitamins or supplements.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Appropriate vitamin E levels protect the body’s immune system and metabolic process functions. Nutrient sources for vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and leafy green vegetables. It may help migraine sufferers by widening blood vessels and reducing inflammation.
There are migraine diets that emphasize the eating of certain foods, and the elimination of others to maximize certain vitamins and minerals, while reducing migraine-trigger foods like sugar. Fortified foods are those that have had vitamins or minerals added to offer better balanced nutrition. They include foods like cereal and milk that are consumed by children to aid in growth and development.
Prevention and treatment
Effective prevention and treatment of migraine headaches may be improved by therapies that include medications, and an assessment of genetic and environmental conditions. These include vitamin deficiencies. Physicians evaluating the cause of recurrent migraine often look for underlying medical conditions, food intolerances, and sleep problems.5 Inflammatory conditions are also associated with migraine. The role vitamins can play to reduce inflammation requires additional investigation. Further research studies to assess the expanding role vitamins may play as a part of migraine therapy are needed.
You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your health care provider and should let them know of any other prescriptions, OTCs, and herbals you are taking to ensure there are no interactions.