An estimated 1 billion people suffer from migraine disease worldwide. However, experts believe this figure is probably higher because the condition often goes undiagnosed.
For some, migraine episodes come and go. For others, attacks are a part of their daily lives and make it difficult to enjoy the things they once loved. Headache and migraine attacks can be debilitating and finding relief can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraine attacks, you may be wondering what’s causing them and which vitamins can help.
What Causes Headaches and Migraines?
Many things can cause headaches, and for some types, the cause isn’t well understood. Two of the most common types are tension and migraine headaches.
- Tension headaches occur when there’s tension in the neck and head muscles
- Migraine headaches occur when nerve endings in the brain cause pain
A tension headache can be caused by hunger, fatigue, stress, caffeine withdrawal, poor sleep or consuming certain foods or drinks.
On the other hand, a migraine episode is a little more complicated. Many things can trigger a migraine, and sometimes, it’s a combination of factors. Common triggers include:
- Bright lights
- Certain foods
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Food additives, like nitrates and MSG
- Certain smells
Regardless of the cause, headaches make it harder to enjoy life and carry out your normal routine.
While there are over the counter and prescription options for headaches, many people are looking for natural alternatives. There are several vitamins and natural supplements that have been shown to help with headaches and migraines.
5 Minerals and Vitamins for Headaches and Migraines
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. It plays an essential role in regulating your blood sugar, nerve function and blood pressure, but it may also help with headaches and migraines.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to headaches and migraines. This important mineral is believed to help by reducing pro-inflammatory signaling and reducing the activation of brain cell receptors linked to migraine development.
One review found that taking oral magnesium supplements can help prevent migraine episodes, while intravenous magnesium may provide relief during a migraine attack. Another smaller study found that taking 500 mg of magnesium oxide for eight weeks was just as effective as valproate sodium at preventing migraines – and without side effects.
Suggested dosage: 500 mg per day
2. Vitamin B2
B vitamins play an important role in the body, from your metabolism to helping you maintain healthy skin and hair.
Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, may help with headaches and migraines. Like other B vitamins, riboflavin helps with your metabolic processes and can have an antioxidant effect.
Experts believe that migraine attacks are linked to brain inflammation and oxidative stress, and B2 has been shown to combat both of these things.
One analysis found that taking 400 mg of B2 per day for three months reduced the pain, duration and frequency of migraine episodes without negative side effects. Even the American Headache Society recommends taking B2 for migraine.
Suggested dosage: 200 mg twice per day
3. Vitamin D
Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin – may also help with headaches and migraines. In fact, vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to migraine attacks. How can this essential vitamin fight against migraine and headache pain?
- It helps fight inflammation in the brain.
- It helps improve magnesium absorption.
- It helps reduce the production of substances linked to migraine attacks.
One analysis of five studies found that vitamin D supplements greatly reduced migraine headaches compared to a placebo. Another review found that 1,000-4,000 IU of vitamin D can help reduce the frequency of migraines.
Suggested dosage: 1000-4000 IU/d
CoQ10, or Coenzyme Q10, is a vitamin-like substance that acts like an antioxidant in the body. While more research is needed, there is some evidence that CoQ10 can reduce levels of enzymes associated with migraine attacks and nerve inflammation. In addition, because it acts like an antioxidant, CoQ10 may also help combat some of the oxidative stress that’s associated with migraines.
- One small study found that taking 200 mg doses of CoQ10 for 60 days reduced the frequency and severity of headaches without causing any adverse side effects.
- Other research shows that combining CoQ10 with other natural supplements, like magnesium or feverfew, may boost its effectiveness against headaches and migraines.
Whole grains, organ meat and oily fish are all rich in CoQ10, but supplements may be useful for people who suffer from migraines.
Suggested dosage: 100 mg, 2-3 times per day
5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids may help prevent migraines and headaches. Research shows that the oxylipins from omega-3s can reduce pain and eating a diet rich in this nutrient can help reduce the frequency and severity of headaches.
Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which may explain why they are helpful for migraine symptoms. After all, migraine is a neuroinflammatory disease.
Fish oil supplements are one way to increase your omega-3 intake, but you can also incorporate fatty fish into your diet, such as salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, sardines or trout. Just two four-ounce servings of omega-3-rich fish are all you need each week to meet your omega-3 needs.
Suggested dosage: 15-20 g per day
Other Natural Migraine Relief Options
Are you looking for other natural migraine relief options? Aculief has you covered.
- Our wearable acupressure clip activates the LI4 pressure point, which has been shown to alleviate headaches.
- Our Headache Relief Hat and Neck and Shoulder Relaxer Wrap use the power of heat and cold to alleviate pain and tension.
- Our Weighted Eye Mask uses compression to help alleviate tension headaches, sinus pain and even eye strain.
- Our My Relief Essential Oil Roll-on uses the natural therapeutic properties of peppermint, lavender, spearmint and chamomile to help with pain and tension.
- Our Acupressure Mat targets more than 7,000 acupressure points to alleviate tension and pain. The ergonomic pillow targets the neck and shoulders – common culprits of tension headaches.
Visit our online shop to view all of our headache and migraine relief options.