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Vitamin Deficiencies & Migraines

by
author image Cydney Walker
Cydney Walker is a registered dietitian and personal trainer who began writing about nutrition and exercise during her dietetic internship in 2000. She has been featured in "Voices" and by the National Medical Association for her HIV research. She earned her master's degree in human sciences from Texas A&M University in Kingsville.
Vitamin Deficiencies & Migraines
An overhead view of vitamins in and around a bottle. Photo Credit Jelena83/iStock/Getty Images

Migraines are severe headaches that are accompanied by visual changes, sensitivity to light and sound, throbbing pain, nausea and possibly, vomiting. Women experience migraines more than males, but both genders suffer from migraine headaches. Current trends show the prevalence of migraines in women are double the rate in men -- 16 percent compared to 8 percent, respectively -- according to the Migraine Awareness Group. Migraines could be triggered by vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Before taking additional supplements to treat your migraines, speak with your primary health-care provider.

Folic Acid and B-12

Deficiencies of folic acid and B-12 are associated with headaches and migraines. Deficiencies of folic acid and B-12 cause pernicious anemia. When severe enough, it can trigger migraines as a symptom, in addition to fatigue, memory loss and irritability. Headache specialist Paula Maas, MD, notes that folic acid deficiencies can create B-12 deficiencies. Daily intake of aspirin can lower folic acid levels in individuals whose diet is poor in folic acid rich foods. B-12 deficiencies are rare, but the use of acid blockers for the treatment of acid reflux disease could lower your absorption of B-12 from dietary sources. Recommended intakes of folic acid and B-12 are up to 600 mcg and 2.4 mcg, respectively.

Pyroxidine

Pyroxidine participates in the synthesis of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. Vitamin B-6 or pyroxidine levels can become depleted with the use of birth control pills, and mild deficiencies are common. According to headache specialist Maas, pyroxidine or B-6 participates in magnesium use in the body. Migraine suffers possibly have low stores of magnesium in the body. Low pyroxidine levels could be related to your not being able to absorb and utilize magnesium effienctly. Suggested daily intake is 1.7 mg per day.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a vitamin and a hormone in the body. Exposing your skin to direct sunlight generates vitamin D in your body. Using sunscreens and spending most of your time indoors can lead to vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with cancer, especially breast and colon cancer, but its role in migraine prevalence could be related to increased pro-inflammatory responses in the body and magnesium absorption. Vitamin D assists with the absorption of magnesium, which may be low in people who suffer from migraines. According to physicians Steve Wheeler, Barclay Gang and Frederick Taylor, when vitamin D levels are within normal limits, it exerts an anti-inflammatory on your immune system by downplaying immunity factors that play a role in pain. Supplemental doses of vitamin D to correct for deficiencies could decrease the intensity and frequency of migraines. Wheeler and colleagues recommend 1,000 international units per 25 to 30 pounds of body weight and states that dosing based upon body weight provides non-toxic doses of vitamin D.

Copper and Iron

Iron deficiency anemia is common in women of childbearing age due to monthly losses of blood. Symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include headaches, irritability, weakness, fatigue and cracks in the corners of your mouth. Severe anemia can cause an increased frequency and severity of headaches leading to migraines. Copper assists with the absorption of iron. When anemia is suspected, copper may be deficient instead of iron. Copper also participates in blood vessel constriction and dilation. Maas states that migraines may occur more frequently if you are deficient in copper. Recommended intakes of iron are 18 mg per day for women of childbearing age. Men and postmenopausal females need 8 mg per day. Copper intakes are recommended at 2 mg per day.

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