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Vitamin B-12 and Tension Headaches

by
author image Ireland Wolfe
Ireland Wolfe has been writing professionally since 2009, contributing to Toonari Post, Africana Online and Winzer Insurance. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and Master of Arts in mental health counseling. She is also a licensed mental health counselor, registered nutritionist and yoga teacher.
Vitamin B-12 and Tension Headaches
A tension headache is usually caused by stress. Photo Credit Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images

Tension headaches, also called stress headaches, are the most common form of headaches, according to MayoClinic.com. However, the exact cause of this type of headache is unknown. Tension headaches have been attributed to stress, posture or diet. Some experts believe that a vitamin B deficiency may cause headaches in certain people.

What Are Tension Headaches?

Tension headaches, medically known as tension-type headaches, affect 69 percent of men and 88 percent of women, according to "The Journal of the American Medical Association." Tension headaches can be episodic, occurring less than 15 days in a month, or chronic, occurring 15 or more days a month. Unlike migraines, tension-type headaches do not cause nausea or vomiting. But people with tension headaches are sensitive to light or sound. A tension headache can last anywhere from 30 minutes to seven days. Typical treatment includes over-the-counter pain reducers, massage and relaxation techniques.

Vitamin B and Headaches

All B vitamins are used to convert food into glucose and are important in metabolism. These vitamins are water-soluble, which means that the body does not store any excess. Different types of vitamin B have been attributed to headaches. According to a study cited by the National Headache Foundation that was published in “Neurology,” very high doses of vitamin B-2 may help to prevent migraine headaches. Vitamin B-6 has also been studied as a possible preventative medication for migraine headaches, especially menstrual migraines, but the results are preliminary.

Vitamin B-12

Most people get enough vitamin B-12 through their diet. Vitamin B-12 is found only in animal foods, such as fish, dairy, eggs and meat. Some vegans or elderly people may not get enough B-12 in their diet and need to take a supplement. B-12 deficiency can cause fatigue, shortness of breath, cognitive impairments, anxiety and diarrhea. No research has specifically studied the effect of vitamin B-12 on tension headaches, although some people have suggested that a B-complex vitamin, which includes B-12, can help treat headaches.

Precautions and Dosage

Although vitamin B-12 is considered safe and nontoxic, consult with your physician before adding a B vitamin supplement. Many people who are vitamin B-12 deficient are unable to absorb the vitamin because of other problems. You may need to get an injection in order to receive enough B-12 if you are severely deficient. Vitamin B-12 can also interact with other medications. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the recommended daily dose of vitamin B-12 for healthy adults is 2.4 mcg.

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