Vitamin B & Magnesium for Migraines

A migraine is a type of headache characterized by a pulsating or throbbing pain that usually affects one part of the head. Some migraine sufferers also experience visual disturbances and nausea. You can help to prevent a migraine by avoiding exposure to your migraine triggers, which could include stress, certain foods, bright lights and alcohol. If you get migraines frequently, your doctor may prescribe medicines to prevent them. Vitamin B-2 and magnesium may also help prevent a migraine, although evidence to prove this is limited. Talk your health-care provider before taking supplements.

A woman sitting at her laptop rubbing her temples with a headache. (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)

Properties and Potential Benefits

Magnesium is an essential mineral that the body needs to perform a number of biochemical processes, including DNA and protein synthesis, cellular signaling and energy production. It may also play a role in the prevention and treatment of asthma, hypertension and osteoporosis. The University of Maryland Medical Center adds that it may reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Vitamin B-2 is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a role in several physiological processes, including skin function. Medline Plus adds that it is also sometimes used to help prevent migraines.

Sources and Dosage

Magnesium is found in a variety of foods, including dark green vegetables, nuts, seafood and meats. It is also available as a dietary supplement. A host of foods contain vitamin B-2. Milk, eggs and green vegetables are rich sources. Like magnesium, vitamin B-2 is also available as a dietary supplement. UMMC suggests taking 200 mg to 600 mg of magnesium or 400 mg of vitamin B-2 daily to help prevent a migraine.

Scientific Evidence

The results of a clinical study published in the June 2008 issue of "Magnesium Research" show that magnesium is more effective than placebo in reducing migraine frequency and severity. The authors conclude that it may be an effective prophylactic treatment. The results of a study published in the July 2004 issue of the "European Journal of Neurology" show that vitamin B-2 reduces migraine frequency but not severity.

Safety Considerations

Medline Plus states that taking a vitamin B-2 supplement is likely safe, although large doses may cause diarrhea. Don't take more than 1.4 mg per day if you are pregnant, or 1.6 mg per day if you are breastfeeding. Taking large amounts of magnesium may cause cramping, diarrhea and nausea. It may also interact with other medicines you may be taking, including digoxin and tetracycline antibiotics.

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