Potassium & Migraines

A woman holding her head and neck in discomfort.
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The electrolyte potassium is an essential mineral. Your body needs it in small amounts for proper skeletal, heart, muscle and digestive function. Dietary sources of potassium include bananas, some types of fish, meat, dairy products, avocados, citrus fruit, tomatoes, cantaloupes, lima beans and potatoes. Potassium levels may be involved with migraine headaches.



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Migraines are a type of headache that causes a very painful pulsing or throbbing in one area of your head. These headaches can cause light sensitivity, vomiting and nausea. Certain conditions may trigger migraines, including stress, hormones, lack of sleep or food, anxiety and exposure to light. Women are more likely to have migraines than men.

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Potassium and Migraine Causes

Different theories exist for the cause of migraines. One theory is that high levels of blood potassium can cause blood vessels to constrict in the head and this causes the pain and pressure associated with migraines. Another theory, described in an article published in 2010 in "Nature Medicine," is that a defect in a gene that regulates potassium levels may be responsible for migraines, at least in some people.

Potassium and Migraine Treatment

One of the medications that can be effective in treating migraines contains potassium. This medication, diclofenac-potassium, helps relieve both the pain associated with migraines and other associated symptoms, including nausea and vomiting. Diclofenac-potassium usually relieves pain within 60 to 90 minutes, and is generally well tolerated, according to a study published in June 1999 in "Drugs."



Most people get sufficient potassium from the foods they consume, so don't take a potassium supplement without first speaking with your doctor. Your potassium levels are unlikely to get too high from food alone, so don't avoid all sources of potassium in the hopes of avoiding migraines. Some potassium is necessary for good health.




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