The Evidence: Chronic Migraines and Vitamin DeficienciesResearchers at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center recently conducted a study that linked migraines to the following vitamin deficiencies: vitamins D, B12, and B2, as well as coenzyme Q10. (3) Being deficient in those vitamins and nutrients, as it turns out, does raise your risk of suffering chronic migraines. But by combining nutrients, you may have greater success reducing migraine symptoms. (4)
Let's break this down one vitamin/nutrient at a time.
Vitamin DYes, the Sunshine Vitamin! This nutrient, now often called a hormone, is so important that our bodies make it through an intricate process of sunlight on skin. According to Migraine.com, vitamin D's connection to migraines has to do with its role as an inflammation-fighter. After all, migraines are rooted in blood vessel inflammation. (5) So if you suffer from migraines, make sure your body has enough vitamin D to fight inflammation by getting out in the sun at appropriate times, including the right fats in your diet, and taking a high quality Vitamin D supplement. Depending on your diet and values, consider eating egg yolks, shiitake mushrooms, and a vegan Vitamin D supplement. (6)
Vitamin B2Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin) is crucial for the growth of proper nervous system function and red blood cell production. It prevents many migraine symptoms, including fatigue and light sensitivity – both of which become a problem in cases of B2 deficiency. (7, 8) Of course, getting enough B2 from food sources is easy to do, but some of the highest concentrations of B2 occur in animal foods. Because of this, vegetarians and vegans should choose foods carefully and include a high quality B-Complex supplement (9).
- Fortified cereals and oatmeal
- Milk, cheese, and yogurt
Vitamin B12Let's set the stage, shall we? Several studies show a link between homocysteine and migraine -- migraine aura, in particular. Migraine sufferers have elevated levels of homocysteine in their blood. (10) So how do we keep homocysteine levels in check? This is where Vitamin B12 comes in. High homocysteine leads to inflammation associated with migraines. Vitamin B12 counters this. But be careful. As we age, it gets harder to metabolize B12 to counter that homocysteine. (11, 12) Vitamin B12, in particular, is only found in animal foods. If you do not eat any animal products, it's extremely important that you find a high quality supplement. "Fortified foods and supplements are the only proven reliable sources for vegans." (13) Otherwise, you can get your daily dose of B12 from some vegetarian foods:
- Nutritional Yeast
- Feta Cheese
- Cottage Cheese