Migraines affect an estimated 1 billion people each year worldwide. Medical professionals have not been able to isolate a single cause for migraines, but it has generally been thought to be a combination of genetic bad luck, hormonal fluctuations, diet and lifestyle. New research indicates that diet may play a more significant role than previously thought.
Migraines are not just bad headaches, they are a nervous system disorder that commonly manifests as disrupted vision and dizziness, severe headaches, nausea and photosensitivity. Other symptoms can be sensitivity to touch, sound and smell, and numbness in the extremities. Women experience migraines more commonly than men, probably because of hormonal fluctuations. Migraines are most common between the ages of 35 and 55.
Researchers have linked migraines to deficiencies in vitamin D, co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and magnesium. Vitamin D deficiency seems to be the big one, but co-enzyme Q10 also plays an important role. CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance, responsible for creating energy at a cellular level and is a powerful antioxidant. CoQ10 deficiency is pretty common, especially in women. Both of these nutrients can be obtained from supplements. Of course, you should always try to include them in your diet and lifestyle as much as possible. But if you find you’re not quite getting all you need, About Health’s Lester’s Oil contains concentrated amounts of vitamin D as well as your recommended daily dose of Co-enzyme Q10. Being a fish-oil based supplement, it’s also excellent for heart health.
In June 2016 a study into the link between vitamin deficiencies and migraines was presented by Dr. Susan Hagler at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society in San Diego. Hagler and her team at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center measured levels of vitamin D, co-enzyme Q10, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and folic acid and found that 51% of participants had below average levels of one or more of these vitamins. The study involved over 7,400 participants (children, teens and young adults). These findings clearly justify further research to determine whether migraine sufferers would benefit from vitamin supplementation.
This research also complements an earlier (2002) study at Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia into CoQ10 as a treatment for migraines. 32 patients with a history of migraines took part in the study, finding after four weeks that there was an improvement in symptoms, and after five to twelve weeks a reduction in symptoms of 50% or more. No adverse effects were experienced by any of the participants. 93.5% of patients had at least a 25% reduction in the number of days per month that they suffered from migraines, and only two patients showed no improvement.
Although the body produces CoQ10 naturally, this decreases with age, and deficiency is relatively common in all age groups, so taking a supplement could be the answer to migraines. It has also been linked to many other important functions, particularly heart health and eyesight. Although studies indicate there are no side effects to taking a CoQ10 supplement, it may react to certain medications, so check with your doctor. If you are diabetic you should also discuss with your doctor before taking a CoQ10 supplement, as the jury is still out on whether it is a good idea for diabetics.
A 2012 study found that around half of migraine sufferers are deficient in magnesium (although it is very difficult to precisely measure magnesium levels in the body). This is thought to be because they either have difficulty absorbing it due to a genetic predisposition or high levels stress, or because of low dietary intake.
Nutrients that can help to treat migraines:
The best way to increase you vitamin D is to get some sunshine regularly in small doses (but take care not to get burnt). It’s almost impossible to get enough vitamin D from our diet alone, but food sources include fatty fish and egg yolks. Another source is Lester’s Oil, which contains a combination of vitamin D and CoQ10, as well as other essential nutrients.
Found in oily fish and organ meats, such as beef liver, organic chicken, whole grains, sesame seeds, broccoli, cauliflower.
Found in dark leafy greens, black beans, salmon, avocado, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, almonds, banana, figs. You could also try About Health’s special magnesium formula, Element 12, which also contains vitamin B2.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Found in spinach, beets, eggs, asparagus, almonds.