Vitamin Deficiencies May Be at the Root of Your Migraines | Keck Medicine of USC

Vitamin Deficiencies May Be at the Root of Your Migraines

Could easing your headache pain be as simple as taking a vitamin?

Auras, blinding pain, nausea. If you’ve ever had a migraine, you know how truly painful and debilitating they can be. If you get them regularly, you’re probably ready to try just about anything to stop them, from daily prescription medications to biofeedback sessions. Still searching for the perfect solution? Take heart: Good news may be on the horizon. New research is showing that relief may be possible by simply taking a daily vitamin D supplement.

The link between vitamin D and migraines

Many young adults, teens and children who get frequent migraines were more likely to have lower levels of vitamin D, riboflavin (B2) and coenzyme Q10, than people who don’t get migraines, found a recent study. A vitamin D deficiency showed up in 70% of the patients, while 30% had coenzyme Q10 levels at the low range and 15% had riboflavin levels below normal. The boys and men in the study were more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies, while the girls and young women were more likely to be low in coenzyme Q10.

Though the results are intriguing and offer hope to people who experience serious migraines, it’s too early to say if taking a vitamin supplement is all you need to do to prevent migraines. The patients in this study who had vitamin deficiencies took a daily vitamin, but they were also taking prescription migraine medications at the same time, so it was not possible for researchers to test if vitamin supplementation on its own would be effective.

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Vitamin deficiencies have been studied as a cause of migraines before, however that research was inconclusive. An analytic review of seven previously published papers on the possible link between migraines and vitamin D deficiency found that while 13.2 to 14.8% of migraine patients did have vitamin D deficiencies, so does the rest of the U.S. population in general.

Magnesium and migraines

Low levels of magnesium has also been investigated as a cause of migraines. One study in International Clinical Psychopharmacology found that in the migraine prone, headaches were 35.3 times more likely to happen when their magnesium levels were lower. The study also indicated that, in general, people who have migraines have lower levels of magnesium. However, it’s hard for your body to absorb magnesium, so it’s not likely a supplement will stop or ease your headaches.

Overall, even though the jury is still out on the effectiveness of vitamin supplementation as a way to prevent migraines, if you’re otherwise healthy and not going overboard on the amount you take, it’s fine to take a daily vitamin supplement. If you’re on medication or have other health issues, be sure to speak with your doctor first.

Do you experience migraines? See your primary care physician to find out what the most effective treatment options are for you.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and are looking for a new primary care physician, be sure to schedule an appointment by calling (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or by visiting

By Anne Fritz