Using Nutrition to Prevent Migraines
We’ve seen throughout the course that naturally-occurring chemical compounds in food and herbs can be used to treat migraines. Some of these are considered nutrients, like the electrolytes we discussed in the first episode, and others are anti-inflammatory or antioxidant compounds, like the herbal remedies we just covered.
Many other nutrients are known to improve migraines over time. Nutrients are distinguished from the other chemical compounds because they are essential to human life. Research has shown that increasing the intake of certain nutrients can have long-term effects on controlling migraines.
Riboflavin, or vitamin B2, is a nutrient that helps the nervous system function properly. It also works as an antioxidant, cleaning up chemical toxins inside the body. Riboflavin deficiency is known to cause light sensitivity and fatigue.
Studies have shown that riboflavin supplements of 400mg taken every day can prevent migraines and make them less severe. The recommended daily intake is just over 1mg, so this is an extremely high dose and can have some side effects, like diarrhea. Consult with your doctor for a recommendation on dosage before starting riboflavin supplements for migraine.
Another nutrient that has been clinically proven to reduce migraines is called Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10. We don’t often hear of this nutrient because it is created naturally inside our bodies, so it doesn’t appear on nutritional labels. Under normal conditions, the body creates enough CoQ10 for its needs.
CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant that helps convert food into energy. In addition to migraines, clinical studies have shown that it is useful in heart conditions, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes. The recommended dose for CoQ10 supplements is between 30mg and 200mg daily, and it should be taken with a meal to help with absorption. CoQ10 may have interactions with a wide array of medications, so your doctor or pharmacist should be consulted.
Any of the other nutrients will be effective in specific cases where there is a deficiency. For example, women often become anemic during their menstrual cycle, and this can lead to migraines. Supplementing with iron before and during the menstrual cycle may help prevent migraines during this time of the month.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is another kind of anemia called pernicious anemia, which can also lead to migraines. It occurs most often in people with gastric disorders, because they aren’t absorbing enough B12 into the bloodstream. In such cases, supplements have a limited effect, but B12 injections from the doctor often prove effective.
Nutrition is a complex subject, and everyone’s nutritional needs are slightly different. Making sure you are getting enough of all the essential nutrients is a critical step in reducing and preventing migraines over the long term.
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