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Could vitamin D help prevent migraines?

If you suffer from migraines, here are the treatments 2:27

Editor’s note: This content was created or selected by the Healthgrades editorial team and is funded by an advertising sponsor. Content is subject to Healthgrades’ medical review process for accuracy, balance, and objectivity.

. – When you’re in the middle of a migraine, the bright sunlight can be excruciating. But hiding from its rays on a regular basis can contribute to the development of these headaches. Low levels of vitamin D, which the body produces when exposed to sunlight, have been linked to migraines and other types of headaches.

Vitamin D and your body

Low levels of vitamin D were previously thought to cause only rickets, a condition that weakens the bones. Now, there is growing evidence to suggest that low levels affect almost every system in the body, including the brain.

Although research to show that low vitamin D causes migraine headaches is ongoing, several recent studies shed some light on the relationship. A report presented at a meeting of the American Headache Society found that 40% of people with migraines had low levels of vitamin D. Those with deficiencies also developed migraines at a younger age.

Avoid these foods that could cause migraines 1:55

Another study, published in the Journal of Headache Pain, shows that migraines are more frequent at higher latitudes. This fact, and the pattern of migraine pain depending on the season of the year, suggests that headaches occur in places where sun exposure decreases and vitamin D levels are reduced. Population studies indicate that about 42% of American adults have abnormally low levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D and the brain

Scientists recently discovered that various areas of the brain – including the hypothalamus, which has been linked to some types of headaches – have receptors for vitamin D, as well as enzymes that help convert it into a form that the body can use. This helps explain why a shortage of this vital nutrient could contribute to headaches.

If the association is shown to be one of cause and effect, vitamin D supplements could become another treatment option for people with migraine headaches. In fact, one researcher successfully treated two postmenopausal women with chronic migraines with vitamin D and calcium supplements. Obviously, a larger clinical trial can validate this theory.

Consult your doctor

If you suffer from chronic migraines, talk to your doctor about your vitamin D levels. They may recommend a blood test to determine your 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. If you are less than 20 ng / ml, you are deficient. Levels of 20 to 30 ng / ml are slightly low, and 30 to 74 ng / ml is the normal range.

Our bodies may find it difficult to produce enough vitamin D, as we are urged to protect our skin from the sun by staying indoors and wearing sunscreen or protective clothing. The government currently recommends 600 IU of vitamin D per day for teens and adults up to 70 years of age. Some good food sources are fortified milk, mushrooms, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna. If your levels are low, your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement.

– The medical content of this article was reviewed by: William C. Lloyd III, physician, American College of Surgeons.

Sources consulted:

Prakash S and Shah ND. Chronic Tension-Type Headache With Vitamin D Deficiency: Casual or Causal Association? Headache. 2009; 49 (8) 1214-22. Yang Y, et al. Is headache related with Vitamin D insufficiency? The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2010; 11 (4): 369.
Prakash S, et al. The prevalence of headache may be related to the latitude: a possible role of Vitamin D insufficiency? The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2010; 11 (4): 301-7. Wheeler SD. Vitamin D deficiency in chronic migraine. Headache. 2008; 48: S52-S53. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Consumers. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ Vitamin D, Migraine, and Health – Medical Complications: Optimize Therapy! American Headache Society. http://www.achenet.org/resources/vitamin_d_migraine_and_health/ Rickets. MedlinePlus, US National Library of Medicine. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000344.htm Migraine fact sheet. US Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women’s Health. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/migraine.html Forrest KY and Stuhldreher WL. Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults. Nutr Res. 2011; 31:48.

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