Scientists suggest there are links between deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals and migraine. They also indicate that supplementing these nutrients may ease symptoms.

For example, vitamin D, riboflavin, and magnesium may be beneficial for people experiencing migraine headaches.

Migraine is a common condition that can severely affect people’s well-being, work, and social interactions. Some people cannot tolerate the side effects of medications for migraine headaches, and others may want to try a more natural approach to ease symptoms.

People can be deficient in specific nutrients due to their diet, lifestyle, and other factors, which may cause them to be more susceptible to migraine attacks.

In this article, we examine particular nutrients that may help people experiencing migraine headaches and migraine episodes. We also suggest lifestyle strategies and therapies that people can try to help ease their symptoms.

A person with migraine who may have a vitamin deficiency.Share on Pinterest
Sergey Filimonov/Stocksy

According to a 2020 review, vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for migraine headaches, especially in people with vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D has complex interactions with metabolism, hormones, and genes that influence the body’s ability to process sensory information and the likelihood of migraine headaches.

The authors of the review suggest that vitamin D suppresses inflammation and nitric oxide, influences the release of neurotransmitters, and can influence pain. These are mechanisms that may contribute to migraine headaches if there is a deficiency.

People need vitamin D to absorb magnesium, and because magnesium deficiency may also contribute to migraine headaches, a lack of vitamin D could further increase the likelihood of migraine episodes.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend 15 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D daily for up to age 70 and 20 mcg for over age 70.

Learn more about vitamin D deficiency here.

Magnesium works closely with vitamin D in the body, so both of these nutrients could be essential in preventing migraine headaches.

Research suggests strong evidence for the link between magnesium and migraine and the pain-relieving effects of this mineral.

Furthermore, magnesium has a role in neuromuscular function and nerve transmission, and protects against excessive excitation of neurons. These properties may be how it protects against migraine headaches.

The NIH recommends 310–320 milligrams (mg) of magnesium a day for females and 400–420 mg for males.

Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is an essential nutrient to help the mitochondria in our cells produce energy. Because some research associates mitochondrial dysfunction with migraine, supplementing riboflavin may help to prevent them.

A 2017 literature review indicates that five clinical trials show positive effects of riboflavin in preventing migraine episodes in adults, and four trials show a mixed impact on children and adolescents.

Additionally, a randomized controlled trial suggests that taking a combination of 400 mg riboflavin, 600 mg magnesium, and 150 mg coenzyme Q10, along with a multivitamin for 3 months, could have beneficial effects on migraine symptoms and burden of disease.

The NIH recommends consuming 1.1 mg of riboflavin for females and 1.3 mg for males. Some studies may use much higher amounts. However, someone should speak to a healthcare professional to determine whether supplementing riboflavin may benefit them.

Like riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 has an essential role in producing energy in the mitochondria, the body’s energy powerhouses in cells.

A 2018 review indicates that supplementing coenzyme Q10 may help prevent migraine headaches. However, scientists need to conduct more studies before recommending it as a preventive treatment.

Learn more about coenzyme Q10 here.

Migraine is a common headache disorder that can be debilitating and affect someone’s quality of life. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the third most prevalent illness globally, affecting 12% of the population, including children.

The International Headache Society explains the two major types of migraine:

  • Migraine without aura: A recurrent headache disorder with attacks that last 4–72 hours, with characteristics including: moderate or severe pain, aggravation by routine physical activity such as walking or climbing stairs, nausea, and sensitivity to light or sound.
  • Migraine with aura: Recurrent attacks lasting 5–60 minutes with aura symptoms developing gradually and including visual, sensory, motor, or speech disturbance, and a headache.

Migraine triggers may include certain foods or environmental stimuli such as the weather or smells. Symptoms may also occur with some medications or when someone is experiencing dehydration, stress, or fatigue.

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute to migraine headaches, and supplements to improve nutrient levels may help some people.

Someone who has migraine episodes should see a doctor for a diagnosis and treatment. They may recommend medication. Additionally, there are some lifestyle strategies and therapy approaches that people can try at home.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, lifestyle strategies that people can try include:

  • maintaining a regular sleeping and eating schedule every day
  • staying hydrated
  • exercising regularly with low-impact activities
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • keeping a migraine diary and recording triggers
  • managing stress with relaxation techniques, breathing exercises, and meditation

Someone can also try:

The causes and triggers for migraine can be complex and involve many factors, such as:

  • certain foods
  • stress
  • lack of sleep
  • environment
  • deficiencies in particular nutrients

People deficient in vitamin D may benefit from a supplement, and researchers indicate that magnesium and riboflavin may also be effective in helping migraine headaches. Additionally, coenzyme Q10 could help ease migraine symptoms. However, there is not enough evidence for healthcare professionals to recommend this.

Lifestyle strategies such as stress relief, exercise, adequate sleep, and therapies such as yoga or acupuncture may help prevent or ease migraine symptoms.

Anyone thinking of taking supplements to relieve or prevent migraine headaches should check with a doctor before doing so, especially if they are currently taking prescription medication.