Migraines manifest differently, meaning everyone’s experience of them is unique. Frequency, duration, intensity, symptoms and triggers are entirely dependent on the individual. We all have our own ways of managing our migraine episodes, and although there are medications available to treat these debilitating headaches, they can present unpleasant side effects and, at times, can even lead to dependency. As a result, many of us are turning to natural alternatives.
Various studies highlight a correlation between vitamin D and headache, whilst others provide strong evidence to suggest that vitamin D supplementation can help to reduce the frequency of migraines and relieve pain. So, what is the connection? Is this an effective treatment chronic migraine sufferers should be exploring in more depth? Let’s find out…
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient. It helps us to absorb calcium, which is vital for bone health. Our muscles need vitamin D to move, our nerves need it to send signals all over the body and our immune system needs it to protect us from harmful substances, including bacteria and viruses.
The main source of vitamin D is sunshine. That’s why it’s often termed the “sunshine vitamin”. Our body creates it when our skin is exposed to direct sunlight. Unfortunately, here in the UK, we’re not blessed with hot, sunny weather all year round. Having said that, according to NHS England, from late March through to September, most of us should be able to get all the vitamin D we need from natural sunlight.
Vitamin D can also be found in some foods – namely, oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, egg yolks and fortified foods like cow’s milk, soy milk and cereals – and nutritional supplements are available via your GP.
If you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you may develop a vitamin D deficiency, which can put you at increased risk of some health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, immune disorders and diabetes.
The UK government advises everyone to consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement of 10 micrograms during the winter months (October to March). However, a 2021 survey commissioned by the British Nutrition Foundation revealed that 49% of British adults are not aware of this recommendation. It found that around one in six of those surveyed had low levels of vitamin D in their blood.
It can be difficult to detect a lack of vitamin D, but common vitamin D deficiency symptoms include:
If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, consult your doctor. Once you have been diagnosed, your vitamin D levels should be regularly monitored.
So, can lack of vitamin D cause migraines? And are migraine sufferers at higher risk of developing a vitamin D deficiency? It appears so. Emerging scientific evidence suggests that there is a close link between low vitamin D and migraine.
One 2018 study sought to understand the “casual relationship” between migraine and deficiency of vitamin D. It evaluated first-visit migraine patients, taking factors such as demographics, season, migraine sub-types, frequency, severity, impact of migraine, psychological and sleep variables, climate and vitamin D levels into consideration. Out of the 157 patients, a staggering 77.1% had a vitamin D deficiency. This association applied to both episodic migraine and chronic migraine.
Another study assessed vitamin D levels and symptoms in 100 adults with chronic-type tension headaches. It revealed that those evaluated were more likely to be vitamin D deficient and experience muscle and bone tenderness.
Current research indicates that vitamin D may be beneficial to people with migraines, especially those with a vitamin D deficiency, in helping to reduce the frequency of attacks.
In one randomised 24-week trial, 48 migraine patients of various ages were assigned to receive vitamin D3 or a placebo, and migraine attacks and related symptoms were assessed by self-reported diaries. Migraine patients on vitamin D3 demonstrated a significant decrease in migraine frequency compared to the treatment group taking the placebo.
Alongside reducing migraines, vitamin D supplementation has been found to play a role in managing chronic pain. The most promising results from clinical studies in patients with chronic pain were reported in those suffering from fibromyalgia and musculoskeletal pain, who, after taking vitamin D supplements, saw an improvement in their symptoms.
While further exploration is needed, vitamin D for migraine prevention and relief is proving extremely promising. Here at To Better Days, we are firm believers in the power of safe, natural remedies. Our migraine recovery patches are a natural combination of vitamin D, chamomile, lavender and ginger. Perfect for the forehead, temples or neck, the almost invisible, round mini patches offer relief by shortening the length and severity of migraines and reducing recovery time. They can easily be applied directly to where you experience discomfort and work in as little as 30 minutes. Don’t just take our word for it. Give them a try yourself and see the benefits!