Do you constantly deal with migraines? If so, a recent study suggests that higher levels of vitamin D may be able to help. Migraines are no joke. These severe headaches affect about 14% of adults, with women more likely to experience them than men. They are extremely painful and can also be disabling, ranking among the top 3 causes of years lived with a disability among people aged 15-49.
So what can be done to reduce the risk of migraines? Some research has suggested that vitamin D may play a role. Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that helps our bodies absorb calcium and promotes bone health. It is produced when our skin is exposed to sunlight and can also be found in certain foods such as fortified dairy products and fatty fish.
A Mendelian randomization study(1) aimed to examine whether vitamin D levels affect migraine risk. The study included more than 1.3 million people without migraines and 88,363 people with migraines. The researchers found that each of the standard deviations increases vitamin D levels, reducing the odds of having migraines by about 8%.
Could taking vitamin D supplements to help reduce the frequency, duration, or severity of migraines in people who already have migraines? It needs to be clarified. Although several randomized controlled trials have looked at the effect of vitamin D supplementation on migraines, the results have been mixed. Some studies have found that vitamin D supplements can help reduce the number of migraine attacks to a small extent. It is still being determined whether there is a reduction in the duration or severity of attacks.
What is the optimal vitamin D dose?
What is the optimal vitamin D dose to help reduce the risk of migraines? Unfortunately, the study did not report this fact. However, based on previous research, a one standard deviation increase in vitamin D levels might be about 20 nmol/L or 8 ng/mL. This is comparable to supplementation with an additional 400 IU of vitamin D daily. However, many factors, such as baseline vitamin D levels and body fat, may affect the magnitude of the increase caused by vitamin D supplementation.
While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between vitamin D and migraines, this study optimistically suggests that higher vitamin D levels may be associated with a reduced risk of migraines. Suppose you are interested in taking vitamin D supplements to help reduce your risk of migraines. In that case, you must first talk to your healthcare provider to determine the correct dose.
Niu PP, Wang X, Xu YM. Higher Circulating Vitamin D Levels Are Associated With Decreased Migraine Risk: A Mendelian Randomization Study. Front Nutr. 2022 Jul 8;9:907789. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.907789. PMID: 36159496; PMCID: PMC9505695.