It seems like such a simple answer, but it’s what researchers suggested when they presented their data to the the 58th Annual Scientific of the American Headache Society. They have proposed that vitamin supplements might be the secret to preventing and treating migraines.
Vitamin Deficiencies in Migraineurs
To support their theory, researchers drew from nutrient measurements taken from the blood of young adults, teens, and children seeking treatment for headaches. Researchers looked at four key nutrients: vitamin D, riboflavin (vitamin B-2), folate (B-9), and CoQ10, an antioxidant that is vital to cell function.
Researchers found that nutrient deficiencies were common for those with migraines. Deficiencies were found in all four vitamins tested. Low vitamin D was recorded for more than two-thirds of those tested (68%). About 15% of teens had riboflavin levels below the recommended, and 40% were at levels where doctors recommend supplementation. Nearly two-thirds (64%) tested low for folate, and 30% tested below the lower reference limit for CoQ10.
Although these may seem like promising connections, there are many reasons why we wouldn’t want to take this research too seriously yet.
Most importantly, we have to remember that this study hasn’t passed peer review yet. When research has just been presented at a scientific conference, it is really nothing more than an interesting observation. It is assumed the data collection is reasonably reliable, and that some basic analysis has been performed.
However, there are many potential errors that may exist in the research. For example, we don’t know in this study whether the low vitamin levels are statistically significant. We’re also not sure that researchers didn’t select a population that might be expected to have low nutrient levels.
For this reason, we need to wait before we put too much faith in these results.
Deviations Not That Extreme
We also need to remember that although the above levels of nutrient shortage sound significant on their own, they have to be taken into context with the general existence of low nutrient levels in the overall population. Various studies have indicated that the 40% low riboflavin levels cited in this study are likely comparable to the population at large.
And for vitamin D, the levels may be likely below the national average. Some research suggests that up to 77% of Americans have low vitamin D levels, so it shouldn’t seem significant that 68% of people with headaches were found to have low vitamin D.
Previous Research Disputes Vitamin Ties
Most importantly, we need to remember that this is not the first time researchers have looked at vitamin levels as a possible cause or contributor to migraines. There’s been enough research done on vitamin D for people to conclude that there is no link between the nutrient and migraines. There is little support for other nutrients cited in this stud, as well.
Overall, this leads us to conclude that vitamin deficiency can’t be a major contributor to migraines for many people.
One Part of a Complex Puzzle
All of this is not to say that vitamins don’t have a role to play in your migraines. In fact, migraines are a complex condition that likely have many contributing factors–possibly including nutrient deficiencies–all of which should be used to try to ease the burden of migraines.
One important contributing cause that many people overlook is temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ), which can cause muscle tension and nerve pressure that contribute to the frequency and intensity of migraines. TMJ treatment can help many people who aren’t getting good results from their current migraine therapy.