Migraines are the absolute worst: nausea, throbbing pain, the inability to do basically everything. If you've ever had one, you know that they can stop your entire day in its tracks.
While migraine-specific pain meds and common OTC pain relievers may help manage pain once a migraine starts, they're still not as ideal as preventing them in the first place. But that's easier said than done: The causes of migraines are still largely unclear, according to the Mayo Clinic; some possibilities include genetics, hormonal changes, and environmental triggers like food, alcohol, stress, sleep changes, sensory stimuli, etc... Can you see why their origins seem so elusive? (And if the pain wasn't enough, migraines may also increase your risk of a heart attack.)
The latest research, however, might lead us towards a more concrete answer. A new study shows that a high percentage of migraine-suffering children, teens, and young adults appear to have mild deficiencies in certain vitamins. The research, done by Suzanne Hagler, a Headache Medicine fellow at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, found a prevalence of deficiencies in vitamin D, as well as riboflavin and coenzyme Q10 (a vitamin-like substance found in every cell of the body used to produce energy for cell growth and maintenance). (P.S. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to these other weird health risks too.)
Dr. Hagler's study drew from a database of patients at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and checked for baseline blood levels of vitamin D, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10, and folate, which have all been found in different studies to play a possible role in migraines. Female patients were more likely than male patients to have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies, while male patients were more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency. Overall, it was unclear whether there were folate deficiencies in the patient group, but those with chronic migraines characterized as 15 or more headache days per month were more likely to have coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin deficiencies than those with episodic migraines (14 or fewer headache days per month)
While this may mean we're a step closer to understanding the causes behind those brutal attacks, more research needs to be done to determine if supplementation can help, said Dr. Hagler in a news release. Some of the patients in the database received supplements to deal with the deficiencies, but because they were often paired with other medication, it was impossible to determine their effect alone.
There is some good news, though: research shows that exercise can help prevent migraines. So while we're waiting on the verdict of whether vitamin supplements can help, you might as well hit the gym.