People who suffer from severe headaches time and again know how painful they can be. Not only that, headaches can come with several other discomforts like dizziness, nausea, blurry vision, etc.
Headaches are of different kinds. Some are related to stress and tension, migraine, poor posture, skipped meals, lack of sleep, and even vitamin deficiency.
Treating a short-lived or severe headache can go beyond prescription drugs. Headache medications can be a quick fix for migraine headaches or cough headaches but there’s a lot you can do to find long-term relief.
Researchers have found that several vitamins and other nutrients have an impact on chronic headaches like migraine attacks. Taking the right vitamin supplements can reduce the intensity and frequency of headaches.
Are frequent headaches muddling your days and upsetting all your plans? Before grabbing an over-the-counter remedy, know how different vitamins and dietary supplements can help to soothe, reduce, and put an end to notorious headaches.
Vitamins Tension Headaches
Tension headaches are common. They can be short-lived or can continue for days. Tension headaches are characterized by throbbing sensations not only at the top, front, and sides of the head but also neck and muscles around the shoulder blades.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, stress is a migraine trigger for about 70% of migraine patients. Thus, stress headaches and migraine may often be confused with each other.
The main difference between tension headaches and migraine headaches is, these kinds of headaches do not cause photosensitivity or vision and balance.
Migraines are quite common among people of all ages, most prevalent among teenagers and people in their mid-30s to mid-40s. The American Academy of Neurology has established guidelines and recommendations for the prevention and treatment of migraine.
In case of doubt, it is always better to consult a headache specialist to determine the root cause of frequent headaches.
Stress headaches are caused by the stress hormone cortisol. Other than that, vitamin deficiency, hormonal imbalance, magnesium deficiency, poor diet, and sleep deprivation, may also contribute to such headaches.
Magnesium is a crucial mineral required by the body to function properly. This mineral plays an important role in bone health, nerve function, and heart health.
It can hold the key to minimizing tension headaches. Studies show that magnesium supplements work well in managing tension headaches among frequent sufferers. Magnesium is also one of the main minerals that help muscles and nerves relax.
Daily doses of magnesium intake may differ according to the age and health condition of individuals but the general recommended dose is about 400 to 500 mg of magnesium per day. The right dosage for an individual is best recommended by a healthcare provider.
As magnesium is a natural element without any added chemical substances, it is a safe tension headache treatment. When compared to over-the-counter headache medications with potential side effects, taking the recommended dose of magnesium is safer.
What is the Best Thing to Take For a Tension Headache?
Tense muscles are a trigger for tension-type headaches. Medicines may help relieve the pain but they can cause adverse side effects.
Healthy lifestyle choices and diet can result in a significant reduction of frequent headaches.
Taking magnesium supplements and including magnesium-rich foods in the diet can help in migraine prevention as well as curbing tension headaches.
Some foods that naturally contain magnesium are –
- Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens,
- Pumpkin or squash seeds
- Almonds, cashew, peanuts
- Legumes, lentils
- Fiber-rich whole grains
- Mackerel, tuna, halibut, salmon
- Low-fat dairy products like yogurt or kefir
- Dark chocolate
Including magnesium-dense foods in the diet along with lifestyle changes like exercising, maintaining a meal cycle, quitting smoking, and drinking enough water can be helpful in headache prevention. Research has shown various dietary supplements provide promising results in managing different types of headaches.
What Vitamins Trigger Headaches?
Vitamins are usually taken for preventing headaches but when taken in excess, some vitamins can trigger headaches.
Some people may experience certain side effects, while others may face none at all. Some reports say multivitamins may also cause side effects like headaches, upset stomach, and in severe cases allergies and hives.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and the excess amount gets stored in the body. Vitamin A from natural food sources does not seem to cause any problems.
However, excess amounts of the pre-formed version of the vitamin supplement are known to result in headaches, nausea, and dizziness, in some cases. Some good natural sources of vitamin A are
- Orange and yellow vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, red bell pepper
- Yellow fruits like mango, apricot, papaya, cantaloupe
- Beef and lamb liver
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, plays an important role in maintaining healthy skin, and bones, protecting cells, healing wounds, boosting antioxidant levels, and other things. It is probably the first vitamin people reach for when affected by cough, cold, and flu.
However, taking megadoses of vitamin C can trigger headaches. Although it is a water-soluble vitamin, the unabsorbed vitamin remains in the intestinal tract causing other problems like stomach cramps, diarrhea, and nausea.
The National Institutes of Health recommends taking vitamin C 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg/day for women. More than 2,000 mg/day is considered the upper tolerable limit, beyond which undesirable effects can be experienced.
Natural Supplements for Headaches
The best supplements for headaches are
- Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin
- Vitamin D
- Coenzyme Q10 or coQ10
Eating foods rich in these vitamins and minerals is the best way to provide the body with these essential nutrients.
In case this term is new to you, Coenzyme Q10 or coQ10 is a naturally occurring nutrient in the body that also acts as an antioxidant. It is a preventive treatment for migraine headaches. CoQ10 is found in foods like fatty fish, organ meat, soybean, nuts and seeds, and vegetables.
Clinical trials found when migraine patients were treated with CoQ10 and a placebo in a double-blind experiment, CoQ10 was superior compared to the placebo group for migraine symptoms and migraine frequency.
Other than these some natural supplements that help in reducing the frequency of migraine attacks are
- Lavender oil (Inhaling)
- Menthol/Peppermint oil (Application on neck and forehead)
Migraine Vitamin Cocktail
A migraine cocktail is a combination of migraine medications that can be used for treating migraine patients. The medications are not the same for everyone and depend on various medical conditions or previous responses to migraine treatments.
A migraine cocktail usually consists of these medications in different combinations and doses depending on the severity of migraine pain and other medical conditions.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
- Ergot alkaloids
- IV steroids
- IV fluids
- IV magnesium
- IV valproic acid
These typically include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antiemetics. Migraine cocktails are available as OTC medications too.
A migraine vitamin cocktail would be the essential vitamins and minerals that are effectively used for treating migraine pain. They are vitamin B2, vitamin D, magnesium, coenzyme Q 10, and melatonin.
Can I Make a Migraine Cocktail at Home?
It is possible to make a migraine cocktail at home as it is a medley of medications.
The American Headache Society and the FDA considers a combination of aspirin, acetaminophen, and caffeine in certain dosage d safe and effective treatment for migraine.
- 250 mg of aspirin
- 250 mg of acetaminophen
- 65 mg of caffeine
Is it safe to take an over-the-counter migraine cocktail? That depends on the age, allergies, and other health conditions of the patient.
Vitamins For Headaches And Dizziness
Several vitamins and minerals are known to be beneficial for headaches and dizziness that develop from migraine, cluster headaches, and stress headaches.
The most beneficial migraine-reducing vitamins are vitamin E, folic acid, and B vitamins like vitamins B2, B6, B9, and B12.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Migraines?
Vitamin d deficiency can cause headaches. Even if you are taking vitamin D supplements, certain medications may interfere with vitamin D, potentially causing vitamin D levels to go down.
When vitamin D levels fall below normal and become the reason for headaches, a doctor should be consulted to check if any medication is meddling with the vitamin d supplementation.
Tension headache supplements
Some of the common vitamins and natural supplements used for treating tension headaches are magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D, ginger root, coriander seed, celery, butterbur, and feverfew.
Best Vitamin B2 For Migraines
Vitamin B is one of the most beneficial vitamins when it comes to headaches. The reasons behind the development of migraine attacks are unknown. However, some of the B vitamins like vitamins B2, B6, B9, and B12 can help reduce migraine pain and the frequency of migraine attacks.
What is the Best Form of Vitamin B2?
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin occurs naturally in many food items. Even the bacteria present in the gut produce tiny amounts of riboflavin. However, that is not sufficient to meet dietary needs.
The best form of vitamin B2 is the one derived from natural food sources like dairy products, eggs, lean beef and pork, chicken breast, salmon, almond, spinach, etc.
FAQ Relating to Vitamins and Headaches
What Aitamins Are Good For Headaches?
Several vitamins help control the intensity and recurring occurrences of headaches. Some vitamins play a more important role than others.
B vitamins like Vitamin B2, B6, B9, B12, vitamin D, folic acid, and vitamin E play a significant role in preventing different types of headaches.
What Vitamin Deficiency Causes Headaches?
Vitamin deficiency and headaches may be related to some migraine patients. Lower levels of vitamin B2, vitamin D, magnesium, and folic acid, may lead to headaches.
Vitamin supplements and a nutrient-rich diet can play a major role in keeping headaches at bay.
What Gets Rid of a Headache Fast?
All headaches are not the same. Their causes and intensity may make them quite a nuisance.
However, few things usually seem to work well in getting rid of a headache quickly.
- Cold pack/cold compress
- Hydrate (drink water)
- Relaxing dim lights
- Ease any pressure on the scalp
- Take some magnesium
- Try essential oils
- Limit alcohol intake
- Try B-complex vitamin
- Over the counter headache-relief medicines
Can Headaches Be Vitamin Deficiency?
Yes, headaches can stem from vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Having low levels of vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium, and sodium can cause migraines and other headaches. Additionally, dehydration can also cause headaches.