Migraine Prevention: Vitamin D3
Vitamin D3 reduces oxidative stress. Migraines are associated with oxidative stress. Vitamin D3 is also needed for survival.
Eight reasons why vitamin D prevents migraines:
1. According to a 2016 study, a high percentage of migraine sufferers have a vitamin D deficiency (study link).
2. Vitamin D deficiency has been found in 41.8 percent of chronic migraineurs.
The longer they have migraines, the more likely they are to be deficient (Medscape).
3. Vitamin D is needed to produce serotonin (study link). Low levels of serotonin have been observed in migraine sufferers and medications that increase serotonin are successful in reducing CGRP and migraines (study link).
CGRP is implicated in triggering migraines and the next generation migraine drug blocks CGRP (study link).
We want vitamin D to increase serotonin, so that we can decrease CGRP and migraines.
7. In a study of over 10,000 patients, low vitamin D levels nearly tripled the risk of death from cardiovascular accidents (study link).
Cardiovascular events are 50 percent more likely in female migraine sufferers (study link).
8. Low vitamin D increases your risk of dying from severe infection or surgery (study link).
A strong immune system is critical for migraine sufferers (study link).
Vitamin D is necessary for migraine prevention, however, some vitamin D research is conflicting:
1. A 2014 study found that 80 percent of migraineurs were either deficient or had insufficient vitamin D levels.
However, healthy controls were also found to have deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D and no association between vitamin D levels and migraine was found. (study link).
2. A 2013 study found that high levels of vitamin D was actually related to a higher headache frequency.
However, vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency was found in 81 percent of migraine patients (study link). These conflicting results need further evaluation.
Vitamin D is hard to evaluate in migraine sufferers because, according to a study of more than 10,000 people published in JAMA, most people are deficient in vitamin D.
The study found that 77 percent of people were vitamin D deficient (study link).
Until there are placebo-controlled trials of vitamin D3 and migraines, we won’t know for sure how vitamin D3 benefits migraines. However, it’s clear that a vitamin D3 deficiency is associated with oxidative stress, which will increase the probability of migraine.
You may need more vitamin D than you thought:
Your doctor may have told you that your vitamin D blood levels need to be over 30 ng/ml. Experts are now saying we need at least 40 to 50 ng/ml to be healthy (study link).
In one study, the risk of death for people with up to 44 ng/ml of vitamin D was cut in half compared to those with low levels of vitamin D (study link)
A 2007 study found that women who were given enough vitamin D to bring their levels up to 40 ng/ml experienced a 77 percent reduction in all forms of cancer (study link).
Cancer is closely linked to oxidative stress—the largest migraine trigger (study link).
Many doctors prescribe a cheap synthetic version of vitamin D called vitamin D2.
A study from 2011 of over 90,000 people found that the risk of death was three times greater with vitamin D2 when compared to using vitamin D3 (study link).
Vitamin D3 is the natural vitamin D that your body produces. You want vitamin D3.
Where to get vitamin D3:
The best place to get vitamin D3 is still from exposure to the sun. Human skin supplies about 90 percent of the vitamin D in the body from exposure to the sun (study link).
Sunscreen blocks 99 percent of vitamin D synthesis, but you also shouldn’t get so much exposure that you burn (WebMd).
Vitamin D3 from food:
Vitamin D3 is found in tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines, fish oil, eggs, and fortified milk.
However, eggs and milk are common migraine triggers. Many processed foods contain vitamin D, but won’t raise vitamin D3 levels in the blood without fats and other nutrients (research link).
Vitamin D is fat soluble, so you need healthy fats to synthesize it. Again, vitamin D from food only supplies about 10 percent of the vitamin D in your blood. Get sunshine.
If you choose a vitamin D3 supplement, ensure it is a trustworthy brand. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA and many supplements are fake (NYT article).
Vitamin D3 is necessary for reducing oxidative stress and preventing migraines. It also reduces your risk of death. However, more research is needed to identify how vitamin D3 supplementation affects migraines.