Migraines Linked to Low Levels of Vitamin D

By Pat Anson, Editor

Low levels of Vitamin D have been associated with fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and other chronic pain conditions. And new research suggests the “sunshine vitamin” may play a role in preventing migraines.

Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that a high percentage of children, teens and young adults with migraines appear to have mild deficiencies in vitamin D, riboflavin and coenzyme Q10. The latter is a vitamin-like substance found in cells that is used to produce energy for cell growth and maintenance.

"Further studies are needed to elucidate whether vitamin supplementation is effective in migraine patients in general, and whether patients with mild deficiency are more likely to benefit from supplementation," says Suzanne Hagler, MD, a Headache Medicine fellow in the division of Neurology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. She presented her findings at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society in San Diego.

Hagler studied a database of patients with migraines who had their blood levels checked for vitamin D, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and folate, all of which have been linked to migraines in previous and sometimes conflicting studies.

Many of the patients were put on migraine medications and received vitamin supplementation, if their blood levels were low. Because few received vitamins alone, the researchers were unable to determine if vitamin supplements by themselves were effective in preventing migraines.

Hagler found that girls and young woman were more likely than boys and young men to have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies. Boys and young men were more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. Patients with chronic migraines were more likely to have coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin deficiencies than those with episodic migraines.

Vitamin D helps control levels of calcium and phosphate in the blood and is essential for the formation of strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D also modulates cell growth, improves neuromuscular and immune function, and reduces inflammation

Sources of Vitamin D include oily fish and eggs, but it can be difficult to get enough through diet alone. Ultraviolet rays in sunlight are a principal source of Vitamin D for most people.

Danish researchers found that exposure to sunlight may delay the onset of multiple sclerosis (MS). Patients who spent time in the sun every day during the summer as teenagers developed the disease later in life than those who spent their summers indoors.

Low levels of serum vitamin D were found in over 1,800 fibromyalgia patients in a recent meta-analysis (a study of studies) published in the journal Pain Physician. Researchers at National Taiwan University Hospital found a “positive crude association” between chronic widespread pain and hypovitaminosis D.

Pain News Network columnist Crystal Lindell began taking Vitamin D supplements when her blood levels were found to be very low. Within a few months she was feeling better, exercising more, and losing weight. You can read Crystal’s story by clicking here.