While we just discussed several vitamins and supplements that have been linked to improving migraine, I wanted to talk to you today about two of my very favorite vitamins, Vitamin D and Vitamin C. These little vitamins have been linked to so many health benefits in your body that they are too numerous to discuss here in entirety. But Vitamin D specifically has also been linked with improved migraine health as well.
Vitamin D has previously been widely known for its association with the skeletal system by regulating calcium levels in your body and contributing to strong bones. However, more and more research has been showing the vast array of vitamin D benefits on the body. In fact, vitamin D acts as a hormone that controls over 200 genes in the body. And up to half of the population is deficient in this vitamin.
Established functions of vitamin D include anti inflammatory properties, immune support, neuromuscular system involvement and is a potent antioxidant. It also has been demonstrated to have antiviral properties and has been shown in studies to reduce illness with the flu and other respiratory viruses. A recent study even showed a 50% reduction in coronavirus symptoms with addition of vitamin D. Decreased levels have been linked to autoimmune disorders, multiple cancers such as bowel cancer and migraines. You can see that this little vitamin is super important.
Many studies have been done looking at migraine disorders and vitamin D. The main conclusion that was drawn is that most migraine sufferers tend to be low in this vitamin. Many headache specialists will recommend keeping vitamin D levels even higher that non migraine sufferers at around 40ng/ml as measured in the blood. The mechanism through which it helps migraines is likely through its anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties which contribute to overall decreased brain inflammation and improved vascular health.
The easiest way to get Vitamin D is by sun exposure on your skin. There are a variety of factors that contribute to vitamin D deficiencies, especially in westernized societies, that mainly involve spending less time in the sun. People who work in doors, use sunscreen, live in big cities where tall buildings and pollution block sunlight, dietary factors and people with darker skin will have less vitamin D production. So most people will require or benefit from a vitamin D supplement.
Few foods contain vitamin D naturally which include salmon, sardines, egg yolks and shrimp. Many other foods are fortified with vitamin D which include most cereals and orange juice. But typically if you want to increase your vitamin D levels you will need to take a supplement. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. This means that unlike other vitamins, like vitamin C which are water soluble, it will accumulate in your tissue and can elevate to unsafe levels. It is best to have your doctor order a blood test to see what your levels are before you begin on a long term regimen of supplementation. But, many studies have demonstrated that almost everyone can take 5000 IU per day safely.
This is my other favorite supplement. This vitamin has been extensively studied for almost 100 years and has been shown to be invaluable to immune health. It is a very powerful antioxidant and has anti cancer and antiviral properties. Although vitamin C is not typically associated with migraine prevention, some studies show a potential improvement in overall migraine health due to its potent anti oxidant properties. And frankly, this vitamin is so essential that I started taking it years ago even without understanding any migraine benefits it may confer.
Research is still ongoing into why exactly migraines occur and they likely occur through many different mechanisms. But there is good evidence that one of the factors is related to oxidative stress. It is believed that oxidative stress plays a role in the pathogenesis of migraine through regulation of cerebral blood flow. And that oxidative stress leads to Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which are implicated in pain. Therefore, it is thought that taking antioxidants like vitamin C, which scavenge free radicals like ROS improves the migraine pathway. This is similar to the rational for taking coq10 for migraine prevention.
Vitamin C is abundant in many foods including oranges, green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, cabbage, potatoes and tomatoes. But it is very difficult to get as much as you need through diet alone, so supplementation is usually needed. 1000mg per day is a good starting dose for most people and this can be increased to very high doses when sick. I use the powdered form of ascorbic acid to sneak it into my kids drinks and foods to give them a little immune boost as well. Nutribiotic – Ascorbic Acid Crystalline Powder 100% Pure Vitamin C 2500 mg. – 2.2 lbs. It is completely pure without other additives and so easy to put into drinks.
Vitamin C can be taken in extremely high doses as it is water soluble and will not accumulate in your body. While mainstream medicine is still coming around to the idea of vitamin supplementation for health, there is extensive research into the wonders of vitamin C taken both orally and by IV. Doctors have been using this vitamin to treat cancer, flu, coronavirus and a host of other autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. In fact, high dose vitamin C is being offered via IV by more and more doctors. If you live in the southern California area and are interested in trying out the health benefits of IV vitamin C, check out my website at DrCamilleMD.com for more information and to schedule an appointment.
To your health,
Dr. Camille, MD
The Migraine Doctor