Migraines: The role of nutrition and vitamins

Is there a special diet to fight migraines?

Although it is common knowledge that certain foods can trigger migraine flares, this does not mean that by excluding them from your diet you can be protected against the disease nor that there’s a specific diet that can actually fight the disease. This is why it is important to keep a food journal, where you can record foods, as well as other factors that may be linked to migraines, and cephalalgia (headache) occurrences. Keep in mind that the time period between the consumption of a specific food and a migraine incident ranges from a few to even 24 hours. In this way, you can identify which specific factors are, in your case, responsible for triggering these incidents. This can also be done by following an exclusion diet, which should gradually exclude one food at a time and not a whole group of foods altogether, which would make it more difficult to identify the dietary factors involved.

Foods or drinks that may trigger your migraine headaches:

Many patients report that red wine, which contains phenolic flavonoids and monoamines, and yellow cheese (rich in tyramine) are common food triggers. Less reported are dairy products.
Caffeine: Caffeine, which can be found in coffee, black tea or soft drinks like Coca Cola can also trigger migraine flares. I should note here that caffeine is a common ingredient in most migraine medicines, but it is used in specific doses. It has been observed that migraine symptoms were intensified when caffeine intake changed (abrupt increase or decrease). In particular, some patients reported migraine headaches when they limited the consumption of drinks containing caffeine, e.g. on weekends, i.e. the days they did not work

Food preservatives and additives: These are very often food triggers. Typical examples are nitrates often found in sausages, cured meat products and canned meat, in general. Monosodium glutamate, an ingredient in Asian dishes, canned soups and stock cubes, can also be the cause of migraine incidents.

Ice cream: It can trigger a migraine headache due to its low temperature, which can cause an irritation of the trigeminal nerve (the nerve responsible for sensation in the face).

Skipping meals and fasting: Unstable nutrition has been linked to migraine attacks. Skipping meals and consuming a large meal instead of small regular ones worsens the condition of patients. Dehydration has also been recorded as a cause of migraine. It is, therefore, recommended to consume lots of fluids during the day, such as water, fresh juice and herbal infusions.

Chocolate contains phenylalanine and is often a migraine trigger. However, there is scientific evidence indicating that, right before a migraine attack, some alterations of brain metabolism occur that make us crave for chocolate. So, beware! A craving for chocolate might be a signal for an upcoming migraine attack!

What is certain is that each patient is sensitive to different things and that migraine food triggers are not the same for all migraine sufferers. Only a specialist can identify them and help the patient remove them altogether from his/her diet. In general, a balanced nutrition following the principles of the Mediterranean Diet will contribute significantly to the minimization off migraine attacks. A diet rich in fresh produce and nutrients in combination with light exercise is ideal for patients that wish to take good care of themselves and stay in good health!

The role of vitamins

Many factors can trigger a migraine episode. The lack of vitamins could very well be such a trigger or could contribute to triggering a factor (e.g. weather, stress, light, etc.) that ultimately leads to a migraine flare.

Studies suggest that a high percentage of children, teens and young people who suffer from migraines have a vitamin deficiency and, in particular, deficiencies in magnesium, riboflavin (vitamin Β2), coenzyme Q10 and vitamin D. (The results were presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society in 2016).

So, if you suffer from migraines, check regularly your levels of the above vitamins, as well as of vitamin B12, iron, selenium, zinc and iodine. Consult your attending doctor about all necessary tests and supplements, and get informed by a qualified nutritionist about the way you can fight your vitamin and mineral deficiency through nutrition.

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(βιτ. Β2)
Συνένζυμο QΒιταμίνη D
Πράσινα φυλλώδη
λαχανικά (σπανάκι)
ΣπανάκιΌσπριαΛιπαρά ψάρια
(σολομός, σκουμπρί,
ΓιαούρτιΓάλαΓάλαΓάλα εμπλουτισμένο με
βιτ. D
ΚεφίρΓάλα σόγιαςΚεφίρΔημητριακά εμπλουτισμένα με βιταμίνη D
Δημητριακά ολικής
Δημητριακά ολικής
Κρόκος αυγού
ΣουσάμιΣυκώτι (μοσχαρίσιο)Συκώτι (μοσχαρίσιο)
Μαύρη σοκολάταΜαγιά