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Family Medicine

Top 5 nutrients to manage your migraines

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Advanced Integrative Wellness

Woman with head in hands, eyes closed, pain from migraine headache.

Migraines are painful and debilitating. June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, so we’re exploring nutritional approaches to managing this neurological disorder that affects about 12% of Americans.

Medications can alleviate symptoms and help prevent migraines, but most people with migraines do best when they combine medications with nonpharmacologic approaches, including diet and lifestyle changes. Advanced Integrative Wellness, located in the Kenwood area of Cincinnati, can help determine what works for you.

What are migraines?

Migraines are recurring headaches characterized by throbbing or pulsing pain that can be severe. The pain is usually on one side of the head and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light and noise.

Scientists think migraines are caused by inflammatory brain activity involving nerves, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. These processes are set in motion by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.

The link between diet & migraines

Diet is often blamed for migraines, as many foods and beverages seem to trigger attacks for some sufferers. These include:

  • Cured or processed meats (bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats)
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Aged cheeses
  • Some fruits and nuts
  • Fermented or pickled foods
  • Yeast
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Caffeine (too much or suddenly cutting down)

While foods can trigger migraines, nutrition is also a key to managing them. Researchers are studying the use of specific diets and nutrients to help prevent migraines.

Nutrients for migraine prevention

While a healthy diet with lots of vegetables and fewer processed foods sets the body up to fight inflammatory conditions like migraines, specific nutrients have been studied for their effect on migraines. As most things are when it comes to nutrition, research isn’t always clear and scientists don’t agree on everything.

That being said, the most promising nutrients for migraine prevention are:

  • Magnesium
  • Vitamin D
  • Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
  • Vitamin B2 (also called riboflavin)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Magnesium & migraines

Studies show that migraine sufferers have less magnesium in their blood and tissues.

Taking 400 mg of magnesium per day may increase magnesium levels and help prevent migraines. Experts note that it takes time for the magnesium to work, so try it for at least three months. 

Another option for magnesium is Epsom Salt Cream by Kirkman. Advanced Integrative Wellness owner Jodi Westfall, a functional medicine nurse practitioner, recommends applying this cream topically to the forehead, neck, and shoulders. 

Magnesium supplements may cause nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. They can also interfere with antibiotics.

Variety of creams and lotions.

Vitamin D & migraines

Bottles of vitamins.

People who have migraines are often deficient in vitamin D. A simple blood test can tell you if you need supplemental vitamin D.

Research shows that 1000­–4000 IU of vitamin D per day may help prevent migraines. Jodi’s favorite way to get supplemental vitamin D supplements is to take ADK by DaVinci; however, this is not safe to take during pregnancy. It’s a good idea to have your vitamin D checked regularly. 

CoQ10 & migraines

Experts recommend 300 mg of CoQ10 per day to prevent migraines. Jodi’s CoQ10 go-to is ubiquinol, the more bio-active form of CoQ10. A favorite product at Advanced Integrative Wellness is the 100 mg Ubiquinol from Protocol for Life Balance.

For some people, CoQ10 supplements may cause nausea or an upset stomach. Taking more than the recommended daily dose may harm the liver. CoQ10 supplements may also interfere with blood thinners, so always consult your healthcare professional before taking it if you are on a blood thinner such as coumadin.

Vitamin B2 & migraines

A supplement of 400mg of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) per day is thought to help prevent migraines. Check with your healthcare provider before taking B2 if you’re on antibiotics, but the only other side effect is orange-colored urine.

Jodi’s recommendation for vitamin B2 supplementation is the 400 mg Riboflavin by Integrative Therapeutics.

Omega-3s & migraines

Researchers recently reviewed studies comparing omega-3 fatty acid supplements with migraine medications, finding that at least 1500 mg of omega-3s worked just as well or better in preventing or reducing the intensity of migraines. Jodi’s omega-3 fish oil supplement of choice is Orthomega by Orthomolecular.

Studies also show that a diet with more omega-3s may help with migraines, especially when sources of omega-3 fatty acids replace another type of fat, omega-6 fatty acids.

Salmon, shrimp, nuts, seeds, and omega 3 fatty acid supplements.

Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel. You can also get omega-3s from plant foods like flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and black walnuts.

While omega-6 fats are essential to the body, we generally eat more of them than we need, because they’re found in vegetable oils that are commonly in processed foods. Canola, sunflower, and soybean oil, as well as mayonnaise, are rich in omega-6s.

Eating at least eight ounces of seafood per week and cutting down on processed foods and vegetable oils should ensure that you get plenty of omega-3s.

Lifestyle changes to prevent migraines

In addition to trying dietary supplements and avoiding food triggers, people with migraines often find relief by staying hydrated, not skipping meals, and managing stress with things like regular exercise, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback.

Adequate, quality sleep is vital to managing migraines. Many people credit craniosacral therapy for reducing the frequency of migraines. Hormone therapy may also help many women who suffer.

Another option is the gammaCore Saffire device, which AIW rents out to clients. This is a drug-free, non-invasive device to treat and prevent migraine and cluster headache pain by stimulating the vagus nerve. 


With so many variables, figuring out how to manage your migraines may seem overwhelming. Advanced Integrative Wellness can help – call 513-614-4301 today to schedule an appointment in our Kenwood, Cincinnati, Ohio office!

The information provided on this blog is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Reliance on any information provided by this blog is solely at your own risk. The authors and administrators of this blog are not liable for any errors or omissions in the content or for any outcomes resulting from the use of the information provided herein.

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