If you look at the shelves of your local vitamin store, or if you google “migraine vitamins” you will be inundated with dozens of options that brand themselves as “great for migraine.” If you are interested in starting to supplement vitamins to help your migraines, it can be overwhelming to figure out where you should start. Here's a quick and helpful guide.
These supplements are well-studied, and are generally seen as the most safe and effective for migraine prevention:
- Magnesium is one of the best studied supplements, and is often used acutely to help migraine, in addition to being helpful for prevention as a daily supplement. There are a number of magnesium subtype - magnesium sulfate is often used intravenously when migraine is very severe, and magnesium oxide has the best data for migraine prevention. Other magnesium subtypes may have better bioavailability and absorption, but most headache specialists recommend the oxide subtype due to the better data we have for it in the migraine literature. Magnesium Oxide is best taken at 500mg daily.
- Riboflavin/B2 is also well-studied for migraine prevention, and is found in many combination supplements, including “B-Complex” pills. Riboflavin is most effective when supplementing at 400mg daily.
- Co-Enzyme Q10 is a common supplement for “heart health”, but it has also been well studied for migraine prevention. The recommended dose is higher than it is for most cardiac indications. It is most effective at 100-300mg daily.
- Melatonin is the neurotransmitter that the brain uses to put itself to sleep every night. Insomnia can be a trigger for migraine, and melatonin can be a natural remedy to help get your sleep back on track. Studies in children and teenagers have shown that melatonin is particularly effective in this age group. The dose recommended is typically 1-5mg nightly.
Other supplements may be effective, although there are some potential drawbacks to consider:
- Butterber/PetaDolex is a supplement that can be very effective for migraine prevention, but recently has been more associated with liver toxicity. Many combination “migraine vitamin supplements” contain butterber, and the most updated guidelines recommend getting liver function blood tests every few months for people who take butterber. The dose is 50-75mg twice daily.
- Feverfew is also commonly found in combination “migraine vitamin supplements”. Although it has not been associated with significant side effects or toxicities, it is lacking good data that it improves migraine frequency or severity. Most headache specialists don’t feel strongly enough to recommend feverfew for migraine prevention.
Finally, for non-migraine headache disorders, this could be a good option:
- Boswellia, also known as Indian Frankincense, is a supplement that has anti-inflammatory properties and is well-studied in a number of headache disorders. It has not been shown to be very effective for migraine, but might be recommended for certain rare headache disorders such as hemicrania continua, paroxysmal hemicrania or primary stabbing headache. The recommended dose is 400-800mg twice daily.
The market for health supplements and vitamins is a fast-growing market that can be hard to navigate without the help of a knowledgeable and trustworthy person who understands the efficacy. If you're interested in talking with a board-certified neurologist specializing in headache and migraine, you can do so via the Neura Health app, from the comfort of your own home. Get started today!