Following a diet high in magnesium may be beneficial for preventing migraine headaches. Researchers found that 50% of patients that had an acute migraine attack had low levels of ionized magnesium. Magnesium dilates blood vessels in the brain and releases certain neurotransmitters that reduce pain.
Health benefits of magnesium
Magnesium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. Magnesium is so important for our health, as it’s a cofactor in more than 300 enzymes and has a key role in many reactions in the body. For instance, magnesium is important for protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, normal heart rhythm, the structural development of bone and teeth, blood glucose control, blood pressure regulation, the synthesis of DNA and RNA, and energy production.
Most people need about 320-420 mg of magnesium a day.
Magnesium for preventing migraine headaches
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to increased risk of headaches. Researchers have found that people who experience migraine headaches have lower levels of both serum and tissue magnesium. Magnesium deficiency may cause headaches because:
- blood vessels in the brain narrow
- certain neurotransmitters in the brain that cause pain are released
Magnesium supplements to prevent headaches
Studies have shown that taking 300 mg of magnesium twice a day can prevent migraines. Moreover, the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society said that magnesium is probably effective for migraine prevention.
On the other hand, we should be very cautious with consumed doses from supplements. Excessive intake of magnesium from supplements can cause diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramping, vomiting, depression, muscle weakness, irregular heartbeat and many more.
The main reason for these side effects is the inability of the kidneys to remove excess magnesium. These side effects may happen for doses equal or higher than 5,000 mg a day. On the other hand, a daily intake of 350 mg from supplements is considered pretty safe.
Certainly, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
Foods rich in magnesium
Eating foods high in magnesium is the best way to prevent migraine headaches. Magnesium from food isn’t dangerous for our health. The kidneys can remove effectively excess amounts in the urine.
Furthermore, it’s better for preventing headaches if you have adequate amounts of magnesium in your body. Eating foods high in magnesium, when you have a headache, probably won’t relieve you.
Almonds, peanuts, spinach, cashews, whole-grain cereals, beans, even rice and potatoes are good sources of magnesium. You should eat them regularly if you’re sensitive to migraine headaches.
(mg per 100g)
(mg per 100g)
|sesame seeds||346||wheat bread||41|
|cashews||260||rice, brown, cooked||39|
|kidney beans||138||potatoes, boiled||24|
|sunflower seeds||129||Brussels sprouts||23|
Animal-derived foods, such as milk and dairy, meat, fish, and eggs contain decent amounts of magnesium as well.
Actually, the richest foods in magnesium are seeds, nuts, and legumes. So, try to consume lots of these foods to prevent migraine headaches! Additionally, a diet high in magnesium helps us lose weight.
Also, water can contribute to the daily magnesium intake!
Phytate-rich foods, like beans and tea, may inhibit magnesium absorption, though. Avoid consuming them with magnesium supplements.
Moreover, almonds are the richest plant-based food in riboflavin (vitamin B2). Riboflavin helps relief migraine pain, as it reduces inflammation of nerves.