Guest article by Sam Hadadi,
If you suffer from regular, crippling migraines (and, trust us, you have our sympathies!), then you may want to hop on a plane ready to sip on sangria and soak up the sun, pronto.
For years, migraine sufferers have been given lists of causes as long as their arms. From hormones to stress, poor diet and lack of sleep, there are heaps of things which have been linked to triggering the pain of migraines.
Yet now, a new US-based study has revealed that huge numbers of kids and young adults who suffer with migraines have mild deficiencies in the so-called “sunshine vitamin”, or vitamin D. Many of the children also have deficiencies in riboflavin, a B vitamin which is crucial for body growth, and coenzyme Q10, which is found in every single cell in our body for growth and energy.
What does this mean for you and I, or fellow migraine sufferers? Well, the researchers behind this study are fairly convinced that vitamin problems could play a huge role in how often we suffer with migraines.
They’re now calling for others to get their thinking caps on to see whether a simple vitamin supplement could be used to treat migraines in the future.
During the study, lead author Dr Suzanne Hagler worked with a team of researchers to look at a huge database of young patients with migraines from the Headache Center. Throughout the research, each patient had their blood levels checked for vitamin D, riboflavin, coenzyme Q10 and folate, all of which have been linked to migraines in previous studies.
Many of the patients were then given preventive migraine medications and vitamin supplementation, if their vitamin levels were low. However, since very few patients received vitamin pills alone, the researchers were unable to determine whether or not vitamins played a major role in recovery.
However, what they did discover was that the females of the group were more likely than boys and young men to have coenzyme Q10 deficiencies. On the flipside, boys and young men were more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies.
Meanwhile, there was a positive link between those who suffered from chronic migraines and both coenzyme Q10 and riboflavin deficiencies.
As a result, lead author Suzanne Hagler has called for scientists to pave the way for further studies into how vitamin supplements could benefit migraine patients.
While migraines can be (quite literally) a pain in the neck and even debilitating for anyone suffering with them, there’s plenty you can do to help ease symptoms and to keep them at bay, without always stretching for the pills.
Here’s some of our Lucy Bee tips on treating and preventing migraines:
When a migraine threatens to strike, try scaling back and relaxing as much as possible. It could also help to turn off the lights, shut the curtains, apply heat compresses and drink some caffeine (small doses of caffeine have been found to ease migraine pain, as well as boosting the effects of certain pain-killers).
If you suffer with frequent, painful migraines, then getting plenty of quality sleep can help to prevent them. If you struggle to get your eight hours, then try unwinding at the end of the day – take a long, hot soak in the tub, listen to some classical music, read a beloved book, or simply pamper and spoil yourself!
As with many illnesses and conditions, what you eat can affect your health in many different ways. Sufferers of migraines should eat regular meals, keep a food diary (certain foods can trigger headaches), and eat at the same time each and every day. It may also be worthwhile checking if a food intolerance, such as lactose, is the cause of your migraines.
While exercise is probably the last thing on your mind when a migraine attack strikes, it can work wonders for the pain. You see, when you work out, your body releases special chemicals that block pain signals from travelling to the brain. If you do fancy giving it a go, then start slowly at first – too much vigorous exercise is also a risk factor for migraines!
We know, we know! Taking time out to de-stress isn’t always that easy, especially when you consider how frazzled most of our lives have become. However, if your stress levels are high, then chances are you’re more likely to suffer an attack. If stress is an issue (and even if it isn’t!), then consider setting aside ten minutes a day to meditate or practice mindfulness, take regular breaks from work – even if it’s just a short walk – and make sure you do something every day which you enjoy and love.
One of our favourite minerals, magnesium1, has also been found to help ease migraines, so if you’re a sufferer, then it may be worth upping your dosage of this natural wonder.
Good luck, sufferers! Keep us posted and tweet us @lucybeecoconut if you have any tips and advice on coping with migraines.
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Sam Hadadi is an ex-BBC journalist and now a freelance writer specialising in fitness and food.