If you are a regular visitor you will know that I consider Vitamin D to be one of the most essential nutrients for our health. More and more research is identifying new health conditions that improve with an increase in Vitamin D through absorption of our skin (Sunshine Vitamin) or in diet in combination with supplementation.
This article appeared last week which would suggest that migraine sufferers could decrease the number of attacks by supplementing with the vitamin.
Taking a daily vitamin D supplement could cut the number of migraine attacks dramatically, according to the results of a new trial.
Vitamin D is dubbed ‘the sunshine vitamin’ because it is produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight.
The treatment nearly halved the attacks patients suffered during a six-month trial — with those taking the daily supplement (and no other medication) going from having migraines more than six days a month to just three.
The ‘sunshine’ pill is thought to work by combatting inflammation in the tiny blood vessels in the brain that can play a part in the painful episodes.
Some studies suggest it keeps the endothelium — the layer of cells that coats the inside of all blood vessels — smooth and pliable, allowing blood to flow easily.
Migraine affects around one person in ten in the UK.
Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, can help mild attacks. In more severe cases, patients are prescribed triptans, which work by restoring the chemical balance in the brain that is disrupted by migraines.
You can read the rest of the article here: Daily Mail: Vitamin D and Migraines
What are migraines?
Most of us have experienced a headache for one reason or another. From eyestrain to too much red wine the night before. But those who suffer from migraines experience a much more painful and importantly, regular form of headaches that can be life-limiting.
These are beyond the usual nagging headache that is due to dehydration and can be eased with a large glass of water. Or some deep breaths of fresh air.
Women tend to get migraines more than men, which points to a hormonal imbalance, particularly at certain times of the month, during ovulation or PMS. This is why keeping a diary is important to identify the pattern, which helps when finding something to ease the symptoms.
There may be a family history of the condition and researchers do tend towards a genetic connection, especially if you are woman, or if there is a brain injury or mental condition such as epilepsy.
There are a number of triggers apart from hormonal changes and include stress, persistent loud noise, insomnia, dehydration or lack of food (most migraines begin first thing in the morning), medication side-effects and food intolerances. Suspect ingredients such as MSG (Monosodium glutamate) nut allergies, processed meats and unfortunately chocolate.
The phases of a migraine.
There are four stages to a migraine and in the early instances, they might be dismissed but if recognised it can help in minimising the pain levels earlier. Not everyone who suffers migraines experiences the full range of phases, but it is also likely that because the first phase starts up to 24 hours before the actual headache, they are not connected.
This is also because this first phase (Prodome) symptoms mirror PMS and include mood swings, fluid retention, cravings and increased urination.
The next phase (Aura) immediately before the pain begins or in the early stages, is a slightly out of this world feeling, perhaps double vision, flashing lights, feeling of extreme fatigue and a sensitivity to touch.
The actual stage of the (migraine) is a slowly increasing pain until it becomes unbearable and lying still in a dark room is the most comfortable place to be. Sometimes even the act of sneezing or coughing can increase the severity of the attack.
In some sufferers there is no pain but increased sensitivity to your surroundings, touch, light,noise and smells and you feel that your senses are overloaded. This spacey feeling leads to nausea and imbalance when you stand up.
The final phase (Postdrome) can leave you feeling exhausted, spaced out and unable to function for a day or two.
Diet and natural treatments for migraines.
I know that I am always driving the point home that a diet that is primarily industrially produced foods is not going to bring you health. And with so many chemical ingredients being ingested there is an increased likelihood of a reaction such as a migraine.
Cooking from scratch is more economical and with a freezer it can be simple to only cook twice a week. Plenty of fluids (not wine) are essential with green tea and only moderate amounts of coffee and other stimulants. Lots of fresh vegetables and fruits including foods that contain the nutrients below that have been shown to help balance hormones.
Keeping a food diary for a month and identifying foods that might be triggering an attack are important. But you will also be able to track your monthly cycle to see if the attacks mirror your ovulation or the five or six days pre-period when your hormones are most likely to trigger an attack.
Vitamin B6 is an important vitamin for helping balance hormones and you can find out more information here along with the foods that are the richest sources: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/23/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-we-need-vitamin-b6-pyridoxine-blood-health-and-depression/
Most women who are still menstruating are iron deficient so eating vegetables and fruits rich in the mineral is important. Iron requires Vitamin C and Vitamin B2 (recommended for migraines) for efficient uptake and here is a post that explains that in more detail along with the food sources you should include: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-that-work-better-with-others-part-two-iron-and-vitamin-c-and-b2-by-sally-cronin/
The other combination that helps maintain hormonal balance is Magnesium which is another nutrient that is fast becoming deficient: Vitamins C, D, K, Calcium and Magnesium need to be taken together https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/smorgasbord-health-column-nutrients-that-need-others-to-be-evitamin-c-d-k-calcium-and-magnesiumfficiently-absorbed-by-the-body/
This is where the Vitamin D link comes in… here is a short extract from a post I wrote recently. Vitamin D maintaining a healthy balance of calcium is also important for hormones.
There is also a strong link between magnesium and calcium in the role of balancing hormones and are used very successfully in the treatment of PMS and menopausal symptoms.
Oestrogen the female hormone has been identified as the fuel that breast cancer cells prefer and this is why during the menopause when levels are likely to be elevated, we are more likely to develop tumours. This can therefore be linked back to a deficiency in Calcium and by definition a lack of vitamin D which enables the mineral to be absorbed and used by the body.
Vitamin D also works to promote healthy cell growth and actively prevent the formation of abnormal growth which strengthens the link between not only breast cancer and a deficiency but other cancers as well. Incidences of breast, prostate and colon cancer in the cloudier, Northern parts of the United States are two to three times higher than in Sunnier states. A link has been established to a deficiency of Vitamin D with all these types of cancer.
Apart from working with other nutrients to provide a healthy balance, Vitamin D is also associated with a number of other chronic diseases including Osteoporosis (calcium) Diabetes, Heart disease, arthritis (immune system) Multiple sclerosis (autoimmune system) Obesity ( lowers the levels of leptin hormone produced by the fat cells which regulates weight) , PMS and infertility, chronic fatigue and depression.
And you can read the full article here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/smorgasbord-health-column-vitamin-d-deficiency-links-to-cancer-hormone-balance-sad-autism-and-ibs/
I hope that this has given you plenty of food for thought…. If you are a migraine sufferer, you are likely to be on prescribed medication. Do not stop this without consulting your doctor. However, you can take the steps I suggest above, and you may find that adjusting your diet and supplementing with Calcium/Magnesium with Vitamin B2, B6, Vitamin D (suggest spray combined with vitamin K2 for absorbality, especially during the winter months) will make a difference.
As always if you have any questions I am happy to answer them by email… firstname.lastname@example.org