Migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Vitamin D Deficiency

June 27, 2016

Migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Vitamin D Deficiency

Most migraine suffers are no stranger to bowel discomforts. For many, either the aura or the postdrome migraine hangover are accompanied by abdominal pain and digestive distress. It is also not uncommon for migraine sufferers to suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or IBS at other times.

IBS is a bowel disorder that often coexists with migraine headaches. People diagnosed with IBS usually suffer from bloating, abdominal discomfort and frequent diarrhea. Both IBS and migraine are 2-3 times more likely to occur in women than in men. Recent studies have made a strong connection between migraine and irritable bowel syndrome – research has concluded that people with IBS are 60% more likely to suffer from migraines than people without IBS.

The exact cause of IBS is not well understood, but like migraines, it can be debilitating to those who suffer from the disorder. For people who suffer from both IBS and migraines, living a relatively normal life can be close to impossible.

Vitamin D and Migraine

Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. Our skin helps us absorb vitamin D from the sun and use it for energy, mood balance and to help fight off inflammation. Because our busy lifestyles (especially in the winter months) keep us from spending a lot of time in the sun each day, many Americans are vitamin D deficient.

If you are suffering from migraines, vitamin D could be especially important to your health. A recent study found that low vitamin D levels were significantly correlated with migraine headache. Have you noticed an increase in headaches when you don’t spend any time outdoors? If so, lack of vitamin D could be a migraine trigger for you.

Vitamin D and IBS

Vitamin D is a pretty hot topic lately. The British Medical Journal just posted a study that also linked vitamin D to IBS symptoms. Researchers found that of 51 patients with IBS, 82 per cent had insufficient vitamin D levels. There was also an association between vitamin D level and the how the sufferer perceived their quality of life.

Migraine, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Vitamin D Deficiency

For people living with both migraine headache and IBS, vitamin D could provide some relief. Have your doctor test your blood for vitamin D to find out if you are deficient. Supplements are readily available over the counter and most dairy products are fortified with vitamin D. The vitamin is also found naturally in oily fish like sardines and mackerel, calf’s liver, eggs and cod-liver oil.


  1. Celikbilek, A., Gocmen, A. Y., Zararsiz, G., Tanik, N., Ak, H., Borekci, E., & Delibas, N. (2014). Serum levels of vitamin D, vitamin D‐binding protein and vitamin D receptor in migraine patients from central Anatolia region.International journal of clinical practice68(10), 1272-1277.
  2. Khayyat, Y., & Attar, S. (2015). Vitamin D Deficiency in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Does it Exist? Oman Medical Journal30(2), 115–118. http://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2015.25
  3. Van Hemert, S., Breedveld, A. C., Rovers, J. M., Vermeiden, J. P., Witteman, B. J., Smits, M. G., & de Roos, N. M. (2014). Migraine associated with gastrointestinal disorders: review of the literature and clinical implications. Frontiers in neurology5.

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