Can You Take Vitamins to Combat Migraines? Riboflavin & Magnesium in Headache Management
The Search For Relief
One of the challenges when it comes to migraine is that there’s rarely, if ever, a straightforward way to manage attacks and symptoms. What ends up happening in the majority of cases is that migraineurs have to try out a number of different treatments, while also making individual efforts to minimize impact. And sometimes it’s the latter—what you do on your own—that makes the most difference, especially if it’s paired with proper medical intervention.
Among the many approaches out there to help with migraine, the use of vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and magnesium supplements has been on the rise. The question, of course, is: Do these actually help? [1, 2] Let’s take a look at the evidence.
The Case For Riboflavin
Also known as vitamin B2, riboflavin helps with the growth and production of red blood cells, while being instrumental in the absorption of energy from carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. While you can certainly get supplements of B2, it’s also found in a number of foods, including: 
- Leaner Meats
- Turnip Greens
- Whole Grains
Studies have shown that migraine sufferers have deficits of this vitamin, so, the thinking goes, boosting riboflavin intake should help mitigate and reduce attacks.
But is there direct evidence of riboflavin working for migraineurs? It turns out that, while B2 by itself isn’t going to eradicate migraine, supplements can help with attacks. This comes from two formative studies:
- Better Than Placebo: One study from 1998 found that taking a 400 mg riboflavin supplement worked better than a placebo pill (a “fake” pill containing no vitamins) at managing migraine. After three months of use, those that took vitamin B2 saw decreased severity in attacks and a robust 50 percent drop in frequency.
- Daily Doses: A second study from 2004 found that daily use of 400 mg riboflavin supplements experienced less attacks leading to significantly lower consumption of pain killers. That said, there was no significant drop in intensity and total hours of headache. 
Basically, there’s some evidence that B2 can help; it may not be the “silver bullet” you’re looking for, but it’s certainly worth exploring as an additional tool.
Making Way for Magnesium
So what does magnesium do for the body? This mineral helps strengthen bones, assists in stabilizing blood pressure, helps ensure healthy heart rhythm, while aiding nerve function.  Similar to riboflavin, it’s been noted that migraineurs have low levels of magnesium, and it’s notable that about 75 percent of Americans don’t get enough in their diets.  Among the difficulties of getting enough of this mineral is that it doesn’t absorb into the body without being connected to another substance.
As such, there are a number of different types of supplements out there, with magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfide being the two believed to help with migraine the most. So, is there evidence that this supplement can work? Here’s what we know:
- Significant Reductions: One study published in 2001 found that IV administration of one gram of magnesium sulfide helped significantly reduce migraine symptoms in 15 patients, showing marked results when compared to placebo. Among the findings were complete eradication of pain in 86.6 percent of cases, and of associated symptoms in 100 percent of them.  Of course, results wouldn’t be as robust for oral versus medically administered supplements.
- Stopping Cortical Spreading Depression: The main reason magnesium is thought to be effective for migraine is because of it helps prevent on “cortical spreading depression,” the cascade of brain activity that culminates in symptoms.  A number of studies have shown that daily supplements of magnesium oxide—usually in 400 mg doses—moderate and temper attacks.
While potential pathways are well known, and results seen, it’s important to note that it’s actually difficult to get a real sense of magnesium levels in blood. This has impeded a complete understanding of how this supplement works; however, taking these supplements is worth exploring.
A Plan That Works For You
Research may go one way or the other—and it’s encouraging to know that it continues!—but the only results that really matter to the migraineur is whether they find actual relief or reductions in migraine attacks. What works in some cases may not in others, so it’s up to the patient and doctor to find treatments and lifestyle choices that are helpful. Most important is that the patient doesn’t give up; something will work, and, hard as it may sometimes be to believe, brighter, migraine free days, are ahead.
If you suffer from frequent migraine attacks or have been diagnosed as a chronic case, the team at Migraine Treatment Centers of America is ready to help. They specialize in employing the latest in treatments and technologies to help those suffering find relief. Learn more about what they do by calling (855) 300-6822 today!
- “Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) For Migraine Headaches”. 2017. Com. Accessed December 18 2017. https://migraine.com/migraine-treatment/natural-remedies/riboflavin-vitamin-b2/.
- “Magnesium For Migraines: Benefits And Risks”. 2017. Healthline. Accessed December 18 2017. https://www.healthline.com/health/magnesium-for-migraines#modal-close.
- Notre Dame, U. (2006). Magnesium….The Invisible Deficiency // Campus Dining // University of Notre Dame. [online] Campus Dining. Available at: https://dining.nd.edu/whats-happening/news/magnesiumthe-invisible-deficiency/ [Accessed 18 Dec. 2017].
- Demirkaya S, et al. 2001. “Efficacy Of Intravenous Magnesium Sulfate In The Treatment Of Acute Migraine Attacks. – Pubmed – NCBI “. Nlm.Nih.Gov. Accessed December 18 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/112