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HeadWay, Issue #146 -- Has Your Doctor Recommended Vitamin D?
September 21, 2016

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In this issue:

Has Your Doctor Recommended Vitamin D?

Say what?! Vitamin D Deficiency

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Has Your Doctor Recommended Vitamin D?

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It's very common for migraine patients to have a vitamin D deficiency. And even if not a technical deficiency, at least a lower-than-recommneded level.

A new study has confirmed what previous studies have suggested. The study from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that 91% of children with migraine also had lower than recommended levels of vitamin D.

Now there's a bit of a catch to studies like these. The fact of the matter is that vitamin D deficiency is extremely common. So are migraine patients actually that much different than everyone else? And even if we're a little worse off than the general population, will a vitamin D supplement actually help decrease migraine attacks?

So briefly, how might vitamin D be connected to migraine or headaches, and how can you increase your intake of vitamin D?

Dangers of Low Vitamin D

There are a number of reasons why vitamin D is important for your health. For example, we know that migraine is linked to a risk of cardiovascular problems. Vitamin D is critical for cardiovascular health.

Vitamin D also inhibits inflammation, a key factor in many headache disorders. General aches and pains may also be related to low levels.

Also, many researchers are concerned about links between low vitamin D and depression, which is also comorbid with migraine. It is also important for the absorption of magnesium, which is key for fighting migraine in many people.

The list goes on and on - vitamin D is also important for reducing the risk of sleep apnea, diabetes, and even cancer.

So although the jury is out on whether or not a vitamin D supplement by itself will directly decrease migraine attacks, the evidence is growing that decent levels of vitamin D are lacking in many - even most people, and that it's important for your overall health.

Where can I get Vitamin D?

Your first step is sunshine. Just get outside and go for a walk. Seriously, a half hour walk a day will do many incredible things for your body.

Now note that if you're always using sunscreen, or if your skin is dark, this won't be enough.

So now we turn to foods. Many types of fish, such as salmon, sardines, trout, and tuna, are powerhouses of vitamin D. And in spite of it's traditionally bad reputation, many people still take a spoonful of cod liver oil a day, one of the best sources of vitamin D on the planet.

Eggs and mushrooms, particularly mushrooms like portabello, maitake and morel, especially when exposed to sunlight while growing or before eating, can provide significant amounts of vitamin D.

Almonds and almond milk are also a great source.


Supplements of course should not replace good food and a walk in the sun, but some people may need the extra boost. You can get your vitamin D tested at a lab or even in your doctor's office. You'll need to ask for a 25(OH)D test specifically. To get a full picture, test when your levels may be at their highest and lowest, in August and February. When looking at the results, if you're within range but still low, consider a supplement (you're already walking in the sunshine, right? And eating some tuna?).

Nature Made has an excellent selection of vitamin D supplements (thanks to Dr. Lawrence Robbins for the recommendation. Dr. Robbins also recommends not taking more than 4000 IU without consulting your doctor).

In a Few Words...

Taking vitamin D may not be an instant "cure" for migraine, but it still could make drastic differences in your overall health. As a compliment to other treatments, it could be the key for some headache and migraine patients, not only for lessening symptoms but also for fighting comorbid conditions, depression, and general aches and pains.

For more information:

Say what?! Vitamin D Deficiency

The more you read about vitamin D, the more you'll see that the numbers aren't adding up. One person recommends this level, another recommends that level. Some just list both and let you make your own decision.

Although there is widespread agreement that much of the population is not getting enough vitamin D, there is no agreement whatsoever just how much you should be getting.

So let the reader beware. Although there are good reasons to think that you're best off in the upper range, you may want to have a talk with your doctor to see what she recommends for you specifically.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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