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  • Writer's pictureKimberly King, MS, CNS-c

The Top 10 Supplements for Headache Support


Infographic of Top 10 supplements

According to the CDC, in 2021, over 110 million adults in the US have had a headache that has disrupted their life “a lot” in the past 3 months (1). There are many ways we can begin to prevent, reduce, or eliminate headache symptoms with the vitamins and minerals found in the foods we eat. Here are a few that have been shown to have the greatest benefit:  


Here are the top 10 supplements for headache support


#1 Riboflavin

Adding the simple B vitamin known as riboflavin (B2) to your supplement list may decrease unwanted headaches. Riboflavin is a precursor to coenzyme reactions in the brain and improves cellular mitochondrial energy - all of which support brain cellular health (2). Riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin that is considered safe and does not interact with any known medications. The recommended dose of riboflavin for preventative measures is 200 mg twice per day with meals (3).


#2 Niacin

 As soon as a migraine or tension headache strikes, try reaching for vitamin B3 or niacin in a chewable form. This may help increase the neurotransmitter serotonin and decrease symptoms quickly. Be sure the 300-500 mg is chewed slightly and then dissolved in the mouth for an acute migraine attack (4,5).


#3 Magnesium

A migraine headache causes constriction of blood flow in the brain. A pai-related protein known as calcitonin, a gene-related peptide (CGRP), is released which creates inflammation (CGRP). Magnesium has been shown to decrease CGRP, neurogenic inflammation, and oxidative stress overall. A dose of 400-420mg for adult men or 310- 320 mg for adult women are recommended daily doses. Pumpkin seeds and raw cacao powder are excellent sources of magnesium-rich foods (4,6).


#4 CoQ10

This is a powerhouse antioxidant in every cell in the body. CoQ10 supports reducing the frequency of headaches (7). It improves mitochondrial health and reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. It is often paired with magnesium and riboflavin to further support headache relief (4,7).


#5 Melatonin

While this hormone is known for its sleep-promoting functions, it also acts as an antioxidant by scavenging free radicals, which in turn has been shown to help decrease the frequency of headaches for some people. Doses of 3 mg an hour before bedtime for 2-3 months have been shown to be effective for the prevention of headaches (8). Ross Nutrition Team recommends phyto-melatonin, rather than synthetic.


#6 Feverfew

This herbaceous plant has been known for centuries for its many active compounds, most notably, parthenolide found in its leaves. Feverfew is also known for its anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing abilities. Feverfew can be taken in doses of 300 mg, up to 4 times daily, standardized to contain 0.2–0.4% parthenolide (4,6,9). 


#7 White Willow Bark

 White Willow Bark has many anti-inflammatory properties from flavonoids as well as salicin, a similar active ingredient to what is found in the common OTC pain reliever aspirin. White Willow Bark is often taken in doses of 120-240 mg of salicin by mouth daily for up to six weeks (4,10). If you have an allergy to salicin (aspirin), this should be avoided.


#8 Butterbur

Purple butterbur root is known for its neuroprotective ability to reduce constriction in blood vessels and reduce inflammation. Petadolex is the safest form to take. Dosing 50-150 mg per day is most effective in headache relief (4,11).


#9 Vitamin C

Vitamin C can help to “mop up” free radicals that can cause an increase in physical symptoms, including migraines. For those who have experienced a concussion, Vitamin C may be especially protective. Up to 1,000 mg per day may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines (12). We recommended divided dose of 500 mg twice daily.


#10 Vitamin D

Insufficient levels, <30 ng/mL, of vitamin D have been associated with a higher likelihood of developing headaches and experiencing them more frequently. Always have your vitamin D levels tested prior to supplementing to determine the best dose for you (4,13).


Summary

There are many alternative options available to help support the prevention of headaches and reduce or eliminate debilitating symptoms. Please check with your practitioner prior to starting any new supplements to determine what is best for you.


For more pieces of the headache puzzle, check out the blogs:

 

Download the Top 10 Supplements for Headache Support Infographic below! 👇🏼

Top 10 Supplements for Headache Support
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Disclaimer: Remember to always check with your healthcare provider before beginning any new supplements.  These may also be contraindicated with current medications or other lifestyle choices.  *These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 

This content is provided for educational purposes only and should not replace the guidance of your healthcare provider(s).


Written by Kimberly King, MS

Last reviewed and Updated June 4, 2024 


References:

1. Center for DC. QuickStats: Percentage of Adults Aged ≥18 Years Who Have Been Bothered a Lot by Headache or Migraine in the Past 3 Months, by Sex and Age Group — National Health Interview Survey, 2021 | Blogs | CDC. Center for Disease Control. Published June 2, 2023. Accessed May 2024. https://blogs.cdc.gov/nchs/2023/06/02/7381/

2. Gaul C, Diener HC, Danesch U; Migravent® Study Group. Improvement of migraine symptoms with a proprietary supplement containing riboflavin, magnesium and Q10: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicenter trial. J Headache Pain. 2015; 16:516. doi:10.1186/s10194-015-0516-6

3. Bonakdar, R. Chapter 13: Headache. In: Rakel, D. Integrative Medicine. 5th ed. Elsevier;2023.107-117.

4. Ross, K. M5_Headaches and Migraines. Recorded lecture. SCNMInstructure. Accessed 2022.

5. Prousky J, Seely D. The treatment of migraines and tension-type headaches with intravenous and oral niacin (nicotinic acid): systematic review of the literature. Nutr J. 2005; 4:3. Published 2005 Jan 26. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-4-3

6. Licina E, Radojicic A, Jeremic M, Tomic A, Mijajlovic M. Non-Pharmacological Treatment of Primary Headaches-A Focused Review. Brain Sci. 2023;13(10):1432. Published 2023 Oct 8. doi:10.3390/brainsci13101432

7. Sazali S, Badrin S, Norhayati MN, Idris NS. Coenzyme Q10 supplementation for prophylaxis in adult patients with migraine-a meta-analysis. BMJ Open. 2021;11(1):e039358. Published 2021 Jan 5. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2020-039358

8. Adnyana, I.O., Tertia, C., Widyadharma, I.E. et al. Melatonin as a treatment for migraine sufferers: a systematic review. Egypt J Neurol Psychiatry Neurosurg 58, 94 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41983-022-00524-3

9. Pareek A, Suthar M, Rathore GS, Bansal V. Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium L.): A systematic review. Pharmacogn Rev. 2011;5(9):103-110. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.79105

10. Lin CR, Tsai SHL, Wang C, et al. Willow Bark (Salix spp.) Used for Pain Relief in Arthritis: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Life (Basel). 2023;13(10):2058. Published 2023 Oct 14. doi:10.3390/life13102058

11. Borlak J, Diener HC, Kleeberg-Hartmann J, Messlinger K, Silberstein S. Petasites for Migraine Prevention: New Data on Mode of Action, Pharmacology and Safety. A Narrative Review. Front Neurol. 2022;13:864689. Published 2022 Apr 26. doi:10.3389/fneur.2022.864689

12. Shaik MM, Gan SH. Vitamin supplementation as possible prophylactic treatment against migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:469529. doi:10.1155/2015/469529

13. Niu P-P, Wang X and Xu Y-M (2022) Higher Circulating Vitamin D Levels Are Associated With Decreased Migraine Risk: A Mendelian Randomization Study. Front. Nutr. 9:907789. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.907789

 

 

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