Vitamin B and Folic Acid
Supplements Prevent Migraines
Increased intake of folic acid and other B vitamins
may reduce the frequency and severity of migraine
attacks, according to a study conducted by researchers
from the Genomics Research Center at Australia's
Migraine attacks are characterized by severe headaches,
often accompanied by sensitivity to lights, sounds
or smells; nausea; vomiting; and pins and needles
sensations. Eighty percent of migraine patients
suffer from at least one attack per month. Attacks
can last up to 72 hours, and may be so debilitating
that patients become unable to function.
Currently, migraines are treated with potent painkillers
or anti-nausea drugs, with mixed results. Other
treatments include antidepressants and beta-blockers,
both of which carry the potential for severe and
even dangerous side effects.
In the current study, researchers gave 50 migraine
patients supplements of folic
acid and vitamin B. According to researcher
Lyn Griffiths, they observed "a drastic improvement
in headache frequency, pain severity and associated
disability for those treated."
The researchers suspected that B vitamins would
prove effective because they are known to help
regulate levels of the amino homocysteine. Genetic
research has shown that a mutation or malfunction
of the gene MTHFR results both in elevated homocysteine
levels and an increase risk of migraine. High
levels of homocysteine have also been linked to
a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The Griffith University team is now preparing
to carry out a larger study to find out what doses
work best for individual migraine patients, also
taking into account any genetic predisposition
to migraine that they might have.
Migraine is the most common neurological condition
in the world, with approximately 6 to 15 percent
of adult men suffering at least one attack per
year and 14 to 35 percent of adult women. Between
12 and 28 percent of people will suffer at least
one attack in their lifetime.