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Magnesium for Migraines: Is It a Better Therapy To Ease Your Symptoms? - ABQ

Last updated: October 14, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M – About 52% of people worldwide suffer from headaches like you. About 14% of them reported migraines, according to the latest Journal of Headache and Pain study. There are many medications and therapies to relieve pain. One of them is magnesium for migraines. 

Let’s discuss the evidence behind how magnesium works for migraines.

  • Magnesium and migraines
  • Kinds of magnesium
  • Potential side effects and risks
  • Safety 
  • Sources of magnesium

Why Take Magnesium for Migraines?

Magnesium is found in the body and performs five main functions. 

  1. It helps with your nerve and muscle function.
  2. It keeps your bones strong.
  3. It supports your immune system. 
  4. It helps regulate your blood sugar levels.
  5. It aids in producing energy for you. 

Moreover, some scientists believe that magnesium works for migraines. They say that people with low magnesium levels tend to have migraines more than others. Thus, some medical practitioners suggest magnesium oxide as a form of prevention.

A 2021 study reveals that magnesium oxide works as well as valproate sodium. Both stop the onset of migraine attacks. A dose of one 500 mg pill is effective without significant side effects.

Moreover, a similar 2021 study shows magnesium enhances sodium valproate. This combination therapy can reduce the duration, frequency, and severity of migraine attacks.

At the same time, magnesium for migraines can be taken intravenously. Magnesium sulfate goes directly into your bloodstream and bypasses your digestive system. According to a 2019 systematic review, evidence shows potential benefits in controlling acute headaches. But, researchers cannot conclude its efficacy.

So, what type of magnesium would be a better choice to help with your migraines? Read the next section for details. 

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What are the Kinds of Magnesium?

There are many kinds of magnesium used for different health conditions. Unlike other vitamins or minerals, it needs another substance. These binders or amino acids aid in magnesium absorption. 

They are usually combined in supplements. For example, according to a migraine specialist, magnesium goes well with vitamin B2 and CoQ10.

Examples of different kinds of magnesium found in supplements as:

  • Carbonate contains higher amounts of magnesium.
  • Chloride is easily absorbed by your body.
  • Citrate is often used to aid in moving your bowels.
  • Glycinate is easily absorbed and easy on the stomach.
  • Malate also works for fibromyalgia other than migraines.
  • Oxide can ease your migraine attacks.
  • Sulfate can only be absorbed by your body in small amounts. Magnesium taurate improves migraine attacks and heart and blood sugar issues.
  • Threonate penetrates the blood-brain barrier without causing stomach problems.

A 2017 Journal of Headache and Pain review analyzed five “gold standard” studies on magnesium supplements. One study shows that people taking magnesium for migraines had 43% fewer migraine attack days than others. But overall, the review concludes that magnesium may be “possibly effective” for migraine prevention.

Some experts claim magnesium glycinate would be an option of choice. Its bioavailability allows better absorption in the gut. Although, more studies are needed to determine the best magnesium for headaches. You may consult us for free to choose an appropriate one for you since there are about 11 types of magnesium.

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What are the Potential Side Effects and Risks?

Medications have potential effects, and so does magnesium. People may experience stomach cramps or pain, loose bowels, nausea, and vomiting. It usually happens when you take it in high doses.

Other potential severe side effects at high doses include:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Coma

People who have medical conditions should seek medical advice. Taking magnesium supplements can cause:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney issues
  • Stomach disorders

Moreover, magnesium interacts with some medications. Healthcare providers caution people who are taking any of these drugs:

  • Levodopa for Parkinson's disease 
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics 
  • Calcium channel blockers for high blood pressure
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Anticoagulants/antiplatelets
  • Digoxin
  • Diabetes medications
  • Antacids

You must watch out for magnesium overload if you are already taking supplements. It is rare, though, since it takes about 5,000 mg of magnesium daily. Nevertheless, it may result in magnesium toxicity. In addition, people with kidney problems, hypothyroidism, and gut disorders are at risk of it.

Children and pregnant women can take magnesium supplements with the correct dose. But it is still best to consult us for other precautions.

Is Magnesium for Migraines Safe?

Before taking any medication, it’s vital to know its efficacy and safety. Earlier studies on IV magnesium have conflicting results. According to these studies, it may and may not work. More evaluation is needed to set the correct effective dose. 

But some researches reveal it can be a promising therapy for low magnesium levels and migraines. The John Hopkins Headache Center recommends 400 mg for people with low magnesium levels. 

Additionally, the American Migraine Foundation notes that magnesium oxide oral intake can prevent migraine. The usual dose is 400-600 mg daily. An IV dose of 1-2 mg magnesium sulfate for acute attacks also works.

A 2017 review of studies shows magnesium for migraines as Grade C is possibly effective. It seemed safe at 600 mg for migraine prevention. At the same time, small-scale research received 1 g IV magnesium sulfate over 15 minutes. It was effective, safe, and well-tolerated for acute migraine attacks. 

On the other hand, a study reveals magnesium oxide is safe for episodic migraines in pregnant women. Additionally, it decreased the duration, frequency, and severity of headaches. 

Moreover, magnesium oxide with riboflavin controlled 94% of migraines. A similar study reveals positive results of combination therapy. Magnesium, riboflavin, and Q10 significantly reduced the intensity of migraine pain.

Talk to us about your migraines.

What Foods Contain Magnesium for Migraines?

Some scientists claim that migraines are caused by inflammation. And studies show that magnesium prevents chronic inflammation. Thus, magnesium for migraines can work as a prevention. In addition, you can find magnesium in foods as an alternative to supplements. 

Here are five high magnesium foods based on the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI):

  1. Spinach (1 cup or 180 g) contains 39% of the RDI
  2. Pumpkin seeds (1 ounce or 28 g) have 37% of the RDI
  3. Black beans ( 1 cup or 170 g) contain 30% of the RDI
  4. Almonds (1 ounce or .08 g) have 20% of the RDI
  5. Dry buckwheat (1 ounce or 28 g) contains 16% RDI

Dark chocolate (1 ounce or 28 g) contains 16% RDI or magnesium. Ironically, experts suggest dark chocolate also contains tyramine which triggers migraines. 

In 2020, researchers published a review on the relationship between migraines and chocolate. The review identified 23 studies pointing out chocolate as a trigger of migraines. However, although there was a link, the study concludes there is still insufficient proof of the claim. 

The same can be said about coffee. Some medications contain caffeine to relieve headaches. But overuse of these caffeine medications can cause rebound headaches.

For example, 98 participants drank coffee for at least six weeks in a 2019 study. The results suggested high levels of caffeine may trigger migraines. However, the study has limitations as it did not measure caffeine intake.

In contrast to healthy foods, there are foods you can also avoid. Here’s a list of foods that can set off headaches: 

  • Artificial sweeteners like aspartame
  • Alcohol
  • Cheese 
  • Foods containing preservatives like nitrates
  • Foods with monosodium glutamate or MSG

Takeaway

Science supports magnesium for migraines. People who have low levels of magnesium benefit from supplements and infusions. However, taking magnesium won’t do any better for people within normal levels.  

Eating foods high in magnesium helps in preventing headaches. At the same time, avoiding trigger-causing foods also keeps migraines at bay. If you are having a migraine attack, IV magnesium works fast in relieving your pain. 

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