Does Magnesium Help Prevent Migraines?

Magnesium is a crucial mineral in the human body that supports many major organs and functions necessary for life. A healthy body contains about 25 grams of magnesium, with up to 60% of that going to the bones, which require magnesium for development (via National Institutes of Health). The rest contributes to various systems, including supporting nerve function, as well as regulating blood glucose and blood pressure. Migraines involve nerves and blood vessels in the brain (via Cleveland Clinic), and magnesium helps promote proper blood and nervous system functions. So could magnesium help prevent migraines?

While the causes of migraines remain largely unknown, the Cleveland Clinic outlines the mechanisms. First, nerves within blood vessels in the head send pain signals to the brain. Next, the brain releases inflammatory elements back into nerves and blood vessels. Finally, a migraine headache forms. 

Migraine symptoms include moderate to intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, body temperature changes, inability to focus, and other less common symptoms (via National Health Service). Why the brain responds this way is unclear, but the result is tangible and can be highly disruptive. Magnesium may be one way to prevent and alleviate these symptoms.

Magnesium and migraine pain

News Medical reports that people have recorded their migraine experiences as early as ancient Egypt, in 1200 B.C. Since then, migraines have been notoriously difficult to get rid of, and the NHS confirms they can last four hours to three days once they start. In this case, an old adage may be good medicine: "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Numerous studies have identified magnesium as an influence in the occurrence of migraines, both in deficiency and prevention, as illustrated in the 2011 book "Magnesium in the Central Nervous System."

According to WebMD, magnesium has been shown to block certain pain-causing chemicals and brain signals that lead to migraines with aura and pain. Ensuring your body has enough of the magnesium it needs could help reduce the frequency of migraines. However, its efficacy is not guaranteed. The most common ways to get magnesium are through magnesium supplements and food. Foods high in magnesium include spinach, nuts, whole grains, and legumes. 

When taking magnesium supplements, 400 milligrams to 600 milligrams per day is the recommended dose. You shouldn't take more than 1,200 milligrams daily. And, if you take a multivitamin, check the label for magnesium to avoid overdoing it. Consult your doctor for your recommended dosage. Be especially cautious if you take other medications, as magnesium is known to interact with certain drugs (via WebMD).