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Magnesium and Migraine

Magnesium is a mineral that is needed in many of the cellular processes in our body. Magnesium is one of the most prevalent minerals in the body and needed as a cofactor in many metabolic processes. It is needed in energy production, DNA synthesis and cellular reproduction. It is also needed in stabilizing mitochondrial membrane and nerve transmission. It is also needed in the control of blood pressure and muscular contraction.

In the US, many people are low in magnesium given our unbalanced diets. Low magnesium levels have been found to be related to the onset or worsening of many diseases, including migraine, Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular diseases.

There have been a few studies, including observational and double-blinded studies, showing that supplementing with magnesium can help to decrease the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. It is not clear how magnesium is involved in migraine pathophysiology but it there is some belief that it could be related the onset of cortical spreading depression, the mechanism by migraine begins. The American Headache Society recommends supplementing with 200-400 mg of magnesium daily, but there are no clear doses or types of magnesium that work best for migraine.

Magnesium is usually paired with a salt that can help to determine its bioavailability and absorption. Magnesium oxide is most often used in studies which comes in an oral form, although it has low absorption in the gut, while magnesium sulfate is also used in IV form to help as an abortive. Magnesium citrate and lactate are the ones that are most easily absorbed in the gut.

In one review, that looked at a total of 21 studies, a total of 789 people took magnesium to help prevent migraine. There was significant evidence that it does help as a preventive therapy and IV magnesium can help get rid of a migraine while it is happening. This can be an effective therapy if a migraine has been ongoing for some time and oral pills are not effective. However, this does require that a doctor’s office or ER have the capability to give magnesium in the IV form.

It has been found to be particularly helpful in migraine with aura and menstrual migraine. It is important to keep in mind that it was previously thought to be safe in pregnancy but there are now reports that it may cause skeletal issues in the IV form, therefore it is important speak to your doctor prior to starting any new supplement or medication.

Domitrz I, Cegielska J. Magnesium as an Important Factor in the Pathogenesis and Treatment of Migraine-From Theory to Practice. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 5;14(5):1089. doi: 10.3390/nu14051089. PMID: 35268064; PMCID: PMC8912646.

Chiu HY, Yeh TH, Huang YC, Chen PY. Effects of Intravenous and Oral Magnesium on Reducing Migraine: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Pain Physician. 2016 Jan;19(1):E97-112. PMID: 26752497.

Volpe SL. Magnesium in disease prevention and overall health. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):378S-83S. doi: 10.3945/an.112.003483. PMID: 23674807; PMCID: PMC3650510.

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