Personalized Vitamins Can Help with Migraine Troubles

Personalized Vitamins Can Help with Migraine Troubles

There are inextricable linkages between good nutrition and migraine prevention.  Unfortunately, most over-the-counter supplements are not properly dosed to attend to migraine issues.  For example, a men’s or women’s multivitamin will have some nutrients that can be beneficial to migraines, but these products will have dosing that is far below the dosing thresholds demonstrated by the leading scientific evidence.  It is like taking a watered-down drink and expecting to get intoxicated.  A standard multivitamin will simplify fill gaps in recommended daily allowance (RDA) levels based on a healthy individual keeping a standard and balanced diet.  The RDA scale is the wrong metric for dosing a vitamin for migraines.  And, how many individuals are completely healthy and keep a balanced diet anymore?  We live in a society with many chronic health challenges and skewed diets (e.g., vegetarian, keto, paleo, etc.).

The rise of the personalized vitamin market provides some hope to migraine sufferers.  These companies conduct an upfront assessment of consumer health and lifestyle needs, and then tailor supplements to the individual profile.  The vast majority of personalized vitamin brands start with an online survey that asks questions around demographics, diet, food choices, exercise, health history, health status, and medications.  A subset of these companies will also request biological or genetic material to guide their recommendation.  Note, however, that limited data exists to suggest the validity of these methods in driving vitamin recommendations.  There have been independent journalists that have looked into blood testing and found that at-home blood tests are suspect and frequently fail to correspond to in-office testing from medical professionals.  There is a limited range of nutrients that can be tested through bloodwork.  Furthermore, a point-in-time blood test does not tell you where your results may be trending.  As for genetics, the field of nutrigenetics is very nascent and the jury is out on the science behind these methods.  The mere presence of a gene does not mean that it is active in your body.  Overall, a survey is the best way to assess vitamin needs in the current period.

The delivery method for personalized supplements takes a few different courses.  Some companies will prescribe a pill pack. These pill packs tend to overprescribe supplements, and a consumer can easily get stuck paying for 10 or more daily pills, which can run $100 or more per month.  The pill pack models often contain supplements that have very limited scientific evidence like herbal or botanical sources, or allow consumers to create their own pill pack, which leads to the problems around self-prescribing including overdoses, pseudoscience, inefficient spending, and sub-optimized functional benefits.  Other companies will suggest a liquid mix like a pre-made smoothie pouch or “Keurig-like” device that mixes liquid pods.  Many consumers do not have the patience or palate to drink a daily vitamin mix.  It has been compared to “vita-sludge” from a taste profile.  There are also questions around the efficacy of the delivery method, and whether it promotes the optimal absorption within the gut.  A strongly preferred method of personalized vitamins are customized all-in-one supplements.  There are personalized vitamin brands that will tailor the dosages of a single pill.  There are many advantages to this approach from a cost and compliance perspective.

Relationship between Vitamins and Migraines

It turns out that there is actually good scientific data suggesting that certain vitamins, taken in proper and safe doses, can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.  So yes, vitamins can help get rid of migraines if you know what to take and how much.

First off, you can reduce migraines by making several informed lifestyle choices.  This means getting adequate sleep, drinking plenty of water and avoiding certain foods that may be triggers (some offenders can include red wine, chocolate, smoked or cured meats, soy sauce, or aged cheeses).  It is important to know your body and what triggers you may have around migraine problems.

In addition to certain foods that trigger migraines, certain situational circumstances are also known to bring them on.  In some cases, these include excess heat and sunlight exposure, dehydration or certain motion related activities (think roller coasters, reading in the car, etc).  When it comes to hydration, staying on top of water consumption is key, but also do not ignore key electrolytes, which help our bodies hold onto fluids and are especially useful at keeping your brain cells hydrated.

When it comes to vitamins to help migraines, the most substantiated and studied examples are vitamin D and magnesium.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in migraine frequency.  Addressing this deficiency is essential to better health and well-being.  Given that vitamin D deficiency in varying degrees is rampant today, most of us benefit from taking some form of supplementation.  How much to take varies based on individual needs.

Magnesium is an electrolyte and a mineral that is essential for cellular function.  It helps cells preserve their hydration and hold the water inside that they desperately need to function.  This is particularly important to migraine treatment when it comes to brain cells because if they dehydrate, this can trigger migraines.  Hence. supplemental magnesium can help prevent migraines.  It also may play a role in preventing the arteries in the brain from spasming, which is essentially the cause for migraines.  Magnesium, in doses of approximately 300mg daily can be useful for migraine treatment and prevention.

Other vitamins and suggested to help with migraine prevention include Riboflavin and Butterbur. Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2 works by unknown mechanisms.  The good news is that riboflavin is readily available in many food sources including most breads, cereals and grains, eggs, milk and some green vegetables.  Deficiency is rare, though some choose to take supplemental B2.

While Butterbur has been studied and shown to help reduce migraine frequency and severity, we advise extreme caution when considering taking it.  As with all herbal products, manufacturing and production is often flawed and products can contain contaminates and unknown substances, sometimes very little of the actual desired herbal.  With butterbur it is especially important to buy a product free of pyrrolizidine alkaloids (PAs) as this common ingredient has been known to cause liver damage. Look for a PA free product as well as (with any supplements) look for something that is USP or GMP certified.

Choosing Your Personalize Vitamin for Migraines

A personalized vitamin blend will factor in your tendency to have migraines with a responsive formula.  These specialized blends can come in pill packs, liquid mixes, or customized all-in-one pills.  With several emerging brands in this space, it is critical to find a brand that you can trust.  It is important to do your homework and understand the scientific expertise behind the process.  Are there physicians or other experts involved with the company?   How active are these scientists – are they members of an advisory board or part of the day-to-day management of the company?  Is there published research like a book or articles associated with the company?  Do they have stamps of good manufacturing practices (GMP) or made in the USA?  Does the company have a track record of longevity with years of serving customers?  What can you learn from the reviews about customer service and product features?

Ultimately, you need to select a personalized vitamin that will allow you to stick to a long-term routine because the benefits around migraines take months and years of usage to manifest.  Is it realistic that you can tear open a daily baggie of pills of different shapes and sizes and swallow 10+ vitamins per day?  Can you afford $100 or more per month?  If not, then perhaps a personalized pill pack is not the way to go.  Do you see yourself drinking a smoothie pouch every day to get your vitamins and paying $80 or more per month?  Do you see yourself mixing a “Keurig-like” vitamin drink each morning and maintaining all of the hardware on your countertop?  If not, consider whether liquid mixes meet your needs.  A simple and effective way is to find a company that will create an all-in-one multivitamin that is personalized to your needs.  These services typically run about $30 per month, and while they represent a price premium compared to over-the-counter multivitamin, the financial return will come through better results from your daily vitamin routine.  You can start personalizing your vitamin today and you may find that you have less frequent and pronounced migraines in the future.