Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) May Help Prevent Migraines
Some research suggests increasing riboflavin (vitamin B2) levels in the body can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Today, I’ll review what riboflavin is, some of its important roles in the body, and how it can help you reduce migraine episodes.
What is Riboflavin?
Riboflavin is one of eight B-complex vitamins. This group of water-soluble nutrients serves a few important functions. Thiamine (B1), niacin (B3), biotin (B7), and riboflavin (B2) are primarily important for energy production.
Other important roles of riboflavin include:
- Promoting proper cell growth and function
- Supporting healthy adrenal gland function
- Facilitating a healthy nervous system
- Breaking down dietary fats into fatty acids
Riboflavin is seriously powerful for migraineurs. In addition to preventing migraines, riboflavin is used to:
- Support eye and vision health
- Combat fatigue and brain fog
- Improve hair and skin health
- Provide antioxidant protection against free radicals
- Prevent and treat anemia.
So, how does riboflavin work against migraine headaches?
Riboflavin and Migraine Headaches
Increasing riboflavin levels is a natural remedy for both migraines and other types headaches. It can help:
-Reduce the frequency of migraine headache episodes
-Decrease pain and other symptoms during migraine attacks
-Decrease the duration of migraine attacks
Some doctors prescribe high doses of riboflavin (above 400 mg) to prevent migraines (and regular headaches) from occurring, or to decrease symptom severity of migraines. Even though it’s a natural remedy, doses this high should be taken with close medical supervision to keep an eye on response and look for any bad reactions. However, negative side effects with natural supplementation are rare.
Unfortunately, researchers aren’t sure exactly how riboflavin works against migraines, but they believe it has to do with maintaining proper function inside of cellular energy factories called mitochondria.
More research is needed to understand how vitamin B2 can treat or prevent migraines. However, eating more foods rich in this nutrient, or taking a high-quality B-complex supplement, is a positive step in the right direction to controlling migraines.
Food Sources of Riboflavin
It’s always preferable to get nutrients from natural whole food sources instead of taking dietary supplements; however, unfortunately, a lot of our food is nutrient-deficient due to soil treatments, so supplementation is often necessary. Many supplements are not what they claim to be, though. Be aware, some supplements contain contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides.
Therefore, always do your research when choosing a supplement brand. Stay away from fillers and supplements made in a lab rather than being sourced from natural ingredients.
Some of the best riboflavin foods are:
- Organ meats like liver and kidneys (choose grass-fed animal foods)
- Lamb meat
- Cow milk and products made from it
- Crimini, shiitake, portobello, and various other mushrooms
- Swiss chard, spinach, collards, and other green leafy vegetables
- Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Poultry eggs
Additionally, many grains, bread, and cereal products are fortified with vitamin B2 and some other nutrients; however, be cautious about your diet. Many migraineurs have underlying food sensitivities that may be making pain worse, so be sure to determine any food triggers first.
A food diary will help you figure out if food is even an issue. Track the foods you eat every day up until you have a migraine attack, then review for the culprits. Some common food triggers are dairy, cured meats, caffeine, alcohol, and gluten.
Migraines are more than headaches. They are neurological disorders that can cause various debilitating side effects like nausea, vomiting, extreme sensitivity to external stimuli, distorted vision, dizziness, and more.
Migraines have a variety of causes and triggers. The good news is, your migraine is likely treatable using natural remedies and lifestyle behavior changes because migraine is often a deficiency of some sort – too few nutrients, not enough sleep, food allergy, chronic stress, hormone function, etc. Improving your riboflavin levels is just one more way you can possibly reduce your chances of having a migraine attack.