Magnesium helps to prevent and mitigate migraines, both with and without aura, and headaches. Even better if magnesium pidolate, as it is more easily absorbed. This is what emerges from a recent review published in Nutrients magazine thanks to the research work of an Italian team (Maier et al, Nutrients, 2020).
The importance of magnesium
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant cation present in the human body. Magnesium participates in various biological processes, such as the synthesis of proteins and DNA, neuromuscular excitability and the secretion of thyroid hormones. The amount of magnesium present in the body is regulated by the intestine, which absorbs it from food or supplements taken, and by the kidneys, which can pass it into the urine or retain it depending on whether the quantity of this mineral is in excess or there is a deficiency. Sometimes, however, this mechanism gets jammed, as in the case of a poorly varied and unbalanced diet, due to impaired intestinal absorption, kidney problems, diabetes or osteoporosis. Well, a magnesium deficiency has been observed to be associated with an increased risk of developing mild to moderate migraine and tension-type headaches. Since the medicines used to prevent or treat these conditions often have side effects or, in some cases, can cause addiction, it is interesting to look for safer alternatives. Magnesium seems to be a valid ally against headaches.
Magnesium deficiency and headache
Studies have shown that people suffering from migraines, with and without aura, and tension-type headaches have a significantly lower level of circulating magnesium than people who do not have this disorder. Indeed, it has been observed that a reduction in magnesium levels can increase the risk of developing acute headache events by as much as 35% in predisposed people.
Magnesium supplements against migraines and tension headaches
Taking magnesium, on the other hand, has proven to help prevent migraines and headaches. For example, women with PMS took 360 mg of magnesium every day from the moment of ovulation until the onset of menstruation. As a result, both headache frequency and pain were decreased. Another study tested the action of 600 mg of magnesium, taken daily, on 80 volunteers, all suffering from migraines. Well, the intake of magnesium led to a 40% reduction in attacks. Even in children, the intake of 9 mg of magnesium per kilo of body weight led to a significant reduction in headache episodes. Magnesium supplements have always been found to be safe and well tolerated. The only side effects were gastrointestinal problems but minor and in any case very rare.
Which supplement to choose
There are several types of magnesium. In fact, on the market you can find organic magnesium, such as magnesium pidolate or lactate, or inorganic, such as magnesium chloride or magnesium carbonate. Well, scientists point to magnesium pidolate as the type of magnesium of choice for preventing headaches and migraines. In fact, magnesium pidolate is highly absorbable and this makes any treatment more effective. Magnesium pidolate has been shown to reverse the process that, from a magnesium deficiency, leads to the development of headaches even after a short-term intake.