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A high vitamin B2 intake can reduce migraine attacks

A high vitamin B2 intake can reduce migraine attacksPeople whose dietary consumption of vitamin B2 is more than twice the amount that is officially recommended have significantly fewer migraine attacks, according to a new study published in Neurology. Earlier studies also show that high-dosed vitamin B2 supplementation has a positive effect. It is important to pay attention to the factors that impair the body’s utilization of vitamin B2.

Migraine affects people of all ages and typically manifests itself as a unilateral, throbbing headache. The pain is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. The headache lasts anywhere from a few hours to three days. It is known that the large blood vessels on the outside of the brain dilate during the migraine attack, and it most likely this vessel dilation that causes the pain. Still, there is altered electric activity in the brain cells that makes the attack start and stop. It also seems that migraines can cause mitochondrial dysfunction. The mitochondria are the cellular powerhouses that make energy in the cells.

  • Migraines affect around 15% of the population and as much as one in eight children.
  • The disease is the estimated cause of around one million lost work days and school days every year.

Migraine patients need more vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, is mainly found in liver, meat, dairy products, eggs, whole grains, legumes, nuts, kernels, and vegetables. Vitamin B2 is important for the nervous system and for cellular energy turnover, which takes place inside the mitochondria.
In Denmark, the reference intake (RI) level – formerly known as RDA (recommended daily allowance) – for vitamin B2 is 1.4 mg, while it is slightly lower in the United States. Adults who consume around 2.87 mg of dietary vitamin B2 have a 27% lower risk of migraine attacks compared to adults with a daily consumption of 1.4 mg or less. This was observed in an American study, where the researchers looked at the diets of 3,634 participants aged 20-50 years. Of those participating in the study, 884 reported to suffer from violent migraine attacks.
The scientists behind the new three-month study collected data from a large study known as NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey)
It turned out that the majority of participants got sufficient vitamin B2 from their diets in relation to the official guidelines. However, the scientists believe that migraine patients may have an increased need for the nutrient. The new study is published in Neurology.
It should be mentioned that, even if your dietary vitamin B2 intake is adequate, you may have an increased need due to poor utilization of the vitamin caused by stress, and overconsumption of alcohol, sugar, coffee, and other stimulants, birth control pills, nerve medication, and diuretics.

  • Vitamin B2 is water-soluble, which means that excess amounts of the nutrient are excreted in the urine. In other words, there is no risk of toxicity.
  • High vitamin B2 intake causes your urine to turn yellow, but that is harmless.

High-dosed vitamin B2 supplements can prevent migraine

The most important is to get adequate amounts of vitamin B2 from a healthy, balanced diet. However, if you suffer from migraine headaches, you should consider taking a supplement. According to a study published online at StatPearls, daily supplementation with 400 mg of vitamin B2 has a positive effect on migraine in adults. This dose must be ingested for at least three months in order to get a good result.
The scientists also refer to the fact that migraines may be caused by mitochondrial dysfunction. Vitamin B2 is essential for the so-called electron transport chain in the mitochondria, which is the process where calories from food are converted into energy that is stored chemically in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate). In other words, malfunctioning mitochondria may increase your need for vitamin B2.
For the record, coenzyme Q10 is also essential for the electron transport chain and for breaking down ATP and releasing the energy trapped inside this molecule. In fact, other studies show that large doses of coenzyme Q10 also has a positive effect on migraines. Both vitamin B2 and coenzyme Q10 function as antioxidants that protect the cells and the mitochondria against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.


Mitchel L. Zoler. Moderately high dietary riboflavin linked to fewer migraines. Neurology 2019

Navid Mahabadi et al. Riboflavin Deficiency. StatPearls. 2019

Pernille Lund. Q10 – fra helsekost til epokegørende medicin. Ny Videnskab 2014

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