Nutritional Remedies for Menstrual Migraines

Migraines are a common and intense form of headaches that affect 5 – 25% of women and 2 – 10% of men. Symptoms, causes, intensity, duration and frequency vary and can present differently from individual to individual. [1]

Migraines can be divided into two categories [1]

  • Migraines with Aura
  • Migraines without Aura

Migraines without aura are more common and constitute about 80% of reported cases. Causes include seasonal and hormonal changes, with the latter being especially true for women. [1]

The suggestions in this article apply to those who suffer from migraines with aura and menstrual/hormonal migraines.

Riboflavin / Vitamin B-2

Studies were conducted in Belgium, USA, Australia, Netherlands and Germany with different combinations and doses of Vitamin B-2, such as in combination with Magnesium among other micro-nutrients. The doses ranged from 50 mg to 400 mg of Vitamin B-2 per day. [1] Please see the references cited for detailed information.

All the studies resulted in a reduction in frequency, duration and/or intensity of the attacks in a certain percentage of patients (sometimes not specified), which is quite an encouraging outcome. Side effects observed were diarrhoea, polyuria (urine output greater than 3 litres per day) [1] and abdominal cramps [3], all of which were categorised as minor [1][3].

The recommended dietary allowance for Riboflavin / Vitamin B-2, for males and females 19 years and upward is 1.1 mg and 1.3 mg per day, respectively [2]. For other age ranges, please check the references cited below. The dosage mentioned in the studies is many times that. There is no upper limit established for intake as excess consumption isn’t absorbed and if absorbed, is excreted in urine [2].

Conclusion: 50 mg to 400 mg Riboflavin / Vitamin B-2 intake per day can help alleviate the frequency, duration and intensity of migraines in certain individuals. It may also help individuals who suffer from other types of migraines [3].

Vitamins B-6, B-9 and B-12

Studies were conducted in Australia with participants who consumed Vitamin B-6 (25 mg), Vitamin B-9 (2 mg) and Vitamin B-12 (400 μg) per day. This caused a reduction in the disability caused by migraines from 60% to 30% in addition to a reduction in frequency of occurrence and severity of pain experienced. [1]

Recommended intakes for these vitamins are as follows. The values mentioned under each vitamin indicate the amount for males and females respectively. For other age ranges and conditions such as pregnancy and lactation, please see the references cited.

Age RangeB-6 [4]
B-9 [5]
B-12 [6]
19 – 50 years1.3 / 1.3400 / 400 DFE2.4 / 2.4
51 years onward1.7 / 1.5400 / 400 DFE2.4 / 2.4
Upper Intake Level100mg1000μgNA

As the upper intake level of Vitamin B-9 is less than the amount suggested by the study, note that there are adverse effects possibly associated with exceeding the mentioned amount of Vitamin B-9, though these aren’t as well understood as desired [5].

Conclusion: The consumption of Vitamin B-6 (25 mg), Vitamin B-9 (2 mg) and Vitamin B-12 (400 μg) per day can cause a reduction in migraine induced disability, frequency and intensity of attacks in certain individuals.

Vitamin E

The use of 400 IU per day of Vitamin E, for 5 days, during menstruation, for 3 cycles may help reduce pain severity and alleviation of disability level. Note that headaches may worsen on stopping the treatment [1].

The RDA for this vitamin is 22.4 IU per day for both males and females 14 years upward with tolerable upper intake levels at 1,500 IU per day. [7]

Vitamin C

The use of Vitamin C has not been investigated via a randomised control trial, though it is suggested that the intake of 1000 mg of Vitamin C per day can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks [1].

The RDA for this vitamin in individuals 19 years and upward, is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Smokers will require an additional 35 mg per day. The tolerable upper intake level is 2000 mg per day with no adverse side effects reported. [8]

Please keep your doctor informed if you plan to try any of these suggestions and do mention your experiences in case you do.


  1. Vitamin Supplementation as Possible Prophylactic Treatment against Migraine with Aura and Menstrual Migraine
  2. Office of Dietary Supplements – Riboflavin
  3. Effectiveness of high-dose riboflavin in migraine prophylaxis. A randomized controlled trial
  4. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B-6
  5. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B-9
  6. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B-12
  7. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E
  8. Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C

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