Magnesium-Rich Foods to Prevent Headaches
With small dietary adjustments and a proper balance of nutrients, many types of headaches can be prevented. One of the most important nutrients in this regard is magnesium, and research shows that many migraine sufferers have chronically low magnesium levels.
What Magnesium Does in the Body
Magnesium is an important nutrient that is crucial to human health. It helps to regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure, and it assists in forming protein, bone, and DNA. In addition to migraine headaches, studies on magnesium have revealed that healthy magnesium levels may decrease the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, osteoporosis, and type-2 diabetes. Magnesium also has a profound impact on the brain and the activation of nerve channels, as researchers demonstrated in a study published in the journal, Neuron.
Not only may magnesium help prevent headaches, but it also may be able to treat acute headaches when they strike. A study published in the journal, Headache, found that when treated with intravenous magnesium sulfate, migraine pain disappeared in 86.6% of patients, it was diminished in 13.4% of patients, and 100% of their accompanying symptoms disappeared. This just goes to show how powerful of an impact magnesium has on the human body.
How the Body Reacts to Magnesium Ingestion
Magnesium is necessary for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is a cofactor in many types of enzymatic reactions. The chemistry of this nutrient makes it essential for many crucial physiological functions, and it is required in relatively large amounts.
When ingested through food or supplementation, magnesium affects blood vessels in the brain. When the body is deficient in magnesium, neurotransmitter release and vasoconstriction can cause headaches. Those who experience migraine headaches often have lower levels of serum and tissue magnesium.
Another medical study revealed that magnesium can help prevent migraines in women that are triggered by menstrual periods. The ratio between serum ionized and ionized magnesium plays a role in headache development when an inadequate amount of magnesium is consumed.
Foods with a High Magnesium Content
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average American diet does not provide the recommended amount of magnesium, and young girls and older men are most likely to become magnesium deficient. Fortunately, there are many healthy foods that have high levels of magnesium and are part of a balanced diet. To reduce the risk of headaches, these foods should be incorporated into daily meals.
- Dark leafy greens, like spinach and kale
- Fish, like halibut
- Nuts and seeds
- Soybeans and soy milk
- Low-fat yogurt
- Dark chocolate
Some doctors have recommended combining magnesium supplements with vitamin B2 and an herb called feverfew to prevent and treat headaches. However, it is important to note that magnesium can interact with certain medications taken for blood pressure, heart health, muscle relaxers, and antibiotics. Consultation with a doctor is recommended to avoid adverse interactions when taking magnesium supplements and over-the-counter headache medications like Vanquish.
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