Could Migraines in Children Be a Vitamin Problem?
As a naturopath, it is my tendency to look at external influences that might explain a particular illness or malady rather than approaching patients with a ‘treat the symptoms only’ mindset. So imagine my interest in a study presented at the American Headache Society in San Diego on June 10 (2016) suggesting that migraines in children may be due to vitamin deficiency. If future studies confirm the findings, this could be big news for a lot of kids and their families.
The study in question has not yet been peer-reviewed or published. Nonetheless, its findings are intriguing. Doctors Andrew Hershey and Suzanne Hagler of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center conducted the study and co-wrote the subsequent report. What they found lines up with what naturopaths believe about diet, natural body balance, and illness.
Vitamins and Headaches
Migraines are especially troubling because it is so difficult to figure out what triggers them. In some people, certain foods are almost guaranteed to create a migraine headache. In others, migraines seem to come on randomly and with no particular rhyme or reason that can be charted. Hershey and Hagler suspected that perhaps migraines are not as difficult to figure out as we suspect.
Their study looked at vitamin levels in kids who visited their clinic complaining of migraine pain. They discovered that some 42% of their adolescent patients suffering from migraines had riboflavin levels at or below recommended levels. Their research also showed that 71% had lower than recommended levels of a vitamin coenzyme known as CoQ10 and 91% had lower than recommended levels of vitamin D.
Hershey and Hagler’s research definitely creates a link between migraine headaches and vitamin deficiencies in children. One potential theory explaining the link may be reduced energy at the cellular level as a result of the deficiencies. However, their research does not point to any specific causation at this time.
Healthy Eating and Supplementation
The obvious recommendation that comes out of this study is to make sure children are eating properly and, when necessary, taking vitamin supplements on a regular basis. We already know that vitamin deficiencies can lead to other kinds of illnesses – as well as chronic pain – so it is not beyond reason to think that maybe migraines are somehow linked to vitamin deficiency.
Developing a healthy diet for the entire family could be the first and most important step in eliminating childhood migraines. A healthy diet should include a complete variety of fruits and vegetables that provide the vitamins and minerals children need. As they say, concentrate on color. The more color selections you have in your fruits and vegetables, the more vitamins and minerals you are getting.
Parents should ask their doctors about vitamin supplementation prior to making any decisions there. Tell your doctor about your family’s current eating habits so that he or she knows what to recommend. For some families, a daily multivitamin might do the trick. Others may need to concentrate on specific vitamins.
As a naturopath, I would not at all be surprised if future studies confirm that childhood migraines are the direct result of vitamin deficiency. Over the years, America has developed some very poor eating habits that have given rise to numerous health conditions. It is possible that just changing how your family eats could make a big difference in bringing an end to disabling migraines.