According to a study from the University of Eastern Finland, there may be a higher risk of chronic headache from low vitamin D levels. The Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), published in the journal Scientific Reports, examined whether an association existed between low vitamin D levels (serum-25 hydroxyvitamin D) and the presence of long-term headache in a group of over 2,600 Finnish men ages 42 to 60 years during the period 1984-1989. The study found that 68% of this group had vitamin D deficiency, which is considered below 50 nmol/l. The study participants with the lowest serum vitamin D levels (below 29 nmol/l) had a risk of chronic headache that was more than double than that of the men with the highest concentrations of it.
An additional finding of this study was a greater incidence of chronic headache from low vitamin D levels in this population during the non-summer months. This is thought to be due to the lower levels of UV-B radiation from the sun during the other seasons. While there have previously been smaller studies that have seen an association between vitamin D deficiency and chronic headache, this larger study establishes a stronger link between the two.
The key treatment methods from this study include the importance of receiving adequate exposure to sunlight as well as sufficient vitamin D intake from food or supplements. Adherence to these recommendations can reduce or mitigate the risk of frequent and/or chronic headaches. So, how much outdoor exposure to the sun’s UV-B rays is recommended to maintain adequate serum concentrations of vitamin D? This depends on multiple factors such as the time of day, skin pigmentation and where you live. During the summer, experts generally recommend getting between 10 to 15 minutes of daily midday sun exposure without sunscreen on for your skin to manufacture enough vitamin D. If you have a deficiency in this vitamin, it is also recommended to speak with your doctor about a proper dosage of vitamin D3 supplementation as part of an optimal treatment strategy. Moreover, you can help to reduce the intensity and frequency of your headache/migraine symptoms by trying out some recommended behavioral and lifestyle modifications.
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How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? Vitamin D Council. (n.d.). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/#
Lampner, C. (2017, January 13). Vitamin D Levels Linked to Migraine in Men. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://www.neurologyadvisor.com/migraine-and-headache/low-levels-vitamin-d-risk-of-migraine-in-men/article/631436/
University of Eastern Finland. (2017, January 4). Vitamin D deficiency increases risk of chronic headache. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170104103543.htm