The high frequency of magnesium deficiency witnessed in those who suffer from migraines is deeply rooted in research.

magnesium migraineMagnesium levels are decreased by many factors which include stress, alcohol abuse, high estrogen levels, low progesterone, certain medications, hyperthyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism. Insufficient dietary intake of magnesium is probable in 75 percent of the U.S. population, and magnesium deficiency known to be the most common mineral deficiency, embodied in a diverse range of associated pathologies. Physiological and psychological stress produces a deficiency of magnesium, and both constant and intense stress are related with increased episodes of migraines.

Solid documentation connecting low magnesium levels to both migraine and tension headaches lie in the medical literature. Very little brain and tissue magnesium concentrations have been found in people with migraines, signifying a need for supplementation. Among magnesium’s main functions are maintaining vascular tone and avoiding neuronal hyper-excitation. Positive results with magnesium supplementation have been demonstrated in preventing migraines, particularly in people who have low levels of magnesium.

Low tissue levels of magnesium are typical in people with migraines, but most cases are overlooked because doctors generally rely on serum magnesium levels to evaluate magnesium status. Because the majority of the body’s magnesium is located in the cells, serum levels are inaccurate indicators. A low magnesium level in the serum usually means late-stage deficiency. More sensitive tests of magnesium status involves the magnesium levels in red blood cells and ionized magnesium, the most physiologically active form.

The theory that people with a sharp migraine episode and low serum levels of ionized magnesium are more prone to respond to an intravenous infusion of magnesium sulfate than others with higher serum ionized magnesium levels have been tested. Serum ionized magnesium levels were resolved immediately before infusion of 1 g magnesium sulfate in 35 patients with an intense migraine. A reduction in pain of 50 percent or more, as measured on a migraine intensity verbal scale of 1 to 10, happened within 15 minutes of infusion in 30 patients. In 21 patients, this improvement or relief from the migraine persisted for 24 hours or more. Pain relief lasted at least 24 hours in 86 percent of patients with serum ionized magnesium levels below 0.54mmol/l and in 16 percent of patients with ionized magnesium levels at or above 0.54mmol/l. The average ionized magnesium level in patients whose relief lasted for at least 24 hours was much lower than in patients who felt a brief or no relief.

Another potential benefit of magnesium supplementation in preventing migraines may be its capability to prevent mitral valve prolapse. Mitral valve prolapse is associated with migraines because it results in damaged blood platelets, causing them to dispense vasoactive substances such as histamines, platelet-activating factor, and serotonin. Since studies have shown that 85 percent of people with mitral valve prolapse have chronic magnesium deficiency, magnesium supplementation is implemented. This recommendation is supported additionally by several studies showing that oral magnesium supplementation enhances mitral valve prolapse.

Magnesium bound to citrate, malate, or aspartate is better absorbed and more accepted than inorganic forms such as magnesium sulfate, hydroxide, or oxide, which is likely to produce a laxative effect. If magnesium supplementation causes diarrhea or loose stool, cut back to a level that is adequate. Also, it would be best to add at least 50 mg of vitamin B6 to your diet daily, as this B vitamin has been shown to increase the concentration of magnesium within cells.

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