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Magnesium Supplementation for Migraines: Miracle or Medicine?

Sep 27, 2019

Most of us are all too familiar with the thumping pain of headaches due to over-work, hormonal fluctuations, dehydration or over-indulgence. However, migraines are a type of headache so debilitating that they are the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide. Migraine pain can be intense, can last for 4 to 72 hours and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Migraine slinked to magnesium deficiency

Magnesium deficiency has been reported in 50% of migraine sufferers. In migraines, low magnesium levels are associated with increased platelet aggregation, vasoconstriction, neural excitability, NMDA receptor activity and cortical depression spreading, as well as impaired serotonin receptor function and neurotransmitter production and release. Studies show magnesium supplementation is beneficial in reducing severity and frequency of migraines.

The research into magnesium citrate for migraines

Researchers have discovered that oral magnesium helps reduce the number and intensity of migraines. One form of magnesium in particular, magnesium citrate, reduced the frequency of migraines by 64% and the pain severity by 59%, with no significant side effects.  The suggested dosage rage from studies is 360mg-600 mg of elemental magnesium from magnesium citrate per day.  In another double-blind, randomised clinical trial, 600mg of magnesium citrate per day for 3 months reduced the frequency and intensity of migraines by 41%, compared to 15.89% in the placebo group.

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Modern diets lack magnesium

Research suggests we are not getting enough magnesium in our diet to meet the body’s needs. This might be due to an increased demand for magnesium during times of physical or emotional stress, because of acute or chronic illness, or due to our diet, lifestyle, and medications.

There are many different factors that can contribute to magnesium deficiency, so supplementing with a well absorbed form, such as magnesium citrate, is recommended as a safe and effective treatment for migraine sufferers.


Puledda F, Shields K. Non-pharmacological approaches for migraine. Neurotherapeutics. 2018;15(2):336-45.

Peikert A, Wilimzig C, Köhne-Volland R. Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia. 1996 Jun;16(4):257-63.

Further reading

  • Chiu HY, Yeh TH, Huang YC, et al. Effects of intravenous and oral magnesium on reducing migraine: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Pain Physician. 2016;19(1):E97-112.
  • Demirkaya S, Dora B, Topcuoglu MA, et al. A comparative study of magnesium, flunarizine and amitriptyline in the prophylaxis of migraine. 2000;1(3):179-86.
  • D’Onofrio F, Raimo S, Spitaleri D, et al. Usefulness of nutraceuticals in migraine prophylaxis. Neurol Sci. 2017;38(Suppl 1):117-20.
  • Puledda F, Shields K. Non-pharmacological approaches for migraine. Neurotherapeutics. 2018;15(2):336-45.
  • Sun-Edelstein C, Mauskop A. Role of magnesium in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine. Expert Rev Neurother. 2009;9(3):369-79.
  • Taylor FR. Nutraceuticals and headache: The biological basis. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain. 2011;51(3):484-501.
  • Teigen L, Boes CJ. An evidence-based review of oral magnesium supplementation in the preventive treatment of migraine. Cephalalgia. 2015;35(10):912-22.
  • Von Luckner A, Riederer F. Magnesium in migraine prophylaxis-is there an evidence-based rationale? A systematic review. Headache. 2018;58:199-209.
  • Vos T, Barber RM, Bell B, et al. Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990–2013: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. 2015;386(9995):743-800.

Clinical tool

Are your clients Magnesium deficient? If so, how deficient are they? Download the Magnesium Status questionnaire for your clients so you can assess their current magnesium intake status and assess whether a Magnesium supplement may be beneficial.


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