If you suffer from headaches on a regular basis, and you don’t consume alcohol and you get eight or more hours of sleep, the cause could be a nutritional deficiency.
I used to suffer from migraine headaches, until a few years ago, when I began supplementing my diet with magnesium. I have not had a migraine since. I do have ordinary headaches on occasion – when I stay up late and wake up early, come into contact with allergens, get drawn into asinine arguments with others, and spend too much time staring at my computer screen. This being the case, I doubt that magnesium is capable of preventing ordinary headaches.
Causes of tension headache
Ordinary headaches, which are usually tension headaches, can also be caused by nutritional deficiency. According to a study published in the journal Headache, “The prevalence of tension-type headache and vitamin D deficiency are both very high in the general population.”1 In their study, 8 patients with both chronic tension-type headaches and a vitamin D deficiency, and who had not responded to conventional treatment, did respond to vitamin D and calcium supplementation.
“The improvement in the headache was much earlier than the improvements in the symptom complex of osteomalacia.”1
(Osteomalacia is the softening of bones, due to a deficiency of Vitamin D and/or calcium.)
The patients in this study were given 1,000 to 1,500 IU Vitamin D and 1,000 milligrams of Calcium per day, and they reported either a marked improvement or a complete cessation of headaches during the four to six weeks they participated in the study. The study’s authors also speculated on the possible mechanisms for headache in patients with vitamin D deficiency.
Iron deficiency anemia is also known to cause headaches. This is because low iron levels lead to low hemoglobin concentration in your blood. Hemoglobin is the substance in your blood that carries oxygen, so you will suffer from a lack of oxygen if you are anemic. In turn, your tissues will not be able to adequately metabolize energy, which is what causes symptoms such as headaches and dizziness.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can also cause anemia, just a different type. Low vitamin B-12 impairs your body’s ability to make a sufficient number of healthy red blood cells. Without enough vitamin B-12, red blood cells cannot divide normally and are too large to exit the bone marrow (the sponge-like tissue inside our bones where blood cells are made). The condition is called pernicious anemia, and it ultimately leads to oxygenation problems and similar symptoms to other types of anemia, which includes headaches.
Folic Acid deficiency also causes a form of anemia, called folate deficiency anemia. Folic acid (also known as Vitamin B-9) is needed for the formation of heme, the pigmented, iron-containing portion of the hemoglobin in red blood cells (erythrocytes). An insufficient intake of folic acid impairs the maturation of young red blood cells, which results in anemia and symptoms that include headaches.
I should mention that folate deficiency anemia also causes Leukopenia – a deficiency of white blood cells, which has its own set of painful symptoms.
In addition, even if you eat a diet rich in folate you could become deficient due to celiac disease, anti-convulsant drug therapy, an inability to metabolize the vitamin due to cirrhosis of the liver, and even severe hemolytic anemia (dissolution of red blood cells by hemolysin) can prevent proper absorption of Folic Acid.
Natural treatments for headaches
If you can’t identify the possible cause(s) of your headaches, you may want to get tested for nutritional deficiencies. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to adjust your diet to include more of the foods that contain Vitamins B-12, Folic Acid, Iron, Vitamin D, and Calcium.
I have found, regardless of the cause, using one or more of these natural cures always works:
- Peppermint tea – You can buy it anywhere. Every grocery store I’ve ever entered sells it. Learn more about Peppermint herb here.
- Feverfew tea – You can buy it at many grocery stores, but all health food stores, and many online merchants sell this wonderful herb.
- Peppermint Essential Oil – Dilute a drop or two in ½ tsp base oil (grapeseed is great) and massage this aromatherapy treatment into your temples and neck.
I always use Peppermint first. It’s my favorite pain reliever; it usually gets the job done fairly fast, and it’s quite safe for most people. (Read my article to see who should avoid it). BUT if my headache is being stubborn, I will either use the aromatherapy oil (as described above) or drink a cup of Feverfew tea. Sometimes, I’ll just have a second cup of Peppermint tea. In any case, one or more of these three remedies always works for me. I hope you’ll have the same success with them that I’ve had.
1 Prakash S, Shah ND. “Chronic tension-type headache with vitamin D deficiency: casual or causal association?” Headache, September 2009. Web.
Miller SJ. “The Causes of Headache Symptoms With Low Vitamin D”. Livestrong.com, August 16, 2013. Web.
“Iron deficiency anemia”. Mayo Clinic, January 2, 2014. Web.
Kresser, Chris. “B12 deficiency: a silent epidemic with serious consequences”. ChrisKresser.com, May 6, 2011. Web.
“What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pernicious Anemia?” National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, April 1, 2011. Web.
“Blood Disorders (Anemia, Leukopenia, and Thrombocytopenia)”. Life Extension, n.d.. Web.