According to the American Migraine Foundation, approximately 36 million Americans (about 12% of the population) suffer from migraine headaches as well as approximately 370, 000 adult Canadians and 2.2 percent of the global population. Given the vast number of individuals effected world-wide by this debilitating ailment, it is imperative that more research is done to uncover adequate treatment strategies and recommendations.
Former research has alluded to the fact that magnesium may play a major role in the pathogenesis and treatment of migraine headaches and has been correlated with hypo-magnesmia. Specifically, low levels of Magnesium induce cerebral arterial vasoconstriction, increase the aggregation of platelets and thus promote serotonin release, and potentiate the vasoactive action of serotonin (Trauninger et al, 2002). Magnesium deficiency has also been associated with decreased control of NMDA glutamate receptors and the production of cortical spread depression (CSD), which is responsible for the aura preceding many migraines. Substance P, one of the molecules released to produce the sensation of pain, is also released as a result of magnesium deficiency (Innerarity, 2000).
Interestingly, although Magnesium is an essential intracellular cation and is involved in numerous physiological processes, routine blood tests do not reflect true body magnesium stores since less than 2% is in the measurable, extracellular space, 67% is in the bone and 31% is located intracellularly (Mauskop, 2012). For this reason, magnesium deficiency is often overlooked and therefore more light needs to be shed on its functional role in the pathogenesis of migraine headaches. Magnesium is an essential element and is needed as a co-factor for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body (Medline). It controls normal adenosine triphosphate function, glucose metabolism, nucleic acid synthesis, and a variety of other cellular functions (Mauskop, 2011). It also has involvement in skeletal and cardiac muscle function, cytoskeletal contraction, control of vasomotor tone, and neurotransmitter release.
Given the mechanism of action of magnesium, it may be helpful to assist with the neurogenic inflammation involved in the occurrence of a migraine and used prophylactically to prevent it from occurring. This is an ever-growing body of knowledge and many studies are highlighting its efficacy of use and it’s value as a natural intervention with regards to migraine reduction, especially since it holds such a high safety profile. Studies demonstrating the significant effect of magnesium was at a dose of 600mg daily for 12 weeks. Remember however, to always consult a physician before beginning treatment.
As always, diet is paramount in meeting our health needs. The following foods hold not only a high magnesium content but also contain numerous other health benefits. They include: Almonds, Cashews, Dates, Brazil Nuts, Pepitas, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and Flax Seeds.Photo credit : www.naturopathnsw.com.au
WHAT TYPE OF MAGNESIUM SUPPLEMENTATION TO TAKE
Supplementation is often important because we don’t acquire enough through food. With current farming and inorganic practices, many foods become depleted in the nutrients that they hold. Therefore, it has become very mainstream to supplement even along with a proper diet. Practices like taking long term medications (which are very common these days), frequent alcohol consumption, and using oral contraceptives are also responsible for actually depleting magnesium stores in the body.
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