Frequent headaches: what if it’s simply magnesium deficiency?
All of us have suffered from headaches at least once in our lifetime, and the symptoms can vary in type, frequency and intensity. Headaches, scientifically known as cephalea, affect over seven million people in Italy and can be divided into two types: Primary and secondary.
How many types of headaches exist?
Primary headaches do not have a known origin, as causes mainly stem from environmental factors, diet and/or inadequate lifestyles. Secondary headaches, on the other hand, derive from the presence of an illness that causes the actual headache (for example sinusitis, trauma, incorrect diet, premenstrual tension, alcohol abuse, etc.).
Primary headaches are divided into three groups:
- migraine with or without aura: in migraines, the pain is mainly throbbing and normally affects one half of the head, accompanied by nausea or vomiting, photophobia and phonophobia, fatigue, sweating and problems concentrating.
- tension headaches: in tension headaches the pain is widespread on both sides of the head and the consequence of muscular tension in the neck area (cervical spine) and shoulders, for example due to incorrect posture, or psychological factors, such as a stressful period. Pain in this condition is persistent but not throbbing, with mild to moderate intensity;
- cluster headache: in the case of a cluster headache, the pain is very intense, even if short-lived, and affects a specific area of the head, most frequently between the eye and ear (temporal zone).
Remedies for migraines and headaches: Anti-inflammatory medication and magnesium
When we suffer from a headache, we often resort to the use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS), which help us to control the pain symptoms and limit all the consequences associated with this condition. But for those who frequently suffer from headaches, apart from becoming a debilitating condition from many social and personal points of view, the continuous and frequent use of anti-inflammatory drugs exposes the body to a number of adverse effects, which could significantly harm our health.
In some cases, it is possible to limit the use of anti-inflammatory drugs by attempting to prevent the occurrence of headaches. It has been noted that subjects with an increase in neuron excitability, due to a low concentration of magnesium in the cerebrospinal fluid, are more likely to develop migraines; therefore, the use of magnesium is a common practice and recommended in the prevention of migraines.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant cation in our body, and acts as a co-factor for over 300 enzyme reactions required for many biological functions in our body. The largest quantity of magnesium is found inside hydroxyapatite crystals, inside the bone tissue, contributing to bone strength and rigidity.
How does magnesium act on the Central Nervous System and on headaches?
Magnesium participates in the excitability of nerves and muscles, and a deficiency of this mineral is associated with the syndrome of neuron excitability, with numerous symptoms, one of which is migraine. In fact, magnesium acts as an antagonist of an excitatory neurotransmitter, namely glutamate, responsible for the electric pulse in cells.
Scientific literature cites many clinical studies published in support of the relation between magnesium deficiency and headaches.
In one study of 1996 – but still valid today -, conducted by Peikert et al., 81 subjects were examined, who suffered from migraines, randomly split into two groups: The first group took 600 mg magnesium and the second group took a placebo. It was demonstrated that the subjects who took magnesium showed a reduction in pain and frequency of migraine attacks compared to the placebo group.
Another study, conducted on 20 women suffering from premenstrual tension, equally divided into two treatment groups (magnesium vs placebo) showed that the women who took magnesium showed a significant reduction in the frequency of headaches and pain.
An important aspect to be considered when deciding whether to start taking magnesium to prevent migraines and headaches is the fact that magnesium supplements have very few adverse effects. This advantage enables the safe use of magnesium also in the long term and on large scale, from early adolescence to old age.
UltraMag® is a supplement based on magnesium oxide, which exploits Sucrosomial® technology: Here the mineral is conveyed in a matrix of phospholipids and sucrose esters of fatty acids, which enables high absorption of magnesium and optimal gastrointestinal tolerability. The daily dose of magnesium in UltraMag® is 375 mg, which corresponds to 100% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). For this reason we recommend taking one sachet a day dissolved in a glass of water, at any time of the day.
- Jeanette A. Maier, et Al.; Headaches and Magnesium: Mechanisms, Bioavailability, Therapeutic Efficacy and Potential Advantage of Magnesium Pidolate. Nutrients 2020, 12(9), 2660.
- Salamat, S.; Ismail, K.M.K.; O’ Brien, S., Premenstrual syndrome. Obstet. Gynaecol. Reprod. Med. 2008, 18, 29–32.
- Walker, A.F.; De Souza, M.C.; Vickers, M.F.; Abeyasekera, S.; Collins, M.L.; Trinca, L.A., Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. J. Women Health 1998, 7, 1157–1165.
- Peikert, A.; Wilimzig, C.; Kohne-Volland, R., Prophylaxis of migraine with oral magnesium: Results from a prospective, multi-center, placebo-controlled and double-blind randomized study. Cephalalgia 1996, 16, 257–263.
- Peters, J.A.; Hales, T.G.; Lambert, J.J., Divalent cations modulate 5-HT3 receptor-induced currents in N1E-115 neuroblastoma cells. Eur. J. Pharmacol. 1988, 151, 491–495.