Chronic Headache Could Stem from Vitamin D Deficiency

Study results on the link between vitamin D and headache have a history of being ambiguous, but new research found more conclusive findings.

On a global scale, headache disorders impact nearly 50% of people, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While they may be common, pinpointing the appropriate treatment for each patient isn’t exactly simple. But new research indicated the importance of vitamin D in the painful condition.

This certainly isn’t the first time that researchers have examined the potential link between vitamin D and headache. Last year, a study presented at the American Headache Society’s 58th Annual Scientific Meeting in San Diego, California included nearly 7,500 patients and came back with inconclusive results on the relationship. Now a team from the University of Eastern Finland are taking a look.

A total of 2,601 men ages 42 to 60 were gathered from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (1984 to 1989). Blood samples were collected from the participants between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. after being told to abstain from food and smoking for 12 hours and alcohol for three days beforehand.

The average serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration was 43.4 nmol/l. Out of all the men, 68% had serum vitamin D levels below 50 nmol/l—which is typically considered vitamin D deficient. The men were asked, “Have you had headache during the previous 12 months?” Their four answer options were: “not at all,” “less than once per month,” “monthly,” or “weekly.” A total of 250 men (9.6%) answered “weekly.”

“When the study population as divided into four groups based on their serum vitamin D levels, the group with the lowest levels had over a twofold risk of chronic headache in comparison to the group with the highest levels,” a university news release said.

More men reported chronic headache if they were examined at any time outside of the months—which correlates with the fact that the sun is a main source of vitamin D. But even after adjusting the findings for age and month of sampling, those with the lowest levels had 116% higher odds for frequent headache.

Researchers from the university continue to study the link between vitamin D levels and disease risks, as well as pain conditions, with the Finnish Vitamin D Trial (FIND). The current five-year ongoing trial is expected to provide results on participants taking 40 or 80 micrograms of a vitamin D supplement per day.

The cross-sectional study, “Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with higher risk of frequent headache in middle-aged and older men,” was published in Scientific Reports. The news release was provided by the University of Eastern Finland.

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