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Information on the latest vitamin D news and research.

Find out more information on deficiency, supplementation, sun exposure, and how vitamin D relates to your health.

New study finds low vitamin D levels may be related to migraines

Research published in International Journal of Clinical Practice has found that vitamin D status and factors of vitamin D metabolism are related to migraines but that vitamin D status does not relate to certain headache characteristics.

Migraines are a type of moderate to severe headache that is reoccurring and is associated with other symptoms in the nervous system. It is thought that the development of migraine attacks is somehow related to inflammation in the nerves and blood vessels in the body.

Research on vitamin D’s role in migraines and headaches is limited and inconsistent, with some studies showing a positive association and others showing no association. That being said, it has been shown extensively that higher vitamin D levels help reduce inflammation and therefore it might have a role in the development of migraine attacks.

Researchers out of Turkey recently conducted a study to determine if vitamin D is associated with migraines.

Since the literature on this is relatively scarce, the researchers wanted to observe certain compounds involved in vitamin D metabolism, such as vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP) and vitamin D receptor (VDR). They wanted to see how concentrations of these compounds related to migraines and migraine characteristics.

To assess this potential relationship, the research team recruited 52 patients who were recently diagnosed with migraines and 49 participants to serve as a control group.

They took blood samples from both groups to determine and compare concentrations of vitamin D levels, VDBP, and VDR.

Within the migraine group, the researchers evaluated headache characteristics including aura (symptoms experienced before the headache begins), severity, frequency, and duration.

The researchers were interested if vitamin D levels, VDBP, or VDR differed between the groups and if vitamin D status was related to any of the headache characteristics.

Here is what the researchers found:

  • Serum vitamin D and VDR levels were significantly lower in patients with migraines compared to the control group. Concentrations of VDBP did not differ between the two groups.
  • In a multiple model analysis, vitamin D and VDR levels were each found to be independently associated with migraines.
  • There was no relationship between the three vitamin D markers and any headache characteristics.

The researchers concluded,

“Based on the present findings, we may suggest that decreased serum vitamin D levels were associated with migraine.”

This study has a few limitations worth mentioning. The study included a small sample size from a specific region in central Turkey, meaning that these results cannot be generalized to larger populations elsewhere in the world.

Also, the majority of the patients with migraines had vitamin D levels above 30 ng/ml. The results may have been different if the study looked at a population with a higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.

Finally, the observational design of the study means that we cannot know for sure the role that vitamin D plays in migraines and if low vitamin D levels cause migraines.

Future research should explore why VDR concentrations are lower in patients with migraines and if there are any mechanisms underlying VDR and the development of migraine attacks. Furthermore, larger trials are needed to see if vitamin D plays a direct role in migraines and if supplementation helps manage or reduce symptoms of migraines.


Celikbileck, A. et al. Serum levels of vitamin D, vitamin D-binding protein and vitamin D receptor in migraine patients from central Anatolia region. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 2014.

  About: Jeff Nicklas

Jeff Nicklas was a staff member for the Vitamin D Council from October 2013 to January 2015. He is now pursuing his passion for public health through graduate studies.

2 Responses to New study finds low vitamin D levels may be related to migraines

  1. There are 11 articles on headaches at VitaminDWiki
    Several of the studies point to low Magnesium also being a factor.
    Large dose Vitamin D (combined with Omega-3, Mg, etc.) has been found to cure 80% of Cluster headaches
    http://www.vitamindwiki.com/Migraine+and+Vitamin+D has a good overview
    Note: A recent migraine study in Turkey which found not difference in vitamin D levels between those with and without headaches. Because: everyone in the Turkish study had low vitamin D – all about 15 ng

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  2. eve83 says:

    I came across this article as I was googling if migraine and vitamin D are associated. I started to experience intense headaches for the first time in my life while weightlifting (while the most intense one hit while I was only stretching!!), so they seemed like exertion headaches from what I read. My neurologist’s initial thought was migraine after the exam and other information given. I’ve just gotten an MRI and blood test and haven’t had my follow up yet but test results came out today and my vitamin D appears to be 1,48 ug/l, so very low. I should also mention this coincidence that I happen to live in the very same city in central Turkey where the study in the referenced article has taken place.

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