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Study shows link between vitamin D status and headaches

Posted on: September 28, 2012   by  Vitamin D Council


Research published in the journal Headache reports an association between low vitamin D status and headaches.

Past researchers have described an increasing incidence of both migraine and non-migraine headaches with increasing latitude, implying an association with vitamin D status. Since the vitamin D receptor is widespread in the brain, a link between D levels and headache has been previously speculated.

Researchers from Norway used data from the Tromso Study, “an epidemiologic prospective study of health problems and chronic diseases, and a resource for the surveillance of disease risk factors.”

There were 11,614 participants who fully completed 2 questionnaires explaining lifestyle tendencies and headache incidence and severity. Lower vitamin D levels were found in both non-migraine and migraine headache groups. Women had a higher incidence of all types of headaches.

After the authors adjusted for confounding variables such as BMI, exercise, alcohol consumption, and smoking status, they found low vitamin D status was associated with non-migraine headache, but not migraine headache. There was no significant difference between actual severity of headache and vitamin D status in the non-migraine group.

The researchers recognize possible confounders which include participant over or under-reporting of symptoms. Of course, they recognize the possibility of other factors accounting for the headache-vitamin D association,

“Due to the cross-sectional design of the study, no conclusions can be drawn with regard to causality for which intervention studies are needed.”


Kjaergaard M, Eggen AE, Mathiesen EB, Jorde R. Association between headache and serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D; the Tromso Study: Tromso 6. Headache. June 2012.

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