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.”