Prior research has shown vitamin D deficiency to be a common source of muscle pain and weakness. Now it seems we can add headache to that list. In fact, a recent study finds headache occurrence is 20% higher for those with the lowest levels of the vitamin. Vitamin D receptors are found in areas of the brain involved in the composition of headaches.
The current study includes 11,614 participants and is part of a larger study looking at health problems, chronic diseases, and the risk factors associated with those chronic diseases. The association between low levels of vitamin D and headache remains significant even after adjustments for other possible factors such as smoking and physical activity level. In addition, the study only established the link between low vitamin D levels and non-migraine type headaches.
Most of the vitamin D needed by humans does not come from diet. Exposure to sunlight causes people to synthesize 80 to 90% of the vitamin D the body needs. In the summer, the body stores vitamin D in adipose tissue for use through the winter. However, various research studies show supplementation and diet modifications create important improvements in people with deficiency-related conditions. In addition to foods that have been supplemented with vitamin D, foods naturally rich in vitamin D include:
- Mushrooms (150 to 168 IU): microwaving reduces vitamin D in mushrooms
- Ocean fish (Atlantic raw herring = 2061 IU)
- Freshwater fish (wild catfish = 1053 IU)
- Tofu (Vitasoy brand = 581 IU)
- Eggs (26 IU per whole egg with 25 of that in the yolk)
Source: Kjaergaard M, Eggen A, Mathiesen E, Jorde R. Association between headache and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D; the Tromsø Study: Tromsø 6. Headache, 2012; 52 (10): 1499-1505.