When you have a headache, taking an over-the-counter medication is usually the standard treatment.

But sometimes, these medications are ineffective.

Not to mention, even if a pharmacy sells a drug over-the-counter, it can still have side effects.

Natural remedies have less side effects and often treat the source of your headaches, rather than just temporarily alleviating the pain.

One natural option to try is magnesium for headaches.

What Is the Mineral Magnesium?

Magnesium is a mineral you ingest from foods, such as the following:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Seeds
  • Soy products

A majority of the magnesium in your body is in your bones.

The mineral also plays a role in the production and transportation of protein and energy. In addition, it aids in transporting energy, and your nerves need it to function. Your body requires magnesium for your muscles to function and your heart rhythm to remain steady.

What Happens When You Have a Magnesium Deficiency?

This particular mineral is the fourth most abundant mineral in your entire body, and when you lack an adequate amount of it, you could experience a wide range of symptoms, such as:

  • Irregular heart rhythm
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramping
  • Muscle contractions
  • Tingling

In some cases, you may experience headaches or migraines if you lack magnesium.

How Is Taking Magnesium for Headaches Beneficial?

Some research indicates people experience a low magnesium level during migraine attacks.

Magnesium is necessary for some nerve function, which is why researchers think magnesium benefits those with headaches.

The body needs magnesium for calcium absorption, which means if you don’t receive an adequate amount of magnesium, you might not process other minerals like calcium fully. Ultimately, this could result in headaches since a calcium deficiency can contribute to headaches.

It’s possible for a magnesium deficiency to cause headaches because it stimulates serotonin to flow rapidly, which in return, constricts your blood vessels. Once these vessels constrict, your body produces chemicals that cause pain, including headaches. When you take in enough magnesium, you’re preventing the pain-producing substances from flowing and generating pain.

Research shows a connection between low magnesium levels and high blood pressure. When you have high blood pressure, it’s possible you’ll experience headaches when your blood pressure elevates too high.

Therefore, by lowering your blood pressure, you can reduce the prevalence of headaches, in particular, those caused by hypertensive crises.

Studies show a relationship between migraine headaches during menstruation and low magnesium levels.   

What Research Says About Using Magnesium for Headaches

A significant amount of research shows people who suffer from migraines frequently have lower levels of magnesium when compared to those who obtain a normal amount of magnesium.

One study published on the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website discovered that a regular intake of magnesium decreased the frequency of migraines a person experiences by 41.6 percent.

During a controlled, double-blind study conducted on people who suffered from migraines, taking a high-dose of magnesium worked as a preventative medicine for migraines.

One group received 600 mg of magnesium every day over a period of 12 weeks while the other group took 485 mg. The group who took the higher dosage experienced reduced occurrence of headaches by 41.6 percent, compared to the other group who only had a 15.8-percent reduction in headaches.

When researchers evaluated the magnesium levels in people with migraines versus those who didn’t have migraines, the ones who had migraines had an average magnesium level of 1.86 mg/dl while those without headaches had a magnesium level of 2.10 mg/dl.

Is Taking Magnesium for Headaches Safe?

Taking magnesium for headaches is generally safe.

However, some people who take it do experience side effects. The most common include vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. 

Magnesium does have the potential to lower your blood pressure, and if you already have low blood pressure, taking a magnesium supplement may lower it too much. If you take too much magnesium, it could lead to an irregular heartbeat, slowed breathing, low blood pressure, or even coma.

It’s safe to take magnesium if you’re pregnant and experience headaches. However, you should always consult with your physician before taking magnesium to ensure it’s safe for you.

How Much Magnesium Do You Need for Headaches?

You should always consult with your physician before using magnesium to determine the ideal amount for you based on your health. Typically, your doctor will recommend between 400 to 500 milligrams of magnesium per day.

Of course the best way to know how much you should take is by doing a blood test to measure for deficiency. The more deficient you may be, the more you need to take to restore your level to normal.

Is There Anyone Who Shouldn’t Take Magnesium for Headaches?

You shouldn’t take a magnesium supplement if you have kidney disease or kidney stones. Likewise, you shouldn’t take magnesium for headaches if you have heart disease.

Magnesium has the potential to interact with certain medications. For instance, if you take digoxin, which has the potential to decrease its effectiveness.

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