Do you suffer from migraines and anxiety? Well if that’s a yes then you’re not alone! New research from the University of Toronto has found that people with migraines are three times MORE likely to suffer with anxiety than people who do not. Both migraines and anxiety can be eased with certain vitamins and ingredients that are known for their brain health properties. We asked our experts for their top suggestions for busting pesky migraines and squashing any anxious feelings.
Omega 3 fatty acids can help decrease the severity of migraines. They are an effective anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce blood vessel inflammation within the brain. Omega 3’s can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Shona Wilkinson, nutritionist at Superfood UK, adds “Oily fish contains DHA, which contributes toward brain health; research has also shown that the omega three found in oily fish helps in reducing anxiety. Anxiety is something which is often peaking at the end of a busy day so by eating this omega rich meal you will be helping to support your body through this period.”
A recent study by the University of Eastern Finland found a link between Vitamin D deficiencies and migraines, but it is also know for helping boost your mood and banish anxiety due to the raised serotonin levels. Shona explains, “Bright daylight entering your eyes triggers serotonin production. Even on an overcast day, natural daylight is much brighter than artificial light indoors. Do what you can to maximise your natural light exposure, such as going for a run outside, to help boost those vitamin D levels.”
“To boost your vitamin D levels even further you can also try a supplement such as, Vega Vitamins Every Day D Spray (£5.95 vegavitamins.co.uk),” adds nutritionist, Cassandra Barns.
Coenzyme Q-10 is great for supporting brain health and has been found to ease both migraines and anxiety. It can be found in fatty foods like fish, beef, chicken and nuts.
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns, says, “CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance, present in every cell in our body and has been associated with helping to reduce headaches and migraines. Although the body makes its own CoQ10, some research suggests that these levels decrease from the age of 20 onwards. Try Quest’s Ubiquinol Qu10 (£20.81 qnutrapharma.com).”
In addition to Vitamin D, many migraine sufferers are also prone to have a deficiency in magnesium. Known as ‘nature’s tranquiliser’, it’s a magic ingredient for promoting sleep and anxiety! “Many of us live hectic, stressful lives and are more exposed to environmental and food toxins, which can make us more prone to a magnesium deficiency. To make sure you’re getting your daily dose I would recommend taking Natures Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules (£11.75 www.naturesplus.co.uk), which are easily absorbed and delivered to the tissues,” explains Cassandra.
Cut Out Sugar
If you’ve eaten a few many chocolates it can destablisise your sugar levels and trigger both migraines and anxious feelings. Dr Marilyn Glenville, the UK’s leading nutritionist and author of ‘Natural Alternatives to Sugar’ says, “Balancing blood sugar is essential in lowering stress because the crashes in sugar levels which happen through the day (due to long periods without food and not eating the right foods) stimulates the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol to be released. This is because these stress hormones, apart from helping you to run away from a tiger, can also mobilise your glucose (which has been stored as glycogen in the liver) back into the blood stream. This is why you can feel more jittery, irritable etc when blood sugar plummets!” She continues, “Ensure you have a small meal every 2-3 hours that contains protein (eat breakfast, lunch and dinner plus a snack mid morning and one mid afternoon). For example, a hard-boiled egg, 10-12 almonds, a small can of tuna and brown rice. This will stop those roller-coaster highs and cravings for sweet foods. Because your blood sugar isn’t allowed to drop, your body will no longer have to ask you for a quick fix. As your blood sugar steadies, so will your mood swings – reduced adrenaline levels will automatically make you feel happier and calmer inside and feel less stressed.”
Although most known for it’s de-stressing powers, Vitamin B has also been proven to reduce the frequency of migraines. Shona reveals, “We often can’t prevent the stresses of life, but we can influence our reaction to it. Take a B complex daily, as the B vitamins are water-soluble and if you’re not consuming them daily, through your diet and/or supplementation, you will just miss out on them. The B vitamins folate (B9), niacin (B3), thiamine (B1) and vitamin B6 (and also vitamin C) all contribute to normal psychological function, having an impact on how we feel.”
Drinking water is the oldest trick in the book! Sometimes the simplest tricks are the best and it’s no different when it comes to headaches and anxiety. Shona says, “We all know that keeping hydrated is vital for good health. Symptoms of dehydration can include headaches and migraines, but also dry skin, irritability, lack of concentration and dizziness to name but a few. The guidelines are for us to drink 8 glasses of water per day. However, we don’t need to get our intake from drink alone – foods can contribute towards our daily intake of water. “Try to included hydrating foods in your diet. For example, cucumbers are one of the top hydrating foods as they are thought to be composed of massive 96% of water. Try adding them to juices, or snacking on them.”