Study Identifies Dietary Nutrient Patterns Linked With Migraine Severity, Duration

Researchers identified a link between migraine characteristics and diets rich in certain nutrients.

Results of a cross-sectional study identified relationships between dietary nutrient patterns and intensity and duration of migraine headache among female migraineurs. Findings were published in British Journal of Nutrition and suggest dietary nutrient patterns should be monitored closely in individuals suffering from migraine, the authors wrote.

A disorder of the endogenous pain modulating system, sensitivity to hemostasis alteration, and vascular changes have all been explored as potential roots of migraine pathology. However, “although migraine may originate from hereditary causes, various other internal and external conditions, such as daily diet, certain foods, alcohol, hormonal fluctuations, stressful situations, and lifestyle may affect the intensity and duration of migraine,” the researchers explained.

Previous research has also largely focused on the role of individual foods in migraine, while less attention has been paid to the impact of dietary patterns. To address this knowledge gap, investigators assessed the relationship between dietary nutrient patterns and duration of migraines among 266 women in Iran.

“Nutrient patterns can provide a prospective view between total food intake and disease, where consideration is given to the impact of all dietary nutrients,” the authors wrote. “In addition, studying dietary and nutrient patterns can also encompass both the food synergy and nutrients' interactions.”

All study participants were aged 18 to 50 years and had body mass indices between 18.5 and 30.0 kg/m2. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire was used to assess physical activity, and dietary intake was assessed via the food frequency questionnaire. In addition, Nutritionist-IV software was used to analyze data, while dietary macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals were computed from total intake.

To assess migraine intensity, the researchers employed the Migraine Disability Assessment (MIDAS) questionnaire and Visual Analog Scale (VAS). Fifteen nutrients were selected for factor analysis and used to extract 3 dietary patterns. Specifically, “the first nutrient pattern consisted of calcium, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, and magnesium. The second nutrient pattern included vitamin B1, carbohydrate, vitamin B3, vitamin B9, protein, and total fiber. The third tertile included vitamin D and vitamin B12.”

Analyses revealed:

  • A significant positive relationship between the second pattern and VAS in the crude model (β: 0.27; 95% CI, 0.00-0.53; P= .05), which remained significant in a model adjusted for all confounders (β: 0.37; 95% CI, 0.13-0.61; P < .001)
  • An inverse relationship between MIDAS and the first nutrient pattern (β: –2.80; 95% CI, –5.20 to –0.41; P = .02), which remained in an adjusted model (β: –3.14; 95% CI, –5.47 to –0.81; P = .01)
  • Duration of headaches were positively related with second and third pattern; this remained after adjusting for confounders in all models tested
  • No statistically significant association between other nutrient patterns and VAS and MIDAS and pain duration

The current study confirms the importance of identifying triggers for the management of migraine and underscores how the consumption or avoidance of specific dietary nutrient patterns could impact disease severity, researchers said.

However, the cross-sectional design of the analysis precludes any causal inferences from being drawn, marking a limitation to the study. Future prospective longitudinal studies are warranted to better elucidate the association between dietary nutrient patterns and migraine characteristics, they concluded.


Bahrampour N, Mirzababaei A, Yarizadeh H, et al. The relationship between dietary nutrients patterns and intensity and duration of migraine headaches. Br J Nutr. Published online January 17, 2022. doi:10.1017/S0007114522000046

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