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An increased folic acid intake may reduce migraine risk

February 6, 2015

A new study from Australia suggests that higher intakes of folic acid seem to decrease the frequency of migraine in women, especially in those with elevated homocysteine levels. 

Based on data from an earlier randomized controlled trial (1), the dietary folate intakes and the frequency and severity of migraine attacks with aura were analyzed among 141 adult females with a history of migraine (2). The study results showed that women with higher folate and folic acid intakes had a significantly lower frequency of migraine attacks with aura compared to the women with lower intakes. In participants with elevated blood levels of homocysteine due to a genetic variation of the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene (relevant for homocysteine metabolism), migraine frequency was strongly related to the intake of the more bioavailable folic acid.

The scientists commented that folic acid, vitamin B6 and B12 supplementation have been previously shown to reduce migraine disability, frequency, and severity in patients with migraine with aura (3). Moreover, the B group vitamins are crucial coenzymes in the maintenance of homocysteine blood levels (4). Elevated homocysteine levels have been shown to be an independent risk factor for cardiovascular disease as well as being associated with endothelial dysfunction. Although alteration in vascular function and cerebral blood flow has been identified in people suffering from, the exact role vascular dysfunction plays in migraine development is yet unknown (5).

References

  1. Menon S. et al. Genotypes of the MTHFR C677T and MTRR A66G genes act independently to reduce migraine disability in response to vitamin supplementation. Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2012; 22:741–749.
  2. Menon S. et al. Effects of Dietary Folate Intake on Migraine Disability and Frequency. Headache. Published online January 2015.
  3. Lea R. et al. The effects of vitamin supplementation and MTHFR (C677T) genotype on homocysteine-lowering and migraine disability. Pharmacogenet Genomics. 2009; 19:422–428.
  4. Silaste M. L. et al. Polymorphisms of key enzymes in homocysteine metabolism affect diet responsiveness of plasma homocysteine in healthy women. J Nutr. 2001; 131:2643–2647.
  5. Moschiano F. et al. Homocysteine plasma levels in patients with migraine with aura. Neurol Sci. 2008; 29(Suppl. 1):S173–S175.