Riboflavin, also known as Vitamin B2, has shown in some studies to reduce the frequency of migraines.  Because it results in few side effects, doctors say most patients can take the supplement without problem.

Riboflavin is commonly found in many foods, including dairy products, lean meats, green leafy vegetables, and nuts. The vitamin is integral to important body processes, including the production of red blood cells and extraction of energy from carbohydrates. The body doesn’t store riboflavin, making it necessary for people to ingest it from dietary sources.

Some studies have shown riboflavin helps to decrease the number of migraine episodes.

A study published in the European Journal of Neurology found patients taking 400 milligrams per day of riboflavin experienced fewer headaches. Migraine attacks frequency dropped from 4 days each month to 2 after study participants took the supplement for up to 6 months.

The study showed that patients experienced few side effects, leading researchers to declare it safe.

Meanwhile, a guideline update published in the journal Neurology categorized riboflavin as “probably effective” for preventing migraines, putting it in the same class as ibuprofen.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) ranks the supplement “possibly effective”—the second-highest rating—for preventing migraine headaches. NIH’s recommended dose is 400 milligrams per day. Taking the nutrient doesn’t seem to lessen pain from headaches once they strike, but could prevent them from happening in the first place.

Although early studies revealed riboflavin’s promise for helping migraine sufferers, they haven’t compared the vitamin to traditional medicine.

Scientists say more studies are needed.

Although research is conflicted, the best way to determine if riboflavin works is to try it out. People might try taking it for 8 weeks to see if the supplement helps their condition, says Dr. David Rakel, founder of the Integrative Medicine Program at Madison’s University of Wisconsin.

Although vitamin B2 is thought to be safe, talk to your doctor before trying it to reduce migraine frequency.

The supplement does interact with some medications, including tricyclic antidepressants, an anti-seizure drug called phenobarbital, and the gout medication probenecid, among others.

Have you tried riboflavin to reduce the frequency of migraine headaches?

Image by r. nial bradshaw via Flickr

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