Vitamin B6 + folate combination may lower migraine risk: Study

By Claudia Adrien

- Last updated on GMT

A migraine headache is a widespread neurological disorder affecting over one billion people worldwide. @ South_agency/Getty Images
A migraine headache is a widespread neurological disorder affecting over one billion people worldwide. @ South_agency/Getty Images

Related tags Vitamin b6 folate vitamin deficiency migraine

At increased levels, vitamin B6 and folate have a synergistic relationship in lowering the risk and possibly preventing migraines, according to an analysis that appeared in Nutrition Research.

The study explored the relationship between dietary vitamin B6 and folate intake on severe headache or migraine in adults in a general population using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2004, which was administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although studies have investigated the effects of vitamin B6 and folate independently on migraine suffers, “few studies have examined the association between vitamin B6 and folate with migraine in the general population,” wrote researchers from Nanchang University in China. 

The researchers added: “Based on the dietary patterns found in this population, we hypothesized that there was an inverse relationship between dietary consumption of vitamin B6 and folate and severe headache or migraine.”

A migraine headache is a widespread neurological disorder affecting over one billion people worldwide of whom approximately 45 million live in constant pain. Migraine prevalence in the United States is approximately 18% in women, 7% in men and is most frequent in individuals under the age of 50.

A high dosage

This study included cross-sectional data from NHANES participants aged 20 years and older. A total of 7,017 people participated in this study, 1,350 of whom were migraine sufferers.

The data include a series of cross-sectional, stratified, multi-stage probability surveys of the population (non-institutional) in the US. The NHANES collected relevant examinations, interviews and questionnaires through home visits and a mobile examination center to assess the health and nutritional history of the US.

Participants took a high mass of vitamin B6 and folate (vitamin B6 intake of at least 2.39 mg/day and folate intake of 502.01ug/day or more), helping the researchers to determine that there was a negative association with severe headache or migraine when taken at those levels.

“Other studies have revealed that diet and nutrition are highly associated with migraine,” the researchers said. “Therefore, exploring the effects of specific nutrients might facilitate preventing and treating migraine.”


There are several factors that may impact whether a migraine occurs.

Vitamin B6 is a critical cofactor in the metabolic pathway of homocysteine, an amino acid. Scientists suggest that disruption of the neurovascular endothelium caused by elevated homocysteine levels could result in migraine.

“Moreover, a study of female Caucasian Australians suffering from migraine reported that compared to placebo, vitamin B6 supplementation significantly reduced homocysteine levels and alleviated headache severity and degree of disability in migraineurs,” the researchers added.

It is suggested that homocysteine metabolism depends on the presence of the cofactor folate. Homocysteine levels tend to be elevated in the presence of a folate deficiency.

“A previous study revealed that 95 migraine patients supplemented with folate and pyridoxine in their diet for three months experienced a significant reduction in migraine severity and the frequency and duration of headache,” the researchers wrote.

In addition, folate is an essential nutrient that supports mitochondrial energy metabolism linking migraines to mitochondrial function. Mitochondrial dysfunction has been observed in migraine patients.

Source: Nutrition Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2023.11.008
“Vitamin B6 and folate intake are associated with lower risk of severe headache or migraine in adults:an analysis based on NHANES 1999-2004”
Authors: Sheng Tian et al.

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