WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Dietary folate, a water-soluble B-vitamin, is naturally found many types of foods. Such foods include vegetables (dark green leafy vegetables especially!), fruits and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, poultry and meat, eggs, seafood, and fortified grains.1 Consuming foods rich in dietary folate can help migraine sufferers reduce the frequency of migraines.
DEFINING THE MIGRAINE
A migraine headache causes an “intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head” and is “commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound.” 2 Those who have personally experienced a migraine would likely shudder to dwell on the intense discomfort and head pain associated with this condition. Subtle but uncomfortable symptoms often develop one or two days before a migraine, signify an oncoming migraine’s impending arrival. Such symptoms include constipation, depression, food cravings, hyperactivity, irritability, neck stiffness and uncontrollable yawning precede the onset of a full-blown migraine.2
A person experiencing a migraine feels an overwhelming need to find a quiet place to escape the normal interactions, sounds and responsibilities of normal life. Migraines vary in length; ranging anywhere from 4 to 72 hours.2 Many chronic migraine sufferers experience a loss of productivity in work or academic pursuits.
FOLATE INTAKE & MIGRAINES: THE RESEARCH
If you’ve ever had a migraine, it’s likely that you’d take every reasonable measure to avoid going through the experience again. Recent research offers hope to migraines sufferers through the simple dietary modification: consume more dietary folate.
As stated above, folate is a B-vitamin found in many foods. In addition to naturally occurring sources of folate, many foods are now fortified with folate as a means to prevent neural tube defects. In the late 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began requiring manufacturers to add folic acid to enriched breads, cereals, flours, cornmeals, pastas, rice, and other grain products.1 As such, folate deficiencies are now uncommon in the United States and most Americans meet the dietary recommendation for folate intake.
A study published earlier this year highlighted the connection between dietary folate consumption and migraine headaches.3 Researchers collected information from 143 women in Australia who chronically suffered from migraines. Criteria to enter the study stipulated that the women must have been experiencing migraines for more than 5 years, a 1-year history of severe migraine episodes lasting 4-72 hours, and a family history of migraine. The women kept detailed diet diaries that were designed to focus on food sources that were rich in folate.
The study found that food folate (naturally occurring in foods) and folic acid (synthetic folate added to fortified foods and supplements) both helped contribute to decreased severity and frequency of migraines, especially among people with a particular genetic variant.
If you suffer from migraines, we recommend increasing consumption of folate-rich foods as a natural method of reducing the frequency and intensity of the condition. Spinach, liver, yeast, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are among the foods with the highest levels of folate.1 Many other foods have been fortified to now include folate, meaning that as you fill your diet with nutritious foods, you’re contributing to your daily folate needs.
Top 3 Vegetable Sources for Folate
- Potato Spinach Lasagna
- Spinach & Grapefruit Salad
- Sautéed Spinach with Turnips and Raisins
- Herbed Spinach Quiche
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Spinach
- Brussels Sprouts: Nutrition, Selection and Storage
- Brussels Sprouts with Mustard Glaze
- Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Brussels Sprouts
If you’re looking to figure out how much folate a packaged food includes, learn how to read a food label.
Video Center: Selection. Storage. Preparation.
How Many Cups Do You Need?
Key Nutrients in Fruits & Vegetables
Fruit & Veggie Database