Alongside Botox for my migraines, and vestibular physiotherapy for those symptoms, I have found that taking certain supplements to be very helpful. Below are the supplements that I currently take, either everyday or when my body needs a little more help, and a short explanation as to why I was advised to take them by my specialist doctors.
If you feel that you might benefit from taking any of these supplements or using the products then it is important to first consult with a doctor or other healthcare provider.
It is the case that a lot of people, both healthy and not-so-much, are deficient in vitamin D here in the UK, as well as in the US and across the northern hemisphere. We tend to absorb most of our vitamin D from sunlight between late March / early April and the end of September. In the UK sunlight doesn't contain enough UVB radiation in winter to allow us to make vitamin D. I often test as deficient for vitamin D and so have to take a supplement, increasing and then decreasing the dose as per my doctor’s suggestion. Vitamin D3 is especially useful to me as I have osteopenia, and it helps the body absorb calcium. When my levels are particularly low then I take the BetterYou 3000 spray as it is a higher dose, plus it is one less pill to swallow! Also comes in a lower dose of 1000iu.
Vitamin D is also a good option for most people who suffer with fibromyalgia. Studies have found that people with fibromyalgia are lower in vitamin D than those who do not have the condition. Another study found that there is a correlation between fibromyalgia and vitamin D, with the optimisation of vitamin D levels having a positive effect on the perception of pain. It has even been suggested that there is 'credible evidence that vitamin D can be a determinant factor for fibromyalgia'. Simply put, this appears to suggest that low levels of vitamin D could be implicated in the onset of the condition. Given those findings, I will continue to take my vitamin D everyday!
For traditional tablets, I have taken these brands, and like both of them:
If you prefer an oral spray, which is my preferred option at the moment, and which is a good option if you have issues with malabsorption, my doctor highly recommended the BetterYou range of sprays. The vitamin D comes in both a higher strength of 3000iu, which I take during the winter and a lower 1000iu, which I will take during the summer months when, hopefully, the sun will be shining!
Quercetin can be effective for people with mast cell disorders, such as mast cell activation syndrome or other histamine issues, and has been highly beneficial for me. I take it everyday without fail and it has reduced my typical mast cell activation symptoms of flushing and itching of the skin. Solgar is my go-to brand for most supplements, and it is the Solgar quercetin complex that I use. For more information on the use of quercetin for mast cell and histamine issues, then you may find my blog post on quercetin useful.
Magnesium is often recommended for people with migraine, as a higher proportion of people with this condition are deficient. Various studies have shown that magnesium may be useful for headache prevention, and that it plays an important role in menstrual migraine in particular. The Migraine Trust's overview of supplements, here, has helpful information on the benefits of magnesium for migraine. Thankfully I am not actually deficient in magnesium according to recent tests, but several doctors have recommended that I take a supplement to help keep my levels up, and also to help with GI issues and the absorption of calcium as I have osteopenia. Solgar is the brand that suits me best, and often recommended by my various doctors.
Solgar Gentle Iron 20mg is the only iron supplement that I have been able to tolerate. It is non-constipating and I haven’t had any stomach issues from taking it. It comes in vegetarian-friendly capsules, which is also helpful for me personally. Initially I tried to address my low iron levels just with food. I do believe that if we are lacking in a particular vitamin or mineral then food is our best source. But as a vegetarian that has to follow a low fodmap and low histamine diet, it proved impossible to get my iron levels up sufficiently from food alone. Since taking these tablets my levels have returned to normal, which is a big weight off my mind.
Solgar's gentle iron, which contains iron bisglycinate, is, as the name suggests, more gently on the stomach. Ferrous fumarate, which is the form I was prescribed by my primary care doctor, can often be constipating. Since switching to gentle iron, I haven't had any GI issues at all from iron supplementation. I can't recommend this product enough! It is always advisable to avoid tea and milk at the same time as taking iron supplements as they reduce its absorption, but taking vitamin C supplements or a vitamin C rich drink or food at the same time can have a positive effect.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
Vitamin B2 is a supplement that I take when needed for migraine. The dose I was advised to take by a neurologist specialising in migraine and headache is 400mg per day (starting at a lower dose and then increasing over time). As set out by The Migraine Trust, in the only study solely looking at the efficacy for migraine, statistically significant reductions in migraine frequency and number of headache days were reported. The participants took 400mg for 3 months, with 59% of participants reporting at least a 50% reduction in migraine attacks, compared with 15% for placebo.
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
In addition to riboflavin, my neurologist also recommended that I take CoQ10 for migraine. He advised to take 600mg per day. Please speak with a doctor prior to taking this supplement. The Migraine Trust reports on several studies of CoQ10 that show it is a good preventative for migraine, although it can take 5-12 weeks for a significant reduction in migraine attacks.
Everyday I make sure to take about 1000mg of vitamin C, sometimes more depending upon my symptoms at the time. My immunologist recommended this amount due to my having MCAS and vitamin C being a natural anti-histamine. I also take vitamin C as iron is more readily absorbed in its presence. There are some brands that combine vitamin C and iron into one capsule, tablet or liquid, which is very handy. I don't have one particular 'go-to' brand of vitamin C and have used lots of different ones over the years. Some of these are:
Iron and vitamin C:
Pink Himalayan Salt
Not actually a supplement, but as someone with low blood pressure and orthostatic hypotension, adequate intake of salt is a key aspect of my treatment. It's always what my cardiologist tells me to consume more of! Salt goes in everything from porridge for breakfast to my evening meal, as well as smoothies and snacks. For years I just used regular table salt, but my sodium levels were still too low. One of the main reasons for this was the taste of table salt. It is, well, very salty tasting . . . I simply couldn't stand the strong taste and it made me feel sick to consume a lot of it. Then I discovered, on recommendation from a nurse, pink Himalayan salt and it has been a game-changer. This type of salt is more pure than other forms, less processed and, crucially for me, doesn't taste (in my opinion) as salty as regular salt. If you are using massive quantities then you will still get a strong salty taste, but for me personally, I find I have to use a lot for this to happen.
Please follow the advice of your doctor as to all medical treatments, supplements, and dietary choices, as set out in my disclaimer. I am not a medical professional, and this is simply my story and the resources that are helpful to me. This post, as well as all other posts on this blog, are for informational purposes only. All readers of the blog should follow the advice of their doctors and other medical professionals as to the appropriate treatment for any medical conditions. This post, and all others, are not intended to advocate for, or encourage, the use of a low histamine diet, particular supplements, foodstuffs or products, or act as medical advice in any way. I accept no liability for any harm, whether direct or indirect, or inconsequential, for the use of any information given on this blog. Readers' use of the information on this blog is at their own risk.