Migraines are painful and debilitating, and they impair your ability to function normally. Fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, may help to alleviate some effects of this condition. Including fish oil in your diet may lead to decreased frequency, severity and duration of migraine headaches.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients obtained from food sources. Omega-3 fatty acids are centralized in the brain and are important to brain development and cognitive functioning. These fatty acids also reduce inflammation and blood-clotting, lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
L-Tyrosine & Migraine Headaches
The National Headache Foundation (NHF) reports that 29.5 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches 1. Migraines may be preceded by an aura, characterized by visual disturbances, dizziness and/or tingling sensations.
Migraines begin as the result of inflammation of blood vessels in the brain, triggered by the release of certain chemicals. The University of Maryland Medical Center considers several factors to play a part in the development of migraine headaches.
Effects of Fish Oil on Migraines
B12 & Migraines
Omega-3 fatty acids may have a positive effect on the incidence and severity of migraine headaches. For example, a study conducted at the University of Cincinnati found that nine out of 15 migraine sufferers who took fish oil supplements experienced a decrease in the number and intensity of headaches. In a similar 2002 study reported in the "Journal of Adolescent Health," researchers found that olive oil and fish oil supplementation lead to decreased frequency, duration and severity of migraine headaches.
- Omega-3 fatty acids may have a positive effect on the incidence and severity of migraine headaches.
- In a similar 2002 study reported in the "Journal of Adolescent Health," researchers found that olive oil and fish oil supplementation lead to decreased frequency, duration and severity of migraine headaches.
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil can be obtained from food sources and supplements. Food sources include coldwater fish, such as:
Other sources include walnuts, soybean, flaxseed and canola oils, and dark green vegetables such as
- Brussels sprouts
- salad greens
Omega-3 can also be found in fish oil and flaxseed oil supplements.
The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends adults consume 1,250mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day, the equivalent of two to three servings of fish per week. Pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding and children should not take fish oil supplements, unless they are directed to do so by their health care provider.
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- National Headache Foundation
- University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Department of Family Medicine
- Kris-Etherton PM, Harris WS, Appel LJ, American Heart Association. Nutrition Committee. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Circulation. 2002;106(21):2747-2757. doi:10.1161/01.cir.0000038493.65177.94
- Howard-Thompson A, Dutton A, Hoover R, Goodfred J. Flushing and pruritus secondary to prescription fish oil ingestion in a patient with allergy to fish. Int J Clin Pharm. 2014;36(6):1126-1129. doi:10.1007/s11096-014-0017-8
- Lenihan-Geels G, Bishop KS, Ferguson LR. Alternative sources of omega-3 fats: can we find a sustainable substitute for fish? Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1301-1315. doi:10.3390/nu5041301
- Peltomaa E, Johnson MD, Taipale SJ. Marine Cryptophytes Are Great Sources of EPA and DHA. Mar Drugs. 2017;16(1). doi:10.3390/md16010003
- Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, et al. Omega-3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;7:CD003177. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3
- Harris WS. Achieving optimal n-3 fatty acid status: the vegetarian’s challenge... or not. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014;100 Suppl 1:449S - 52S. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071324
- Mark BJ, Beaty AD, Slavin RG. Are fish oil supplements safe in finned fish-allergic patients? Allergy Asthma Proc. 2008;29(5):528-529. doi:10.2500/aap.2008.29.3159
- Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JHY, et al. Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;136(3):e1-e23. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510
Hillary Rolston began freelance writing in 2009. Her work has appeared on LIVESTRONG.COM, and areas of special knowledge include child and adolescent growth and development, and, in particular, the academic and emotional needs of children with disabilities. She is pursuing her Master of Arts and Education Specialist degrees in school psychology from the Citadel Graduate College.