Reduce Migraine Frequency with Zinc

Reduce Migraine Frequency with Zinc

by Ashleigh Feltham Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist

Reduce Migraines with Vitamin D and Omega 3Reduce Migraine Frequency with Zinc

Migraines are more than just a bad headache. The pain a migraine causes can confine sufferers to a silent, dark room for days. The Mayo Clinic defines a migraine as ‘a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.’

There are a number of factors that cause a migraine; one that you may not have considered is less than optimal levels of zinc. The mineral zinc is a micronutrient – we need micronutrients in small amounts every day. The macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.

Zinc is needed for many important functions including supporting optimal functioning of our innate and adaptive immune systems – it helps our bodies fight off viruses. Zinc is also needed for many parts of the chemical changes that are needed for essential processes to take place in our cells. We need zinc for DNA and protein synthesis, and even our sense of taste perception.

On top of these impressive roles, having adequate zinc levels may also help reduce migraine frequency. A recent study investigated if there was a relationship between migraine and zinc levels.

Researchers used data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 1999 and 2004. The amount of zinc in the diet of the participants was determined in a 24-hour dietary recall method. This is when the participant would self-report what foods and beverages they had consumed in the last day or two.

There was a total of 11,088 participants; of these, 20% were migraine sufferers. Researchers concluded that those participants who had the lowest amount of zinc in their diet – equal to or less than 5.9mg a day – had a greater chance of experiencing a migraine compared to those who had 6-15.8mg a day of zinc.

Reduce Migraines with Vitamin D and Omega 3As a result of these findings it was concluded that zinc may have a protective effect in reducing your risk of experiencing a migraine. The researchers predict that it is the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of zinc that may help reduce your likelihood of experiencing a migraine.

Men over the age of 19 are recommended to have 11mg of zinc daily and women 8mg of zinc daily in their diet.

The best sources of zinc are oysters, beef, crab, fortified cereal products, pumpkin seeds, oats, pork, and turkey breast. Other good sources of zinc include eggs, cheese, shrimp, lentils, sardines, Greek yoghurt, milk, peanuts, brown rice, kidney beans, and whole wheat bread.


Sardine red onion chilli vinaigrette

Take home message

There are many factors which may be the cause of a migraine. One to consider is your zinc intake. An overall balanced and varied diet is a key strategy to ensure you are meeting your daily needs before reaching for supplements.

Seafood Experts nutrition banner


  1. Liu H, Wang Q, Dong Z, Yu S. Dietary zinc intake and migraine in adults: a cross-sectional analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999-2004. Headache. 2023 Jan;63(1):127-135. doi: 10.1111/head.14431. Epub 2023 Jan 1. PMID: 36588459.
  2. Mayo Clinic
  3. Zinc Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.
  4. Quantitative study designs. Deakin University Library. 

, , , ,

Comments are closed.