10/8/07 #4 - Magnesium or other supplements for exercise-triggered Migraines?

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  • Full Question:
    Hello, I am writing from Tampa, Florida. I am an avid cyclist, and have not been deterred by the above 90's temperatures until recently, when I have had 2 migraines in one week. I have been getting migraines since before high school and I have been able to pinpoint them to three common causes. 1. Stress, 2. Dehydration and 3. Excess Cocoa (Dark chocolate).

    My typical treatment is, as soon as the blind spots appear, take to extra strength Tylenol and a two hour nap and I am able to function without pain.

    I do a fair amount of exercise during the week. A typical week is Monday, Wednesday and Friday - 3 - 6.5 mile run, Tuesday/Thursday - 2 hour bike ride. And every other weekend, 50-80 miles on the bike.

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    I usually drink over a gallon of water when I ride during the week and about 2 gallons during the weekend rides. During and after my runs, I will drink around 30-50 oz. of water and/or Gatorade. So, I try to stay hydrated as best as I can.

    This past Tuesday, I had the second of back to back migraines. I'll wake up at 5:30/6:00am and my head is pounding as if I am getting over the first, and then I get blind spots again, and the second one sets in. Today, I had a power gel on my bike ride that apparently had more cocoa in it than I expected, and the migraine set in about an hour and a half after the ride.

    Is there something in my diet that I am possibly lacking that I can get through supplements that will help reduce the occurrence of these migraines? Lately, they all seem to be associated with exercises and/or dehydration. I, generally stay away from the cocoa (after today, I swearing it off).

    I've read something about magnesium. Could this be it and are there others that might be more likely?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. And, yes, to begin with, I will be cutting back on the exercise while the weather is what it is here in Florida. The heat has been pretty bad lately.

    Thanks in advance, Christopher.





    Dear Christopher;


    A couple of points on your triggers -- If you know dark chocolate is a trigger, why not avoid it altogether? Is it worth the possible Migraine to you? It's good to see you say you're going to just eliminate it.


    There's some controversy about whether stress is an actual trigger or if it's an exacerbating factor that makes us more susceptible to our triggers just as it makes us more susceptible to the virus that causes colds. For those who think stress is a trigger for them, we recommend keeping a very detailed Migraine diary for a while, paying special attention to possible triggers during periods of stress. Many people who thought stress was a trigger for them have found that they encounter triggers during stressful times that they may not encounter much during other times. Watch for things such as missing meals, not sleeping well, crying, etc.


    Magnesium is a fairly effective preventive for some people as are Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin B2. However, "natural" or not, these substances act as drugs in the body, and you should always consult your physician before using them. If supplements don't help prevent the exercise-triggered Migraines, your doctor should be able to prescribe something that will help.


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    Good luck,
    John Claude Krusz and Teri Robert


    If you need to find a headache and Migraine specialist, please see our listing of patient recommended specialists.


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    Dr. Krusz is a recognized expert in the fields of headache and Migraine treatment and pain treatment. Each week, he and Lead Expert Teri Robert, team up to answer your questions about headaches and Migraines. You can read more about Dr. Krusz or more about Teri Robert.


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Published On: October 08, 2007