The Role of Vitamin D in Primary Headache-from Potential Mechanism to Treatment

Nutrients. 2020 Jan 17;12(1):243. doi: 10.3390/nu12010243.


Some studies have suggested a link between vitamin D and headache; however, the underlying physiological mechanisms are unclear. We aimed to summarize the available evidence on the relationship between vitamin D and the various subtypes of primary headaches, including migraines and tension-type headaches. All articles concerning the association between primary headache and vitamin D published up to October 2019 were retrieved by searching clinical databases, including: EMBASE, MEDLINE, PubMed, Google scholar, and the Cochrane library. All types of studies (i.e., observational, cross-sectional, case-control, and clinical trials) were included. We identified 22 studies investigating serum vitamin D levels in association with headaches. Eight studies also evaluated the effect of vitamin D supplementation on the various headache parameters. Among them, 18 studies showed a link between serum vitamin D levels and headaches, with the strongest connection reported between serum vitamin D levels and migraine. Overall, there is not enough evidence to recommend vitamin D supplementation to all headache patients, but the current literature indicates that it may be beneficial in some patients suffering headaches, mainly migraineurs, to reduce the frequency of headaches, especially in those with vitamin D deficiency.

Keywords: 25-hydroxy-vitamin D; cholecalciferol; cluster headache; headache; migraine; pain; tension-type headache; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Child
  • Female
  • Headache / blood
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Headache / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamins / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D