Josh Bowen: What is Causing Your Headaches?

joshHope everyone had a great weekend and is ready to attack Monday like nobody’s business. The year is flying by and the holidays will be here before you know. The time to be consistent and focused is important. What you do now, will effect what you do later.

We have all had headaches at some point or another in our lives. Some literal and some figuratively (haha). But what is a headache? And more importantly, what causes a headache?

A headache is not actually a pain within the brain, or the brain does not have pain sensors. The pain is caused by a disturbance to pain sensitive tissues around the brain. Nine areas around the head and neck have these pain sensors (cranium, muscles around the neck, eyes, ears etc.). There are also 200 different classifications for headaches but they fall into one of two categories; primary vs. secondary.

Primary headaches are benign, reoccurring headaches not caused by disease or structural problems. Secondary headaches are caused by underlying disease such as; colds, ear infections, tumors etc.).

The causes of headaches is not 100% known but there are some research studies to suggest that your nutrition has a vital role in: determining how often you get headaches, how severe the pain is and how long they last. Here are 4 common nutritional deficiencies that may be causing your headaches:

Magnesium and Folate

If you do not get the recommended 320 to 420 mg of magnesium per day, it could lead to migraine like symptoms. Magnesium helps the release of several neurotransmitters (ACH, dopamine) that are vital to movement and stress reduction. You can boost magnesium in your diet by eating more green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. Although it is rare, a deficiency in folate can lead to headaches as well. Unless pregnant or nursing, you should be getting 400 micrograms per day. Sources of folate are eggs, nuts, beans, and seafood.

Going Low Carb

We could argue at length about carbohydrates but going to too low carb for too long can lead to headaches. 20-50 grams of carbohydrates per day is considered “low carb” and can significantly increase the likelihood of getting headaches because the brain is not getting its preferred fuel source, glucose.

Vitamin A and Zinc Toxicity

Too much of any thing is a bad thing. Especially Vitamin A and Zinc. Vitamin A a fat soluble vitamin that if taken above the recommended levels can cause health concerns. 10,000 IUs per day is above the recommended dosages for Vitamin A, this can lead to headaches. Too much Zinc, 40 mg per day can also lead to headaches. Usually this is from over dosing on supplementation rather than from food sources.

Food Allergies

Being allergic to something can cause mild to severe headaches. Wheat, dairy, nuts, eggs etc. can cause severe headaches if eaten by someone with an allergy. Proper allergy testing would be recommended if headaches are a constant to see what you were allergic too and possibly taking it out of your diet.

Bonus!

Dehydration 

Becoming dehydrated can lead to severe headaches in people. It  is a way of your body telling you to drink water. Making sure you are getting over 100 ounces of water per day will keep you from being dehydrated especially in the hot sun.

Headaches are your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Look to your nutrition for the clues.

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