Calcium’s Control on Serotonin Channels

Hi,

Much as Magnesium’s role in migraine management has been spoken about, Calcium has almost always figured as an also-ran. But Calcium intake, it’s effective metabolisation and absorption are just as important as Magnesium balance in your food.

Calcium is known to have anti-spasmodic action, which helps alleviate headaches and migraines. However, studies have shown that when calcium is administered along with Vitamin D, it reduces the frequency of migraines in a considerable number of patients .

Recent studies have also concluded that abnormalities in the channels within the cells that transport calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium contribute to the onset of migraines. The calcium channels are known to regulate the release of serotonin. With impaired functioning of the channels, serotonin may not be effectively released or may be released in low quantities. This would contribute towards migraine occurrences.

For Reader’s Interest – a related link: http://mcb.berkeley.edu/labs/zucker/PDFs/Wang_Neuron21,155.pdf

The RDA for Calcium in women of the age group 18- 50 is approximately 1000 mg and between 1000-1300 mg for pregnant and lactating women. For post-menopausal women the RDA is set at about 1500 mg.
Calcium absorption reduces with aging and is dependent on a variety of factors such as genetics, availability of Vitamin D, intake of Vitamin C among others.

However, any supplement or drug should be had with consultation with your physician. Self-medication is a dangerous practice and can have fatal outcomes.

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Trying Magnesium

About 2 years back, I stumbled upon magnesium’s big role in regulating calcium ion inflow to neuron cells, channelopathy in migraineurs and of course its spiral effect on the all important serotonin and eventually prostaglandin and a whole gamut of things that go on for a migraineur. By the way, migraineurs are generally defecient in magnesium. Run a blood test and find out if you are in this bracket.

In desperation, I calculated the approximate amount of magnesium I was getting from my diet and it was apallingly low! (Incidentally, magnesium absorption is also inhibited by the caffeine and alcohol intake). I started out on magnesium-calcium supplements for a month that gave me RDA values on both (esp magnesium at 400 mg a day). OK, now get this. I had an episode of migraine the following month but it was so much milder than usual. It arrived one day before I was to head out to London. My work didnt have to stop on the day I was travelling out to London. This was a big deal for me, as will be, I am sure, for many, many migraineurs. I would not have been able to do this without the supplements. Ever since, I have made magnesium a part of diet. I do go off it now and then by choice but I usually do take them and benefit from it immensely.

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De-mystifying Migraines In Women

I was struck by the statistics on migraineurs worldwide published by the WHO. Apparently, 303 million people the world over suffer migraines, out of which women account for 70% of the patients. India alone has 100 million sufferers and the US has 30 million patients. The report went on to add that it is estimated that 20 million migraine attacks happen everyday!!!! Staggering by any scale.

Though a lot of cutting edge research has been done, especially in the last decade to control this beast, scientific reports still grapple with unknowns, and are still clueless on issues such as why or how magnesium release regulates calcium ions in the neurons or why a certain chain of events takes place in the cranium that bring on migraines or even why they wind up.

With so much still in the grey, one wonders when and if help will come from drugs that will be safe to consume in the long run or if there are any strategies out there to shake this neurological disease.

In my book, ‘Migraines for the Informed Woman’, I have attempted to simplify the esoteric jargon of research papers and scientific material on migraines. After more than one decade of trying most therapies, I have come to the conclusion, that some work and others that are not as effective. More importantly, I have come to realise that certain mixes of therapies done simultaneously work wonders.

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