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Zinc and Migraine Relief : Latest Research and Dietary Recommendations

Migraine is a prevalent and often debilitating neurological disorder that affects over a billion people worldwide, with a higher prevalence among females and most commonly occurring between the ages of 20 and 49. These recurrent headaches are characterized by moderate to severe pain, typically on one side. They are accompanied by symptoms like nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and can last for hours.

Various triggers, often associated with inflammation, can precipitate migraines, including stress, skipped meals, lack of sleep, weather changes, and certain odors. However, recent research suggests that zinc, a common element found in seafood, animal diets, and over-the-counter supplements, may have a protective effect against migraines, potentially reducing the risk of experiencing these debilitating headaches. Let’s see what this new research has found on using zinc for migraine relief.

What Does Research Say About Zinc for Migraine Relief?

A recent study published in the journal Headache in January 2023 examined 11,088 adults (50% female, average age of participants being 47 years) to evaluate the relationship between zinc consumption and migraines. Within the last three months, 20.2 percent of participants experienced migraines. The researchers discovered that an average daily intake of 15.8 mg of zinc reduced the risk of migraines by 30 percent compared to those consuming 5.9 mg or less per day. Furthermore, individuals who consumed higher amounts of zinc (19.3 to 32.5 mg daily) through supplements experienced a 38 percent reduction in migraine risk.(1)

Previous studies have also shown promising results regarding other supplements and migraine prevention. In women with migraines, a combination of vitamin B12 and magnesium supplements along with high-intensity interval training effectively reduced the frequency of monthly headaches by blocking an inflammation signal pathway.(2)

Similarly, women who took 300 mg of alpha-lipoic acid supplements daily were also found to experience fewer, less severe, and shorter duration migraine episodes compared to matched controls.(3)

Another study demonstrated that adults with migraines who took 2000 IU (50µg) of vitamin D3 supplements daily for 12 weeks reported fewer, less severe, and shorter duration migraines compared to those taking a placebo.(4)

It is important to note that the recommended daily intake of zinc is 9.5 mg per day for men and 7 mg per day for women, and most individuals typically obtain sufficient amounts through a healthy diet. However, certain groups such as vegans, vegetarians, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and adults over 65 may require zinc supplementation.

While these findings suggest a potential benefit of zinc and other supplements in migraine prevention, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before initiating any new supplementation regimen, as individual needs and considerations may vary.

How To Add More Zinc To Your Diet?

Keeping the results of the study in mind, if you suffer from chronic migraine headaches, it is not a bad idea to try to increase your intake of zinc and see the results for yourself. Zinc is a vital mineral that plays a crucial role in maintaining overall good health. It is involved in the functions of over 300 enzymes and is essential for various important processes in the body. Zinc is responsible for metabolizing nutrients, supporting immune system function, and facilitating the growth and repair of body tissues.(5)

Unlike some other minerals, your body does not store zinc, so it is important to consume an adequate amount of zinc daily to meet your body’s requirements. For men aged 19 and older, the recommended daily intake is 11 milligrams (mg) of zinc, while women in the same age group require 8 mg. During pregnancy, the recommended intake increases to 11 mg per day, and for breastfeeding women, it is recommended to consume 12 mg of zinc daily.(6)

Ensuring sufficient zinc intake through a balanced diet is essential to support overall health and well-being. However, specific needs may vary based on individual factors, so consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized guidance on meeting your daily zinc requirements.

Here are some excellent sources of zinc you can consider. 

  1. Meat

Meat, including red meat, is an excellent source of zinc. Various types of meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork, provide ample amounts of this essential mineral.

For example, a 100-gram (3.5-ounce) serving of raw ground beef contains approximately 4.79 mg of zinc, which accounts for 43.5% of the Daily Value (DV) for men and 59.9% of the DV for women. Alongside zinc, meat offers a range of other beneficial nutrients. This serving size provides about 176 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fat. Additionally, meat is a notable source of iron, B vitamins, and creatine.(7)

It is important to be mindful of the consumption of red meat, especially processed meat, as excessive intake has been associated with a higher risk of heart disease and certain cancers. However, by limiting processed meat intake and incorporating unprocessed red meats into a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and fiber, concerns regarding these risks can be mitigated.(8,9) 

  1. Shellfish

Shellfish are highly nutritious and serve as healthy, low-calorie sources of zinc. Among shellfish, oysters stand out as an exceptional zinc-rich option. Six medium-sized oysters provide a substantial amount of zinc, with approximately 33 mg, contributing to 300% of the Daily Value (DV) for men and 412.5% of the DV for women.(10)

Other varieties of shellfish also offer notable amounts of zinc, although slightly lower than oysters. Alaska king crab, for instance, contains 7.62 mg of zinc per 100 grams (3.5 oz.), providing 69.3% of the DV for men and 95.3% of the DV for women.(11)

Smaller shellfish, including shrimp and mussels, are notable sources of zinc. A 100-gram (3.5-oz) serving provides about 15% of the Daily Value (DV) for men and close to 20% for women. For pregnant individuals, it’s advisable to seek medical advice before adding shellfish to their diet. 

  1. Nuts and Peanuts

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to incorporate zinc into your diet to get migraine relief is through nuts and peanuts. Nuts and peanuts are good sources of zinc due to their natural zinc content and nutrient density. They provide a range of health benefits beyond zinc, including healthy fats, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Cashews, almonds, pine nuts, and peanuts, in particular, are rich in zinc.(12,13)

Nuts and peanuts can be enjoyed in various ways and can be incorporated into different dishes and recipes. However, it’s important to note that the bioavailability of zinc from plant-based sources may be lower. Soaking or roasting nuts can help enhance zinc availability.

Potential Side Effects of Excessive Zinc Intake

While zinc plays a crucial role in numerous biological functions and is essential for overall health, consuming it in excessive amounts can lead to adverse health effects. It’s vital to strike a balance between obtaining adequate zinc for its health benefits and avoiding excessive intake. 

  1. Acute Symptoms of Zinc Overdose: Ingesting large amounts of zinc in a short period can lead to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches.
  2. Chronic Exposure To High Zinc Levels: Over time, consistently consuming too much zinc can lead to lower immunity, lower levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, and disruptions in the absorption of other essential minerals, like copper.
  3. Neurological Issues: An excess of zinc has been linked to neuropathy, particularly in high and prolonged exposures. 
  4. Interaction with Medications: High levels of zinc can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and metabolize certain medications, including antibiotics and diuretics.
  5. Copper Deficiency: Excessive zinc can compete with copper for absorption in the digestive system, potentially leading to a deficiency in copper. Symptoms of copper deficiency can include anemia, weakened immunity, and neurological symptoms.

To ensure optimal health benefits without the risks of overconsumption, it’s always advisable to stick to the recommended daily intake of zinc and consult a healthcare professional if considering supplementation, especially if taken in larger doses or for an extended period.


New research has shown zinc as a potential supplement for migraine relief. Research suggests that adequate zinc intake may reduce the risk of migraines. Studies have also indicated that consuming higher amounts of zinc, either through dietary sources or supplements, can potentially reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines. However, it is important to note that individual responses to zinc supplementation may vary, and more research is needed to establish the optimal dosage and effectiveness for migraine relief.

While zinc-rich foods like meat, shellfish, nuts, and peanuts can contribute to meeting daily zinc requirements, supplementation may be necessary for individuals who have specific dietary restrictions or are at risk of deficiency. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, including zinc, to ensure appropriate usage and dosage.


  1. Liu, H., Wang, Q., Dong, Z. and Yu, S., 2023. Dietary zinc intake and migraine in adults: a cross‐sectional analysis of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2004. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 63(1), pp.127-135.
  2. Matin, H., Taghian, F. and Chitsaz, A., 2022. Artificial intelligence analysis to explore synchronize exercise, cobalamin, and magnesium as new actors to therapeutic of migraine symptoms: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Neurological Sciences, 43(7), pp.4413-4424.
  3. Kelishadi, M.R., Naeini, A.A., Khorvash, F., Askari, G. and Heidari, Z., 2022. The beneficial effect of Alpha-lipoic acid supplementation as a potential adjunct treatment in episodic migraines. Scientific reports, 12(1), p.271.
  4. Ghorbani, Z., Togha, M., Rafiee, P., Ahmadi, Z.S., Rasekh Magham, R., Djalali, M., Shahemi, S., Martami, F., Zareei, M., Razeghi Jahromi, S. and Ariyanfar, S., 2020. Vitamin D3 might improve headache characteristics and protect against inflammation in migraine: a randomized clinical trial. Neurological Sciences, 41, pp.1183-1192.
  5. Cheng, Y. and Chen, H., 2021. Aberrance of zinc metalloenzymes-induced human diseases and its potential mechanisms. Nutrients, 13(12), p.4456.
  6. Office of dietary supplements – zinc (no date) NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed: 15 July 2023).
  7. Fooddata Central Search Results (no date) FoodData Central. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174030/nutrients (Accessed: 15 July 2023).
  8. Bernstein, A.M., Song, M., Zhang, X., Pan, A., Wang, M., Fuchs, C.S., Le, N., Chan, A.T., Willett, W.C., Ogino, S. and Giovannucci, E.L., 2015. Processed and unprocessed red meat and risk of colorectal cancer: analysis by tumor location and modification by time. PloS one, 10(8), p.e0135959.
  9. (No date) Potential health hazards of eating red meat – wiley online library. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/joim.12543 (Accessed: 15 July 2023).
  10. Fooddata Central Search Results (no date a) FoodData Central. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1099132/nutrients (Accessed: 15 July 2023).
  11. Fooddata Central Search Results (no date a) FoodData Central. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/174202/nutrients (Accessed: 15 July 2023).
  12. Chen, G.C., Zhang, R., Martínez-González, M.A., Zhang, Z.L., Bonaccio, M., van Dam, R.M. and Qin, L.Q., 2017. Nut consumption in relation to all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a meta-analysis 18 prospective studies. Food & function, 8(11), pp.3893-3905.
  13. van den Brandt, P.A. and Schouten, L.J., 2015. Relationship of tree nut, peanut and peanut butter intake with total and cause-specific mortality: a cohort study and meta-analysis. International journal of epidemiology, 44(3), pp.1038-1049.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 18, 2023

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