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Fish Oil Diet Can Reduce Likelihood Of Monthly Migraines

July 8, 2021 by Alexa Hornbeck

A recent NIH-funded study finds that the frequency and intensity of monthly migraines declined among those on a higher fish oil diet.

Researchers from the National Institute on Aging, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, parts of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published their findings in the British Medical Journal this past week.

A neurological disease, migraines are one of the most common causes of chronic pain, lost work time, and lowered quality of life, with more than 4 million people worldwide experiencing chronic migraine at least 15 days per month. 

The researchers of the study recruited 182 adults with frequent migraines, who underwent a 16-week dietary intervention in which participants were randomly assigned to one of three healthy diet plans. Each participant received meal kits including fish, vegetables, hummus, salads, and breakfast items. 

One group received meals which had high levels of fatty fish or oils and lowered linoleic acid, which is a polyunsaturated fatty acid usually derived from corn, soybean, and similar oils like nuts and seeds.

The second group received meals with high levels of fatty fish and higher linoleic acid, and the third group received meals with high linoleum acid and lower levels of fatty fish.

The number of migraine days were monitored for each participant, including duration and intensity, and how their headaches affected their ability to function at school, work or in their social lives, and their need for pain medications.  

They found that the diet lower in vegetable oil and higher in fatty fish produced between 30% and 40% reductions in total headache hours per day, severe headache hours per day, and overall headache days per month when compared to the control group. Blood samples from this group also showed lower levels of pain-related lipids. 

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