Consuming foods rich in folic acid can help manage migraines, says a new study from Australia.
Research in the past has shown that taking folic acid supplements can reduce migraine symptoms. However, it was not clear whether the dietary folate can provide similar effects.
In the new study, Professor Lyn Griffiths and colleagues from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia looked at 141 women suffering from migraine with aura.
Migraine is a headache disorder where headache, nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light appear together.
In migraine with aura, according to the migraine trust, certain warning signs like memory changes, confusion, fear, changes in sight, speech and hearing problems, fainting, partial paralysis, memory changes, numbness, and dizziness, appear before a migraine episode.
The study involved analysing dietary intake of folate in the participants and differences in their migraine symptoms.
Researchers found that frequency of migraines went down in participants who followed a diet rich in folate.
"We could observe that folic acid intake, from dietary folate, among the study's women was significantly related to migraine frequency," lead researcher of the study Professor Griffiths said in a news release. "We also showed that a particular MTHFR gene mutation can modify the effect."
The study has been reported in journal Headache.
Folic acid is widely recognised for its health benefits. It is needed for the proper growth of tissues and functioning of cells; and to avoid anaemia. A folate deficiency, according to Medline Plus, can make a person at greater risk of developing peptic ulcer, gray hair, diarrhoea, mouth ulcer, swollen tongue and poor growth.
A deficiency of folate in pregnant women has been linked to birth defects (cleft lip and palate, anencephaly) in babies. Receiving proper levels of folate while in the mother's womb can protect children against autism and childhood cancer.
Some natural sources of folate include legumes, citrus fruits and leafy dark vegetables.