People in IL Have More Headaches & Less Vitamin D

Posted on: February 10th, 2017

It’s true, living as far north as the Chicagoland area puts residents at an unavoidable risk for low Vitamin D levels and chronic tension and migraine type headaches. A research article I read recently had a very interesting summary of this phenomenon, and I wanted to share that with our blog readers. This is valuable information since the solution is so simple! This article demonstrates:


  1. The prevalence of both tension and migraine headaches becomes higher the further that you live from the equator.
  2. Low Vitamin D levels are associated with headache, general pain, and fatigue.


Latitude and Headache

Don’t worry, I didn’t have latitudes memorized when I first read this either. The equator represents¬†0 latitude, and the latitude increases towards either pole. For reference, the US/Mexico border roughly lies 30 degrees north, and Chicago lies 41 degrees north. This article reviews many studies that examined how frequently people experienced headaches relative to their geography. They produced an interesting graph that clearly shows that people who live near the equator experience less headaches than those who live further north. The US/Mexico border (30 degrees north) seems to be a threshold, and people living further north experience significantly more headaches.

Headache and Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that our bodies produce in response to UV light. A simple blood test is able to measure levels in the body, but there is debate about what the “normal” concentration should be. However, levels less than 25 nmol/L is considered to be a true deficiency,¬†and levels between 25-50 or 25-75 are considered¬†insuffecient or low. One of the reasons that low Vitamin D has been associated with headaches is that headaches follow a seasonal pattern; they are more common in the winter than the summer. Studies have also correlated headache intensity and frequency with Vitamin D levels in the blood, and people who are Vitamin D deficient are at a higher risk for headache and general pain.

Supplementing with Vitamin D

The great news is that Vitamin D supplementation is cheap and easy. Vitamin D is measured in International Units, or IUs. Supplementing with 1000 IU per day will (generally) raise blood levels 20-25 nmol/L, and 2000 IU per day will raise levels 40-50 nmol/L. So most people will require between 1000-4000 IU per day.

Vitamin D is a great supplement because it is easily absorbed by mouth (it doesn’t need to be injected), and it is easily produced at high purity, so it is very affordable. Vitamin D is commonly taken as a gel cap or added to a beverage as a liquid. At Align Wellness Center, we prefer the Vitamin D drops, and sell them here in our office. A single bottle will last for many months and can be added to virtually any food or drink (like morning juice or a protein shake).

Certain medications may be affected by Vitamin D, namely ones for blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It is recommended that you speak with your pharmacist before supplementing if you take medications.

You can also order a Vitamin D supplement from our online store through Metagenics, using the code “alignwc”. Our online store can be found at:


Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is linked to more frequent and more intense headaches, as well as general pain and fatigue. Living in the Chicagoland area is, unfortunately, a less-than-ideal latitude for producing sufficient Vitamin D naturally. Luckily, Vitamin D supplementation is cheap, easy, and effective. Pick up a bottle next time you are in the office, or feel free to email us with any questions!


Dr. Ryan Winslow

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