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Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Migraine Frequency and Severity

Woman with a headacheImagine a simple dietary change that could significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Recent research suggests that increasing omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can do just that! This document summarizes these exciting findings, showing how incorporating more omega-3s can benefit not only those with migraines but anyone looking to enhance their overall health. Dive in to learn more about the powerful impact of omega-3s and how they might improve your well-being.

Overview of A 2021 BMJ Study

In 2021, the British Medical Journal published a study investigating the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on migraine frequency and severity. Conducted by Dr. Christopher Ramsden and colleagues, the study involved over 180 adults who experienced frequent migraines (5-20 days per month). The participants were divided into three groups, each following a different diet for 16 weeks to assess the impact of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats obtained through diet. Omega-3s, found in fish and some plant sources, have anti-inflammatory properties, whereas omega-6s, found in vegetable oils and processed foods, can promote inflammation when consumed in excess.


  • Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those also low in omega-6 fatty acids, significantly reduced the frequency and duration of migraines.
  • Participants on these diets experienced fewer total migraine hours per day and less severe headaches compared to those on a typical American diet high in omega-6 and low in omega-3.
  • The study suggested dietary changes might be more effective than supplements in managing migraines.

Additional Research on Omega-3s and Migraines

Several other studies have also explored the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and migraine relief, yielding supportive and varied results.

  1. NIH Study (2021): A comprehensive study by the National Institute on Aging and the University of North Carolina involved 182 adults with frequent migraines. Participants followed diets either high in omega-3 fatty acids from fish, low in omega-6 fatty acids, or both. The results showed a 30-40% reduction in total headache hours and the number of headache days per month in groups consuming more omega-3s. However, improvements in overall quality of life were minor​ (National Institutes of Health (NIH)) – ​​ (Medical News – | MedPage Today)​.
  2. NCCIH Review: The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reviewed multiple studies and found that higher intake of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) can reduce headache frequency and severity. This effect is potentially due to omega-3s’ anti-inflammatory properties and their ability to influence pain-regulating pathways. However, improvements in quality of life were not consistently significant​ (NCCIH)​. –
  3. Meta-Analysis and Other Trials: A review by Frontiers highlighted several trials with varying results. For example, some studies showed significant reductions in migraine frequency and severity with high doses of EPA and DHA, while others found no significant difference compared to placebos. Factors such as dosage, treatment duration, and patient demographics may influence these outcomes. Additionally, combining omega-3s with other supplements like nano-curcumin showed synergistic benefits in some trials​ (Frontiers)​. –


The body of research suggests that diets high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially from fish, can be beneficial in reducing the frequency and severity of migraines. While results vary across studies, the potential anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s appear to play a key role. Further research is needed to optimize dietary recommendations and fully understand the mechanisms by which omega-3s influence migraine relief.


  1. Ramsden, C. E., Zamora, D., Faurot, K. R., et al. (2021). Dietary alteration of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for headache reduction in adults with migraine: randomized controlled trial. British Medical Journal, 373, n1448.
  2. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2021). Diets Higher in Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Headache Frequency and Severity in People With Frequent Migraines. Retrieved from NCCIH –
  3. Frontiers. (2021). Neuroimmunological effects of omega-3 fatty acids on migraine: a review. Retrieved from Frontiers –
  4. MedPage Today. (2021). Migraine Frequency, Severity Drop Substantially With Diet Interventions. Retrieved from MedPage Today –

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