Dietary intake of thiamine and riboflavin in relation to severe headache or migraine: A cross-sectional survey



The purpose of this study was to identify the prevalence of severe headache or migraine and the association between dietary thiamine and riboflavin intake with headache history using a large, nationally representative population sample.


Severe headache and migraine are common and disabling neurological disorders worldwide. Previous studies revealed that the B vitamin group, as an important nutrient of diet, can reduce migraine disability.


We performed a cross-sectional study of American adults surveyed in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2004. Information on headache history was collected in the Miscellaneous Pain section of the Questionnaire Data. Dietary intake data of thiamine and riboflavin were obtained by 24-h dietary recall interview.


The present study included 13,439 participants and indicated that 2745/13,439 (21.6%) adults (aged ≥20 years) experienced severe headache or migraine in the past 3 months. Dietary thiamine intake was significantly inversely associated with severe headache or migraine (odds ratio [OR] = 0.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.88–1.00, p = 0.046). In the stratified analysis, the relationship was maintained in the female group (OR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.82–0.98, p = 0.022), and the sex interaction term was significant (p = 0.020). However, no significant interaction was found between the age groups (p = 0.352). For dietary riboflavin, no significant negative association was observed between dietary riboflavin intake and headache history (OR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.94–1.02, p = 0.367). After stratifying by sex or age, there remained no significant relationship between dietary riboflavin and migraine.


We found that high intake of thiamine was significantly associated with lower odds of migraine, especially in females. In the future, more clinical studies are needed to confirm our conclusions, and additional experiments are needed to explore the possible mechanisms of prevention and treatment for migraine.