Migraine headaches typically produce intense pulsing or throbbing pain in one area of the head .
These headaches are sometimes preceded or accompanied by aura (transient focal neurological symptoms before or during the headaches). Mitochondrial dysfunction is thought to play a causal role in some types of migraine .Because riboflavin is required for mitochondrial function, researchers are studying the potential use of riboflavin to prevent or treat migraine headaches .
Some, but not all, of the few small studies conducted to date have found evidence of a beneficial effect of riboflavin supplements on migraine headaches in adults and children. In a randomized trial in 55 adults with migraine, 400 mg/day riboflavin reduced the frequency of migraine attacks by two per month compared to placebo. In a retrospective study in 41 children (mean age 13 years) in Italy, 200 or 400 mg/day riboflavin for 3 to 6 months significantly reduced the frequency (from 21.7 ± 13.7 to 13.2 ± 11.8 migraine attacks over a 3-month period) and intensity of migraine headaches during treatment. The beneficial effects lasted throughout the 1.5-year follow-up period after treatment ended. However, two small randomized studies in children found that 50 to 200 mg/day riboflavin did not reduce the number of migraine headaches or headache severity compared to placebo.
The Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society concluded that riboflavin is probably effective for preventing migraine headaches and recommended offering it for this purpose. The Canadian Headache Society recommends 400 mg/day riboflavin for migraine headache prevention, noting that although the evidence supporting this recommendation is of low quality, there is some evidence for benefit and side effects (such as discolored urine) are minimal.