Recently, I heard about how some people believed beets cause headaches due to their high iron content. So I went to write an article about how Red Rush didn’t contain enough iron to cause a headache, but then I started doing more research and couldn’t find any evidence that iron or even iron overdoses caused headaches. So I tried to find evidence that beets and/or nitric oxide caused headaches or triggered migraines and could not find much to back that up.
Keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a scientist. I am simply a blogger with a background in research and science writing who tries to use reliable, independent third-party sources.
A beet contains 6% of your daily value of iron. Red Rush contains only 2%. Red Rush is made from 5 beets but has less iron than five regular beets. How is that possible? It has to do with the juicing process.
From Red Rush’s Ryan Davis, (not a third-party source)
We use only beet juice and none of the beet fiber, solids or greens. Our beet juice is concentrated to seven times its natural solids content through vacuum evaporation to remove the extra water.
Heavier micronutrients like iron can become associated or adhere to fibrous plant tissues. I suggest that most of the iron is removed with the fiber through our juicing process.
A typical whole beet (without the greens) contains about 92 mg of nitrate. The suggested nitrate intake for lowering systolic blood pressure (up to 10 points) or improving athletic performance is 300 to 500 mg of nitrate daily. In other words, one would need to consume 3.3 to 5.4 beets daily to achieve the scientifically proven benefits of beet nitrate.
Red Rush targets the upper level of one’s needs for nitrate based on normal individuals. Through the use of Berkeley nitric oxide text strips we are realizing that most individuals report deficient results before using Red Rush. The use of mouthwash, antacid medications, and aging can limit one’s ability to convert the nitrate in Red Rush to nitric oxide. Some individuals can benefit from up to two shots per day to balance a nitric oxide deficiency.
Red Rush doesn’t have that much iron and shouldn’t cause “iron headaches.” If I were a wise man, I would end the blog post here and walk away. I’ve pretty much alleviated all concerns about the product we sell causing headaches via its iron content.
What’s the Deal with Iron and Beet Juice and Headaches?
But I am not a wise man. I did some digging and can’t find anything linking iron or beet juice to headaches. In fact, one of the main side effects of iron deficiency is headache. The side effects of too much iron are.
From NHS :
The side effects of taking high doses (over 20mg) of iron include:
- stomach pain
Adult women need a whopping 18 milligrams of iron. Men and post-menopausal women need only 8 milligrams. Six percent of eight milligrams is .48 milligrams. So if my art-school math teachers were any good at their jobs, you would have to eat seventeen whole beets to get your daily allotment of iron. You’ll need to eat forty if you’re a woman of child-bearing age.
OK, so what could be causing headaches?
Theory One: Nitrate Triggers Migraines.
I can’t find any evidence linking the ingestion of beets or vegetable nitrates to triggering migraine headaches. The University of California Berkeley doesn’t list beets or other high-nitrate vegetables as trigger foods. Some warn that preservatives such as nitrite may trigger migraines, but that’s not the same thing as vegetable nitrate at all. Also, they induced some headaches with glyceryl trinitrate and histamine to artificially stimulate nitric oxide formation back in 1997, a year before they awarded the Nobel Prize to the guys who discovered nitric oxide’s role as a vasodilator. But nitroglycerin and histamine is hardly similar to an arugula-and-beet salad.
Back in the 90’s, nitric oxide was usually considered a pollutant, but now it’s considered healthy.
In 2000, everyone’s favorite Internet doctor, Doc Mercola, published an article saying that nitric oxide was bad.
In 2007, Mercola published an interview with Dr. Ignarro explaining why NO was good. He’s published quite a few more articles on the benefits of NO since then.
The paradigm had shifted. That’s how science works.They come up with a theory and use it until it falls apart and a new one is born. Right now, everyone is operating on the premise that NO is good for you, and the studies have been backing that up pretty well.
Also, the whole theory on migraines and triggers has recently changed.
If these suspected triggers aren’t causing migraines, though, why have they been fingered as responsible for the headaches? Most of the evidence linking the triggers to migraines comes from studies in which patients self-reported what they thought were the factors responsible for their headaches; for the most part, these factors weren’t tested in the way that Olesen analyzed the effect of bright lights and exercise on migraines in the lab.
People’s beliefs about migraines may also complicate how researchers explore migraine causes. Similar to the placebo effect, how patients think about migraines will often influence how they experience them. If you’re convinced a certain food will a trigger a migraine, your suspicion might become a reality; if you’re worried you’ll get a migraine, you might just bring about one.
Basically, Migraines suck. They aren’t sure what causes them. Vegetables are currently not suspect.
Theory 2: Allergies
If you eat something and it gives you a headache, you might be allergic to it.
Theory 3: Coincidence
If you eat something and it gives you a headache, you didn’t eat that thing in a lab; you ate it in the real world full of other factors. It may have been something else, but you’ve now made an incorrect association.
Theory 4: Contamination:
The beets could have had something nasty on them.
Theory 5: Something Else
Maybe, I’m not asking the right questions or researching the right things. That’s what the comment section is for.
In conclusion, if you have a headache, see a doctor and let him or her tell you why you have it.