Magnesium for Cramps
If you have ever woken up in the middle of the night with a sharp, painful muscle contraction, probably in your leg, then know how painful a cramp can be when you’re least expecting it. Cramps can happen to any muscle, but they are most common in the lower leg. Cramps can happen while you sleep, while exercising, or even while resting. Preventing cramps is important for providing relief from pain and improving your quality of life. Let’s learn more about what cramps are and how magnesium can help relieve them.
What are Cramps?
Cramps are sudden and severe contractions of your muscles. You do not control them and they can be extremely painful. These cramps are usually in the calf muscle. You may feel a hard knot when your muscles are cramping. Cramps can be caused by overexertion or medication. You are also more likely to get cramps if you are dehydrated, pregnant or getting older. Fortunately, cramps are usually not serious, only last a few seconds and can be treated at home.
What is Magnesium?
Magnesium is a mineral that your body needs to survive. It helps your body function in just about every way, from keeping a regular heart beat to strengthening bones. It is also responsible for working with the enzymes in your body to convert carbs to energy, make protein, and regulate the nervous system. Without magnesium, your body would stop working.
Magnesium is present throughout your body and you should regularly include it in your diet. You can get magnesium through food or through supplements. Some magnesium rich foods include dark chocolate, green, leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds. You can also get magnesium from beans and some fish.
How can Magnesium Help Cramps?
Magnesium plays an important role in making muscles move. It tells the neurons in your brain to both contract and relax muscles. Magnesium also helps fuel muscles by giving them fuel and taking away lactic acid when you exercise. If your magnesium levels are low, then you are much more likely to experience muscle cramps since they may not be fueled properly or are not getting the right signals from the brain to contract and relax. In fact, muscle cramps are one of the most common signs of a magnesium deficiency. Your cramps could also be a sign of inflammation. If so, magnesium can help calm the inflammation and relieve pain.
You may be deficient in magnesium if you are on diuretics, dehydrated or simply not eating the right foods. When this happens, it is important to increase your magnesium intake. You can do this by adding more magnesium rich foods to your diet or taking supplements. Supplements are usually safe to take but it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor in case there is any interference with other medications you take. Some magnesium supplements can also be hard on your stomach, so start with a dose lower than recommended and work your way up.
No one wants to experience muscle cramps. Making sure you have plenty of magnesium in your body will help avoid this painful experience. Eat a diet full of magnesium rich foods and supplement when necessary. Your entire body will function better and you’ll be less likely have any more painful cramps waking you up at night.
For more everything you need to know about magnesium and magnesium supplements, check out our comprehensive information page here.
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Ron Goedeke MD, BSc Hons MBChB, FNZCAM
Dr Ron Goedeke, specialises in alternative and functional medicine. He is a foundation member of the New Zealand college of Appearance medicine and has been a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine since 1999. With over 20 years of experience in the anti-aging field, Dr Ron Goedeke is recognized as one of New Zealand’s leaders in this new and growing field of medicine.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read on this website.