Taking a vitamin B complex, a supplement containing B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin), can help with all of these functions. However, research has also found that it can help with muscle cramps. Some studies have found that magnesium can alleviate these types of cramps. One of these studies was published in Medical Science Monitor.
At some points in the study, participants received 300 mg of magnesium for their nighttime cramps; other times they were monitored, keeping a diary to record the duration and severity of the cramps along the way. After six weeks, it was determined that, after receiving real magnesium, 78 percent of the study subjects reported an improvement in cramps. This compares with only 54 percent who reported some level of improvement after taking a placebo. Research has also linked oral magnesium to relieving leg cramps that occur during pregnancy.
Healthline adds that magnesium also has other benefits for pregnant women, such as a possible reduction in fetal growth, fetal growth restriction and premature birth. Medical News Today explains that zinc benefits the body in several ways. This includes supporting healthy immune system function, improving learning and memory, maximizing wound healing processes, decreasing age-related health conditions and improving fertility. Research has also found that this nutrient may help alleviate specific types of muscle cramps.
For example, a 2000 study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition involved 12 cirrhotic patients who experienced muscle cramps at least three times a week, usually in the calves, feet and hands. After receiving 220 mg twice daily of zinc sulfate for 12 weeks, 10 of the 12 patients reported an improvement in their muscle cramps. Seven of them indicated that their cramps completely disappeared. Zinc has also been found to be beneficial if cramps are related to menstruation.
An article published in Medical Hypotheses states that taking up to three doses of 30 mg of zinc a day for one to four days before menstruation can help prevent menstrual cramps. However, it is not clear if this response is due to the impact of this nutrient on prostaglandins or if it is due to the fact that it acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for the uterus. Get Chiropractic Economics magazine delivered to your home or office. Simply fill out our form to request your FREE subscription for 20 issues per year, including two annual buyer's guides.
Exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) have historically been attributed to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Electrolytes such as magnesium, sodium, calcium and potassium are non-organic materials that conduct small episodes of electricity, and these electrical charges are necessary to trigger muscle movement and contraction and are important for overall muscle performance. If you're prone to exercise-related muscle cramps, HOTSHOT For Muscle Cramps can help. HOTSHOT was specifically formulated to target the neurological cause behind cramps.
When you take this sports injection before training or competition, the sensory nerves in your mouth and esophagus are activated, which then send a calming signal to the spinal cord. This signal then inhibits the hyperactive activation of motor neurons, which continuously collide with a fatigued muscle and cause uncontrollable muscle cramps and pain the next day. That's why increasing your vitamin B intake with a vitamin B complex (a supplement that includes all the different B vitamins) can help reduce unusual muscle cramps, but this is only useful if you're deficient in vitamin B1 or B12 and isn't suitable for exercise-induced cramps. To determine if a B1 or B12 deficiency is causing muscle cramps that otherwise couldn't be explained, see your doctor and have a laboratory test done.
Potassium is another electrolyte that can be affected by your hydration levels. Low potassium levels, a condition also known as hypokalemia, can cause muscle cramps. Once again, you should consult your doctor before taking potassium supplements for muscle cramps, as it has only been shown to be a problem related to a medical deficiency and you may not see any improvement in cramps as you increase your intake of this mineral. In addition, certain vitamins and minerals affect muscle function, in particular potassium and magnesium.
A major body of research has found that increasing magnesium intake can help reduce the frequency of leg cramps at night, especially in pregnant women. Health experts recommend consuming at least 300 milligrams of magnesium per day. A supplement can help you reach your daily allowance, but it can also make you eat foods rich in magnesium, such as nuts, lentils and quinoa. Quite popular in the 60s and 70s, quinine (tonic water) has gone unnoticed as a preventive supplement for muscle cramps.
This is largely due to the toxic side effects of quinine derivatives. Cases of quinine toxicity were identified worldwide, leading to the discontinuation of this compound in many countries, although anecdotal reports suggest that it was effective in treating some muscle cramps in selected individuals. Vitamins for muscle cramps in general have not been shown to be effective medicines. However, in patients with kidney disease receiving dialysis, a clinical study found that vitamin E, together with L-carnitine supplementation, improved symptoms of muscle cramps.
The widespread use of these two agents in athletes has not been studied, since most healthy athletes are not usually deficient in either of them. In the elderly, vitamin D supplements for leg muscle cramps didn't effectively prevent them overnight. This further indicates that not all leg cramps are related to dehydration or electrolyte loss. Restless legs and nighttime leg cramps in older people are likely to indicate an underlying problem other than that seen in endurance athletes, which is why vitamins for leg cramps aren't effective in these cases.
Probably one of the most promising, but still “understudied” minerals that can be used effectively to prevent muscle cramps is magnesium. It is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and is stored in bones and soft tissue. Magnesium constantly flows between the blood compartment as a free ion and influences more than 300 cellular reactions in the body. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to manifest as cramps, weakness, fatigue, irritability, headaches, and mood disorders.
Magnesium has been tried to relieve muscle cramps in the elderly with no conclusive result. It is usually given to pregnant women with preeclampsia to relieve excessive contractions of the uterine muscles and has a high safety profile. Very high doses of magnesium (now rarely used) have been shown to inhibit the transmission of neuromuscular reflexes and muscle contraction. After correcting clinical magnesium deficiency with supplements, people report improved muscle activity, fewer cramps and more energy in observational studies.
Despite this, the data for endurance athletes are less conclusive, largely due to the lack of properly controlled clinical trials to support them. Previous studies have failed to control dietary variation, supplement variability, exercise regimen, and people's tolerance, as well as real variable modifiers, such as weather conditions that affect electrolyte changes. A study on magnesium supplements for leg cramps in older people for a few months showed a better ability to perform muscle tasks over a 12-week period. If you had to ask what to take for leg cramps, magnesium seems to be a safe and effective bet.
Clinical studies have indicated that people who use diuretics (water pills) for conditions such as heart failure lead to a depletion of the body's potassium stores. This has often led to muscle weakness and cramps, and potassium has been used as a supplement to relieve muscle cramps in these people. However, its role in exercise-associated muscle cramps has not been studied. Normally, potassium is minimally lost in sweat, and potassium is often found to be translocated outside of cells during intense exercise in a process called rhabdomyolysis (which literally means muscle cell injury).
So, while people with potassium deficiency (such as those using diuretics) may find relief with supplementation, potassium alone is unlikely to be the best for leg cramps in athletes. Calcium and magnesium are the yin and yang of muscle contraction. Calcium is used to initiate muscle contraction. However, for a muscle to relax, a sufficient level of magnesium is needed.
Muscle spasms can be caused by a calcium deficiency or a magnesium deficiency. Therefore, these cramps or spasms originate from the inability to contract or the inability to relax a muscle efficiently. Classically, with calcium deficiency, cramps occur more frequently during the day, while with magnesium deficiency, they are often more noticeable at night and during sleep. However, this is not a perfect correlation and more tests need to be done to determine which minerals are missing.
While a variety of supplements are marketed to help reduce muscle cramps, HOTSHOT is the only sports option that can prevent and treat muscle cramps associated with exercise by attacking the overactive nerves that lead to fatigued muscles. While these deficiency-induced muscle cramps can cause similar, uncontrollable muscle cramps, they are not the same as exercise-induced muscle cramps. Current research shows that a very severe vitamin D deficiency is likely to reduce muscle mass and increase muscle weakness. Instead, many scientists now believe that muscle cramps are likely caused by a failure to activate motor neurons, which are the brain cells that dictate the contraction and subsequent movement of skeletal muscles.
Magnesium is one of those electrolytes important for dictating muscle movement because it helps muscles relax. In other words, the muscle is in a hypercontractile state; in a way, the inhibitory reflexes from the nerves to the muscles, which would normally tell it to relax when the countermuscles are active, are not doing their job. While there are several different types of muscle cramps, here we'll talk specifically about exercise-associated muscle cramps (EAMC) and nighttime leg cramps. .