Magnesium and Muscle Cramps

Magnesium for leg crampLeg cramps are sudden, involuntary contractions of the calf muscles or muscles in the soles of the feet that occur during the night or while at rest. The cramps can affect people in any age group.

There may be various causes for this to happen. Scientific research has not identified a precise reason for muscle cramps. However, it may be due to the nerves controlling the muscles rather than the muscles themselves.

Leg cramps can be caused by over-exertion of the muscles, structural disorders ( such as flat feet), prolonged sitting, standing on a hard surface, or dehydration. Less common causes include diabetes, hypoglycemia, anaemia, thyroid and endocrine dysfunction, Parkinson’s and certain medications.

Low levels of certain minerals acting as electrolytes in the body – they include magnesium, potassium, sodium and calcium – have long been linked to leg cramps. It especially affects long-distance runners and cyclists. Diuretics can also cause leg cramps. Pregnant women are also more susceptible to leg cramps.

To prevent cramps from happening, consider a regular use of supplements, especially magnesium and potassium. Sodium levels have to be monitored too in people engaged in strenuous activities, or those who lose a lot of fluids in a short period of time (e.g. in cases of diarrhoea, vomiting).

“Canadian doctors have found that magnesium supplements can alleviate muscle cramps. In severe cases, magnesium has been provided intravenously and this has led to the relief of symptoms within 24 hours. Many cases of muscle cramps are caused by low concentrations of magnesium in the blood which can The reason why it helps is due to diuretic medications or strenuous exercise. When taken orally, it seems that magnesium glucoheptonate or magnesium gluconate works best”. Bilbey, Douglas L, Prabhakaran V.M. Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports. Canadian Family Physician. July

“Interrelationship of magnesium and estrogen in cardiovascular and bone disorders, eclampsia, migraine and premenstrual syndrome.

The anticonvulsive and antihypertensive values of magnesium (Mg) in eclampsia and its antiarrhythmic applications in a variety of cardiac diseases have caused Mg to be considered only for parenteral administration by many physicians. In contrast, nutritionists have long recognized Mg as an essential nutrient, because severe deficiencies elicit neuromuscular manifestations similar to those justifying its use in eclampsia. More recently, this element has been used to favourably influence latent tetany with and without thrombotic complications, to delay preterm birth, to influence premenstrual syndrome, and to ameliorate migraine headaches. Most of these disorders exclusively or largely afflict women. The lesions of arteries and heart caused by experimental Mg deficiency have been well documented and may contribute to human cardiovascular disease. Estrogen’s enhancement of Mg utilization and uptake by soft tissues and bone may explain the resistance of young women to heart disease and osteoporosis, as well as increased prevalence of these diseases when estrogen secretion ceases. However, estrogen-induced shifts of Mg can be deleterious when estrogen levels are high and Mg intake is sub-optimal. The resultant lowering of blood Mg can increase the Ca/Mg ratio, thus favouring coagulation. Ca supplementation in the face of commonly low Mg intake, risk of thrombosis increases”. Seelig-MS J-Am-Coll-Nutr. 1993 Aug; 12(4): 442-58

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