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25 October 2010

Muscle cramps and mineral deficiency

Can muscle cramps and pains be linked to mineral deficiencies and can taking mineral supplements cure the problem?

Can muscle cramps and pains be linked to mineral deficiencies and can taking mineral supplements cure the problem?

  • A mineral deficiency involving potassium, calcium, magnesium and/or sodium.
  • Dehydration, which can occur in athletes when they exercise hard in hot conditions and do not drink sufficient liquid.
  • Excessive intake of fluid (drinking 2-3 litres or more of water in addition to your daily fluid intake) - this can ‘wash’ the above-mentioned minerals out of your body and lead to cramps.
  • Lack of fitness - well-trained muscles are less likely to cramp. Although this mainly applies to athletes, people who are not fit and get too little exercise often develop cramps because their muscles are so poorly used.
  • Wearing tight constrictive clothing, especially in bed. Try to wear comfortable, loosely fitting clothes at all times (be comfortable, rather than stylish if you are plagued by cramps), as constriction of the blood supply to muscles can cause them to contract painfully.

Minerals that play a role
There are four minerals that can influence how a muscle contracts, namely calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium.

  • Get as fit as possible - the fitter you are, the fewer cramps you will develop.
  • Drink sufficient liquid to prevent dehydration, but don’t overdo your fluid intake.
  • Follow a low-fat diet to prevent clogged arteries as poor blood circulation to the limbs can cause cramps.
  • Do stretching exercises every day, especially with the muscles that tend to cramp.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothes, especially at night.

 
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