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Can Nutritional Deficiency Cause Leg Cramps? Understanding the Link


Can Nutritional deficiency cause leg cramps? Understanding the link
Credit: goodrx.com

Have you ever had painful leg cramps that woke you up in the middle of the night? You'd know if you got leg cramps because they can be really painful and impair your sleep. Leg cramps are not just likely to occur when you sleep. Leg cramps might also occur while exercising. Leg cramps can be caused by a variety of factors, including an often-overlooked one is vitamin or mineral deficiencies.


Muscle cramps are defined by the Mayo Clinic as sudden, unexpected tightness of one or more muscles. They typically occur in the legs, particularly the calf, a long rear leg muscle that originates below the knee and finishes around the ankle. Also known as a 'charley horse'. These stubborn muscle events rarely endure more than a few minutes, or perhaps a few seconds. Leg cramps seem like a sudden clamping of the muscle, with its malleability replaced with a firm tightening that can produce excruciating agony.

 

Potential Reasons of Leg Cramps

 

Every human body is different from another; hence, the reasons for illness, body type, and treatment response may differ from person to person. Therefore, we will share some of the highlighted reasons for leg cramps or calf muscle pain.

 

  • If you put a lot of pressure on yourself while working out or go too hard, especially if you’re under-conditioned, you may find yourself in a muscle tussle.

  • If one is diagnosed with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, an under-active or overactive thyroid, or high blood pressure, they may experience leg cramps.

  • Pregnancy can also get you into muscle cramps, especially if you are in a standing position for a long period of time.

  • Obesity may push your muscles beyond where they want to go.

  • Fatigue and lack of sleep are also common reasons for leg cramps.

  • Dehydration robs your muscles of the fluids they need to work properly.

  • Lack of vitamins (e.g., vitamin B or vitamin D) or minerals (e.g., calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous) can cause leg cramps. Recent research suggests that vitamin K may help alleviate leg cramps. Tingling sensation is one of the symptom felt by many due to deficiency of such nutrients.

  • Ageing could be one the reason too. Taking enough rest, a stress-free and balanced diet can keep you far from diseases and also leg cramps.

 

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies May Cause Muscle Cramps

 

Vitamins and minerals are essential for the body to function properly. When there is deficiency of vitamins and minerals that your body require, there will be various health problems.

 

Here are three vitamin and mineral deficiencies to manage if you want to eliminate one potential cause of leg cramps: 

Vitamin D Deficiency

Without a doubt, vitamin D plays a symbolic role in many biological processes and general health, from bolstering your immune system to assisting in the development of strong bones and teeth. A growing amount of research also highlights vitamin D's benefits for heart health, supporting mood and cognition, and supporting metabolic processes.

Furthermore, we are aware that low or unhealthy levels of vitamin D are linked to low back pain, sarcopenia, muscle weakness, chronic and nonspecific musculoskeletal pain, and falls in the elderly.There is conflicting evidence about the relationship between leg cramps and a vitamin D deficiency.

 

According to some researchers low vitamin D levels may contribute to leg cramps. Vitamin D insufficiency is a global health hazard, affecting billions of adults and children. Symptoms of vitamin D insufficiency include fatigue, muscle weakness, back or joint pain, hair loss, headaches, depression, and difficulty sleeping. However, as you are surely aware, these symptoms are not limited to vitamin D deficiency and can also be indicative of other health issues.

 

A calcium and vitamin D3 supplement is a good idea to go with. You can’t absorb calcium without vitamin D; not just calcium but even vitamin D is crucially needed for better bone, joint, and muscular health. Beyond adding vitamin D supplements, adding vitamin D-rich foods like mushrooms and fatty fish like salmon to your diet and/or good sun exposure can help.




Magnesium Deficiency

Magnesium is necessary for the body to produce energy and for the proper operation of cells, nerves, and muscles. Additionally, several studies suggest the benefits of healthy blood pressure regulation, bone health, blood sugar regulation, sleep quality, and the reduction of stress and anxiety symptoms.


Magnesium helps your muscles become more flexible and helps you relax them so you can prevent injuries. Leg cramps can arise from a magnesium deficit for the simple reason that your muscles require magnesium to relax correctly.Because of magnesium's function in neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction, some researchers have postulated that a magnesium deficit may make a person more susceptible to cramping in their muscles.

Calcium Deficiency

Calcium is well known for its ability to help develop and maintain strong bones. However, the mineral also helps your heart, muscles, and nerves function properly. Calcium shortage, also known as hypocalcemia, can result in serious long-term repercussions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis.If you are deficient in calcium, you may not notice symptoms right away; therefore, it is critical to ensure that you are obtaining the required levels of calcium throughout your life, while also avoiding an excess that can lead to additional problems.

 

If calcium deficiency progresses, you may see different symptoms like:

 

  • Muscle cramps, including those in your legs

  • Brittle nails and dry, scaly skin and coarse hair

  • If left untreated it may lead to neurologic symptoms such as confusion, memory problems, depression and hallucinations.

 

Routine blood tests done may detect a calcium deficit.


Testing to see if you are deficient in vitamin D, magnesium, or calcium is the most effective technique to remove one probable cause of muscular cramps.If you are deficient in any of these nutrients, modifying your diet or including a dietary supplement into your daily routine may help you regain sufficient levels, maybe minimize frequent leg cramps, or even go completely as if it were never there. In the event of any serious symptoms, consult your doctor or other healthcare practitioner about your specific health situation.

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