Muscle cramps are a real pain and can happen at any age. And, four out of 10 people experience leg cramps on a regular basis. What causes the cramps? Also, what’s the best form of magnesium to take to help ease them?
What Causes Cramps?
A large majority of cases do not have a definitive cause. One theory is that a short muscle contracts even further, causing a spasm, which results in a cramp. This often happens at night when the body is relaxed. You may feel it just below the knee, at the back of your leg in the calf, or your feet. Sufferers may jump out of bed in excruciating pain, stomping feet on the floor, like dancing an Irish jig.
Unfortunately, when you stretch out the muscles and walk around, it seems to only offer minor relief. Cramping is not fun and should be taken seriously. It may also be a sign of another issue within the body. Some examples are:
- In the later stages of pregnancy
- Overworking of muscles, which is common in athletes
- A sign of an untreated underactive thyroid
- Sarcoidosis, which is an inflammatory condition
- Excessive amount of alcohol
- Kidney Dialysis
- Low sodium or potassium
Why Is Magnesium Essential For Muscles?
Magnesium is essential for the body to function correctly. Most noteworthy, it relaxes the muscles by reducing the amount of calcium infiltrating cells. Calcium and vitamin D are also essential. Alternately, they need to be balanced with magnesium to be totally effective. Also important, too much calcium in the muscle cells can lead to cramping.
Your diet is the ideal way to consume magnesium. Although, this is not always realistic because of busy schedules. Foods that are rich in magnesium are:
- Dark chocolate
- Brown rice
- Sunflower seeds
- Whole grain bread
According to a Harvard Medical report, it is possible to have a sufficient amount of magnesium in the diet, with the suggested amount being 420 milligrams per day. Women also need a sufficient amount of magnesium whilst pregnant and breastfeeding, due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, when magnesium is lost through the urine. There are a number of people who suffer from a magnesium deficiency, which is often linked to digestive problems like IBS (irritable bowel symptom) or certain medicines. They lead to a deficiency, particularly antibiotics, which lower magnesium levels.
Cramps may be caused by several factors and visiting a health care practitioner is always advised in case there is an underlining health issue. If the conclusion is paraphysiological cramps, which occurs in healthy people due to either over exertion of muscles, low levels of magnesium or pregnancy, they may suggest a change in diet or even trying a supplement.
Best Magnesium Supplements For Muscle Cramps
There are a number of magnesium supplements and products on the market, but which ones are the best and which ones are not recommended for for muscle cramps?
- If you wish to take magnesium citrate, the supplement Natural Calm, is recommended. Consequently, magnesium citrate is well absorbed but can also act as a laxative. It is helpful for restless leg syndrome for those suffering from constipation. However, it lowers ceruloplasmin levels, which regulates the iron and copper in the body. Therefore, don’t use this supplement long term.
- Magnesium water. Natural mineral waters containing higher levels of magnesium and bicarbonate have been promoted for their health benefits. One of the best mineral waters for its magnesium properties is Badoit(drinkingtwo liters a day will reach the recommended daily intake of magnesium).
- Oxide, is the least expensive form of magnesium but it does not absorb well and therefore will not be beneficial for muscle cramps. Multivitamins are an excellent source of magnesium.
- Many people and health practioners recommend transdermal (through the skin) transmitted magnesium. This comes in either an oil form, which can be a little harsh on the skin, or a magnesium lotion (one teaspoon is just over 200mg of magnesium). Parents will use this for kids with growing pains. Athletes also love to use the lotion to help relax the muscles.
- Epsom salts, which is a combination of (sulfate) salt and magnesium flakes (chloride) is a traditional old fashioned method used in a hot bath to help ease muscle aches and pains. The theory being that soaking in a hot bath of Epsom salts, eases and relaxes muscles. Although there is no scientific evidence this works, a majority who use this method swears that it does.
- Magnesium malate, is recommended by many for being the best supplement for people with muscle pain and cramps. It is a combination of Malic Acid and Magnesium, which is found in fruit and vegetables. Scientific studies have revealed that this combination rejuvenates the muscle cells, whilst comforting them.
Supplement Suggestions include:
Source Naturals Magnesium Malate or Cramp Defense.
Magnesium for muscle cramps is essential: add more to the everyday diet, partake in active stretching in the area of cramping, stay hydrated, and ask a health practitioner about a magnesium supplement. Magnesium may just stop those cramps, or the occasional night time Irish Jig, benefiting not just your muscles, but overall health too.
For more information on the best form of magnesium for muscle cramps, visit www.getthrive.com
AMERICAN OSTEOPATHIC ASSOCIATION
Functional Medicine University
AMERICAN FAMILY PHYSICIAN