Feeling your muscles cramp is like painful knots that just won't relax. Determining the cause of the muscle cramp, though, may be a bit more elusive. Several causes may be at the root of the problem, such as trauma, disease, fatigue, over-stretching, dehydration and possible mineral imbalances. Prior to taking vitamins or mineral supplements to alleviate the discomfort, get approval from your doctor first.
In a 1974 study, 42 men and 83 women received daily doses of 400 IU of vitamin E for moderate to severe, nocturnal leg cramps. After just one week, of all the recipients of vitamin E, only two did not experience any appreciable change, noted the article by Dr. Samuel Ayres Jr. and Dr. Richard Mihan in the "Southern Medical Journal." The study explained that along with the antioxidant effect, vitamin E also facilitates oxygen uptake in metabolism which may be the reason of such positive results. The recommended dietary allowance, RDA, for adults taking vitamin E is 22.5 IU, although the tolerable upper intake level, UL, is 1,500 IU.
Of the 25 g of magnesium in your body, 27 percent is in your muscles, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Magnesium deficiency may be more common than realized, which may present in muscle cramping, states a 1996 article by D. L. Bilbey and V. M. Prabhakaran in journal "Canadian Family Physician." Magnesium is necessary for over 300 metabolic functions, including the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, protein synthesis and the moving of calcium and potassium in and out of cells. The RDA for adults for magnesium is 310 to 420 mg per day.
The 1 percent of calcium found in your blood and tissues must be kept at a very tight tolerance to maintain blood and fluid levels around the cells. This is necessary for the relaxing and constricting of blood vessels, transmission of nerve impulses and muslce contraction. Muscles and nerves contain electrical-dependent channels necessary for quick changes in calcium concentrations, that control muscle contractions. The RDA for adults for calcium is 1,000 to 1,200 mg per day.
During a two day training camp for college football players, evidence shows that there is greater sodium loss in players prone to cramping, as opposed to players who are not, according to a 2005 study by J.R. Stofan and colleagues in the "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism." Sodium is tightly regulated by your body. It is essential in numerous processes necessary for your survival and is crucial for the transmission of nerve impulses and muscle contractions. The RDA for an adult for sodium is 1.3 g per day. The RDA for sodium chloride, or salt, is 3.3 g per day.
- "Southern Medical Journal"; Nocturnal Leg Cramps (Systremma): A Progress Report on Response to Vitamin E; Samuel Ayres Jr., M.D., et al.; 1974
- Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin E
- Linus Pauling Institute: Minerals
- "Canadian Family Physician"; Muscle cramps and magnesium deficiency: case reports.; D. L. Bilbey and V. M. Prabhakaran; July 1996
- "International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism"; Sweat and sodium losses in NCAA football players: a precursor to heat cramps?; J.R. Stofan, et al.; Dec.2005