Nearly everyone has experienced the painful, sudden contraction of a muscle as it cramps. Certain drugs, pregnancy, dialysis and diseases place you at greater risk for experiencing muscle cramps. Some vitamins, including vitamins D, E and B complex, may help reduce muscle cramping. Always consult your doctor before you begin taking new vitamin supplements.
Muscle Cramp Risks
The cause of muscle cramping is not clear, but several risk factors increase your chance of muscle cramping. These include dialysis, pregnancy, exercise, salt and electrolyte imbalances, diseases, and disorders that affect certain nerves, blood vessels or muscles. Certain medications also have been associated with muscle cramps. By taking preventive measures, such as gently stretching your muscles and drinking plenty of fluids, you may reduce your risk of muscle cramps. However, if you continue to be plagued by painful muscle cramps, supplementing with certain vitamins could help.
If you are extremely deficient in vitamin D -- less than 15 nanomolar per liter of vitamin D in the blood -- you may experience muscle cramps and fatigue. A study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism” in 2013 supplemented 12 individuals who had a severe vitamin D deficiency with 20,000 international units of cholecalciferol, a form of vitamin D, every other day for 10 to 12 weeks. After the supplementation with cholecalciferol, vitamin D levels improved in the subjects, as did symptoms of muscle cramps and fatigue.
People who undergo hemodialysis, a treatment for kidney failure, may experience muscle cramps. Researchers who published their work in “American Journal of Therapeutics” in 2010 randomly selected 19 patients undergoing hemodialysis who experienced at least 60 muscle cramping episodes over a 12-week period. Next, they supplemented participants with 400 international units of vitamin E for 12 weeks and recorded the number of muscle cramps subjects experienced. Researchers found a 68.3 percent reduction in the number of muscle cramps episodes during vitamin E supplementation compared with the number of episodes before supplementation.
Pregnant women may also experience painful muscle cramps. In a study published in the "International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics" in 2007, researchers divided 84 pregnant women into four groups. Group one received 500 milligrams of calcium carbonate once daily, group two received 7.5 millimolar of magnesium aspartate twice daily and group three received 100 milligrams of thiamine and 40 milligrams of pyridoxine daily. Group four was the control group and received no treatment. Participants then reported whether they experienced absolute, relative or no improvement in their cramps. After four weeks, 15 women in group three experienced absolute improvement in their cramps versus only two women in the control. Group three had the highest level of absolute improvement of all the groups.
- Merck Manuals: Muscle Cramps
- Clinical Evidence: Leg Cramps
- Obstetric Anesthesia Digest: Vitamin B Supplementation for Leg Cramps During Pregnancy
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism: Improving the Vitamin D Status of Vitamin D Deficient Adults Is Associated With Improved Mitochondrial Oxidative Function in Skeletal Muscle
- American Journal of Therapeutics: A Selected Controlled Trial for Supplementary Vitamin E for Treatment of Muscle Cramps in Hemodialysis Patients