Fasciculations is just another name for muscle twitches. When a muscle suddenly, yet involuntarily contracts, it’s felt as a spontaneous twitching or spasm. Most are relatively minor, sometimes even going unnoticed. Major contractions, however, can lead to a muscle cramp, where the affected muscle feels almost hard or tight. A variety of different factor cause both fasciculations and cramps. The most common factor is overuse or injury, but a muscle can involuntarily contract as a result of diet deficiencies, especially when it comes to electrolytes. If you’re experiencing chronic twitching or spasms, talk to your doctor to determine the exact cause.
Magnesium is one dietary deficiency that can cause fasciculations. This essential mineral is responsible for the contraction and subsequent relaxation of muscles, among other bodily functions. Though rare, not getting enough in the diet can cause the muscle to spontaneously contract, leading to minor twitching. Women need 310 to 320 mg of magnesium a day, while men need between 400 and 420 mg.
While more commonly associated with cramps, a deficiency in potassium may cause some minor twitching as well. Potassium is primarily a mineral, but acts as an electrolyte in the body. Electrolytes facilitate the electrical activity – or impulses – used to communicate throughout the body, particularly muscle function. When the body is deficient in potassium, your muscle can suddenly contract, and you’ll feel a spasm. Adults need 4.7 g of potassium each day.
Like potassium, calcium is also associated with muscle cramps, but may cause some spasms or twitching as well. Calcium also acts as an electrolyte in the body. A lack of calcium can lead to the same type of sudden muscle contraction seen from a lack of potassium. Twitching from lack of calcium, however, is usually isolated to the eye muscles, nasal area and around the mouth, notes the Cleveland Clinic. Adult men and women need 1,000 mg of calcium a day up until the age of 50. After that, women should increase their intakes to 1,200 mg. At the age of 71, men should follow suit, increasing their intakes to 1,200 mg as well.
A deficiency in phosphorus can also lead to some neuromuscular twitching. In fact, it’s one of the physical signs of hypophosphatemia, which is too little phosphorous in the body. Although phosphorus – or lack there of – is often associated with bone loss, about 15 percent of this mineral is intracellular, which helps maintain nerve and muscle activity. Adults need 700 mg of phosphorus a day.