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Nutritional Deficiency and Shaking

author image Sirah Dubois
Sirah Dubois is currently a PhD student in food science after having completed her master's degree in nutrition at the University of Alberta. She has worked in private practice as a dietitian in Edmonton, Canada and her nutrition-related articles have appeared in The Edmonton Journal newspaper.
Nutritional Deficiency and Shaking
A lack of B-vitamins and minerals affect musculoskeletal and neurological function. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images

Muscle shaking, also called essential tremor or muscle fasciculation, is an uncontrollable twitching of your muscles. Muscle shaking is most noticeable in the hands, but also occurs around the neck, eyes and legs. Muscle shaking and tremors are more common among the elderly and sometimes related to senility diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Nutritional deficiency is a common cause of abnormal muscle tone and may lead to chronic shaking or twitching of your muscles. Consult with your doctor if your notice that you are unable to keep your hands steady.


Hypoglycemia is defined as low blood sugar, which refers to the amount of glucose circulating in your bloodstream. Glucose is the primary fuel for your brain and needed by virtually all tissues to produce energy. Skipping meals is the most common cause of hypoglycemia, although it also occurs in diabetics who take too much insulin. A primary symptom of hypoglycemia is widespread muscle tremors and weakness, although other common symptoms include “brain fog,” confusion, fatigue and lethargy, according to the book “Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease.” Eating refined carbohydrates or drinking fruit juice often quickly resolves muscle shaking caused by hypoglycemia.

B-Vitamin Deficiency

B-vitamins are needed by your body for metabolism, energy production, nerve function and conductance, enzyme synthesis and red blood cell production. B-vitamins are quickly depleted by stress, toxins and alcoholism, and deficiencies are common in people with poor diets and malabsorption issues, according to “Metabolic Regulation: A Human Perspective.” B-vitamins most often linked to muscle shakiness because of their importance to nerve function include B-1 or thiamine, B-6 or pyridoxine and B-12 or cobalamin. Deficiencies in these vitamins invariably affect brain function and lead to other neurological problems such as reduced cognition, depression, numbness and tingling in the limbs and loss of balance. Red meat, chicken, fish, beans, nuts and green leafy vegetables are all good sources of B-vitamins.

Magnesium Deficiency

Minerals are also important for nerve function and normal muscle tone. Magnesium is especially important for the relaxation of muscles. Early symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include fatigue, irritability, insomnia and muscle tremors, twitching or shaking, according to “Functional Biochemistry in Health and Disease.” Prolonged deficiency affects the electrical waves in your brain, heart and skeletal muscles and may be related to chronic muscle cramping and restless leg syndrome. If magnesium deficiency is the cause of your muscle shaking, then magnesium supplementation can lead to dramatic improvement within hours to days.

Dehydration and Electrolyte Imbalance

Dehydration occurs from not drinking enough water or quickly losing too much water from excessive urination, diarrhea or blood loss. Water loss is accompanied by loss of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, which are salts of the body needed for normal muscle control and nerve function. An early sign of dehydration is muscle shaking or tremors, but muscle cramping, irregular heart beat, fatigue and reduced brain function can quickly follow if your body is not replenished with water and electrolytes. Drinking water devoid of minerals and electrolytes is not enough to return a severely dehydrated person back to health.

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