If you are experiencing muscle twitches, cramps or spasms, you may need to supplement your diet with a number of specific vitamins or minerals. You can become deficient in certain nutrients because of poor diet, exercise or the use of medication such as diuretics. This nutritional deficiency, in turn, can cause you to experience involuntary muscle contractions. Consult your doctor before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements.
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Muscle twitches are involuntary muscle contractions by your muscle fibers. According to the National Institutes of Health, these twitches are usually minor and often go unnoticed. They also tend to be harmless, yet they can be a symptom of exercise, stimulants such as coffee, stress or a nutritional deficiency. Muscle spasms and cramps can also be caused by nutritional deficiency and usually occur in your legs during the night.
Sodium and Potassium
Sodium and potassium deficiency are particularly common after exercise as you can lose them during sweating. This can cause your muscles to contract and twitch. You can, however, recover electrolytes easily by eating certain foods. Potassium is found in a host of sources such as bananas, vegetables, nuts and seeds, fish, milk, beef, chicken and turkey. Sodium is found in salt. Your body relies on these minerals to relax the muscle tissue once a spasm occurs. Mineral Resources International asserts that your body manipulates the balance of these minerals inside and outside of muscle cells to get your muscles to contract and relax. Therefore, if there is a deficiency of these minerals in your body at the time of a muscular contraction, your muscles cannot relax and they will continue to twitch and spasm, which may turn into a cramp. Other electrolytes that can prevent muscular contraction include magnesium, chloride and calcium.
Vitamin E and Ginkgo Biloba
Vitamin E can also reduce muscular twitches. Involuntary contractions of your muscle fibers can occur due to poor circulation. Vitamin E has blood-thinning properties that improve your blood flow. According to Dr. Robert Cathcart, vitamin E works effectively for idiopathic nocturnal leg cramps by reducing free radicals and increasing circulation to your legs. Ginkgo biloba has a similar blood-thinning effect to vitamin E and can also help to alleviate twitches and spasms in your muscle tissue. Vitamin E is present in wheat germ, seeds, nuts, broccoli and tomatoes.
Electrolyte supplements containing magnesium, chloride, potassium, sodium and calcium can be purchased in tablet form, powders or effervescent tablets. You should, however, only take these supplements under the supervision of a heath care provider, as excessive minerals such as magnesium and potassium can cause you to experience nausea, vomiting, severely lowered blood pressure, slowed heart rate and deficiency of other minerals. They can also adversely affect you if you have kidney problems. In most cases you can obtain adequate amounts of these minerals solely through diet. You should also only take ginkgo biloba and vitamin E on the advice of a health care professional as these are blood-thinning supplements that could interfere with other medication. Quiinine was used as a muscle relaxant until 1994 when the FDA banned it as an over-the-counter drug. Although it can treat muscle cramps, quinine can cause your body many negative side effects, including itching, nausea, diarrhea and liver damage.