Question on Muscle Cramps and Mineral Deficiency

Question from David: Why do I get muscle cramps? Are they linked to a mineral deficiency?

Answer from Martha: Thanks for writing David! Another question from a guy. I should change the name of this blog to “City Guys” where are all the city girls?

Muscle cramps can be occur for several reasons, including:

1. Overexertion or working a muscle to the point of exhaustion can cause cramping.

2. Dehydration can be another cause. It is important to stay fully hydrated prior to, during and after exercise.

3. Electrolyte imbalances (especially sodium and potassium) can cause muscle cramping. Potassium and sodium help maintain fluid balance in the body. The electrical charges they carry help trigger muscles to contract and relax. A potassium-sodium imbalance can lead to muscle cramps.

a. Your best bet against muscle cramps is to consume potassium rich foods including oranges and orange juice, bananas, dried fruit, legumes, milk, yogurt, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, etc.

b. It is also important to consume adequate sodium in  your diet. Salt your food and consume salty foods such as pickles,pretzels, soup, baked chips, etc. Of course, you may need to limit your sodium somewhat if you have high blood pressure.

c. Consume a sports beverage that contains sodium and potassium when exercising, especially in the heat.

4. Although not as common, a calcium deficiency may be blamed for muscle cramping. Increase your calcium intake or take a calcium supplement to see if the cramps disappear.

5. If all else fails, make an appointment with a physical therapist to see if there is a biomechanical cause of your muscle cramps.

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