Health Tips | Dr. Tina Marcantel, RN, NMD

Nighttime Leg Cramps? It Could Be an Electrolyte Imbalance

published by Dr. Marcantel on October 20th, 2014 Print this page No Comments

Knee and hamstring injuryby Peter Marcantel

You are blissfully snoring away—your partner’s head covered with a pillow to drown out your bliss—when you are suddenly jolted awake with intense pain. Your leg is on fire as you try to stretch out the cramp that has taken hold like a vice, and you grit your teeth to keep from screaming as you struggle out of bed to stand and try to walk it off.

Sound familiar? It was for me. For years I was plagued with nighttime leg cramps that began after a back injury. Because I associated the cramps with my injury I thought I just had to live with them since I attributed it to nerve damage.

My salvation came when my naturopathic doctor (my wife) put me on a regular regimen of supplements to help balance my electrolytes. Each morning I take a capsule containing a calcium, magnesium, and zinc complex and a potassium capsule. On days when I exercise hard I usually double up on the dose.

Amazingly, that simple regimen has almost eliminated my nighttime cramps. As you probably know, electrolytes conduct electrical impulses in our bodies and are essential to help our muscles and nerves work properly. The most common electrolytes in the human body are magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium and if these are not maintained in proper levels one result can be cramps. Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and, taken in the evening, can also help relax your body to fall asleep.

Another supplement that I take regularly is curcumin, which has great anti-inflammatory properties and is beneficial in many ways. For more on that, see Dr. Marcantel’s article “Curcumin—The Spice for Life.”

Isn’t it interesting that the simplest answers to problems can often be the most effective? Thanks to my wife’s medical wisdom and the addition of a few supplements to my diet, I can now sleep through the night without the dread of leg cramps. Dr. Tina is still researching anti-snoring supplements.

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