Did you know that adequate magnesium is required for healthy muscle function?  Magnesium deficiency is a very common cause of muscle cramps and spasms.  The most common location for muscle cramps is in the feet, calves and hamstrings, and they tend to strike while you're asleep, while sitting or lying for long periods.

Muscle cramps can occur for a number of reasons, including:

  • Mineral deficiencies, particularly magnesium, potassium, calcium or sodium deficiency.  You are more likely to become deficient in these minerals if you exercise regularly in hot weather, as the increased perspiration causes you to lose large quantities of these minerals.
  • Dehydration.  Not drinking enough water makes you more prone to cramps.  Again, this is more likely to occur if you exercise in hot weather.  Cramps caused by dehydration usually occur during physical activity, rather than during rest.
  • Excessive diarrhea or vomiting.  They cause a loss of minerals as well as water from your body.
  • Poor circulation.  This can be caused by blocked arteries in the legs and is a manifestation of cardiovascular disease.  Anemia can also cause poor circulation and cramps.
  • Physical over-exertion. Particularly in cold weather or if you have not warmed up your muscles adequately before exercise.
  • Prescription diuretic drugs. They increase the risk of cramps because they cause you to lose excessive water and minerals through your urine.

Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common causes of muscle cramps and spasms.  Magnesium deficiency also increases muscle pain and fatigue after exercise and increases the length of time it takes your muscles to recover from a tough workout.  Magnesium deficiency also contributes to the generalized muscle pain of fibromyalgia. Selenium is the other mineral with significant benefits for fibromyalgia.

How do you know if you are magnesium deficient?

A blood test is not a reliable way to measure your body’s magnesium status because very little of the magnesium in your body is in your bloodstream.  Most of the magnesium in your body is in your bones, and the rest is spread among your muscles and organs.  Therefore we use symptoms to determine if a person is low in magnesium.  The most common symptoms of magnesium deficiency are:

  • Fatigue.  Magnesium is required for energy production, and in fact it is required for approximately 300 metabolic processes in your body.  Magnesium is that important!
  • Anxiety, nervousness and feeling stressed.  Stress depletes your body of magnesium and once you are magnesium deficient, you are prone to feeling anxious and uptight.
  • Insomnia or poor quality sleep. If sleep is a significant problem for you, you should find effective solutions in my book Tired of Not Sleeping?
  • Insulin resistance (syndrome X).  Magnesium is required for good blood sugar control. There is more information about how to lose weight if you have syndrome X in this book.
  • Hormone imbalance.  In men, magnesium deficiency can contribute to testosterone deficiency.  In women, magnesium deficiency can contribute to symptoms of excess testosterone such as facial hair and scalp hair loss.

Most diets are magnesium deficient

Magnesium is found in foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, however it is very difficult to obtain sufficient magnesium through diet alone because the soils in many parts of the world are depleted in this vital mineral.  In addition, stress, alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption all deplete the body of magnesium.  Therefore to really notice an improvement in the above mentioned symptoms, a magnesium supplement is usually required.  Magnesium is available in powder or tablet form.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.