Have you ever experienced the pain of a muscle cramp in your leg while exercising? Muscle cramps, although not dangerous, can cause discomfort for a period of time. So what is the cause of this condition? What nutrient is lacking when you have a muscle cramp? To answer these questions, let’s explore in the following article by Ocany.
High-risk groups for muscle cramps
Before addressing the question “what nutrient is lacking when you have a muscle cramp”, Ocany wants to share some information related to this condition. Muscle cramps can occur in anyone, but the following groups are more prone to this condition.
As the fetus develops, the body weight also increases. Experts believe that during pregnancy, the nerves and blood vessels in the legs will be compressed, making pregnant women more susceptible to muscle cramps. In addition, there is also a factor that increases the risk of muscle cramps in pregnant women, which is an electrolyte imbalance.
As people age, their nervous and muscular systems tend to deteriorate and become less efficient. As a result, middle-aged or elderly people are more prone to numbness, tingling, cramps, or muscle spasms.
People who engage in muscle-intensive activities such as professional athletes, especially those in swimming and running, often use their muscles extensively, and if they do not warm up properly, they are at high risk of getting muscle cramps during their workout.
What mineral or nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps?
There are many reasons that lead to muscle cramps. Most of the time, it is because you have not met the body’s daily requirements for certain nutrients. This phenomenon will occur more frequently if the nutrients in the body are severely deficient. To address this issue, you need to understand what mineral or nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps.
Have you ever wondered what mineral or nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps? Calcium is the first answer that many people will think of. This is a very important mineral for the body, especially the skeletal system.
Muscle cramping also depends on the concentration of calcium in the blood. When calcium is deficient, you will experience muscle spasms, and the frequency of muscle pain will be higher. Using foods such as yogurt and cheese will provide an abundant supply of calcium to the body.
Dehydration or Overhydration
Do you know what mineral or nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps? Sometimes, the loss or overconsumption of water in the body is the cause of this phenomenon. The imbalance of water in the body will lead to an electrolyte imbalance, making muscles prone to spasms and causing muscle cramps.
Especially in hot weather, the body is prone to losing a lot of sweat, leading to a lack of water and minerals. This makes the frequency of muscle cramps increase. Dehydration due to exercise often affects the nerves more than physical factors.
Lack of minerals
Magnesium and potassium are two important minerals that help keep the body healthy. A deficiency in these minerals can cause the body to experience frequent muscle cramps due to an imbalance in electrolytes.
Lack of oxygen to the muscles
During intense physical activity, the body needs to consume more oxygen, leading to increased breathing rate, which can decrease the amount of oxygen delivered to the muscles. When there is a lack of oxygen, the muscles are more prone to cramping.
Stress and anxiety
As mentioned earlier, certain nutrients can affect the frequency of muscle cramps, but mood also plays a role. Stress and anxiety can cause an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, leading to muscle cramps.
This is a common issue for athletes, manual laborers, and those who push their bodies too hard. Overuse of the muscles can cause fatigue, leading to injuries and muscle cramps. Overexertion can also deplete the body’s sugar levels.
Venous insufficiency in the legs
70% of cases of nighttime muscle cramps are due to venous insufficiency in the legs. Blockages in the veins can cause muscle stimulation, leading to cramps even while sleeping.
What to do to alleviate cramps?
Experts suggest that a healthy and balanced diet can help prevent cramps. However, in case you experience cramps, you can use the following methods to alleviate the pain immediately.
Stretching the muscle: There are three common cases and corresponding solutions as follows:
- Cramp in the foot: Stand straight, lean against the wall, bend the knee of the affected foot, and use your hand to pull it up towards the ceiling.
- Cramp in the calf: Stand straight, bring the affected leg forward, and bend your body in the same direction as the leg to let the body weight help stretch the cramping muscle.
- Cramp in the arch of the foot: Sit with your leg straight, use your hand to pull the affected foot, and stretch the muscle as much as possible. This method may cause more pain but can quickly relieve cramps.
Massage the muscle: In addition to figuring out what nutrients you lack when experiencing cramps, you should also know how to reduce muscle tension. One of the most effective ways is to massage and warm the affected area gently to avoid exacerbating the pain.
Apply heat to the muscle: Applying warmth is an effective way to reduce muscle tension and pain.
Walk barefoot: Instead of using your hand to exert pressure on the foot, you can walk barefoot and exert the weight of your body on the toes (the foot with cramps) to stretch the muscle.
What should be added when experiencing muscle cramps?
Once you understand the cause of muscle cramps, you need to take preventative measures to avoid this condition.
Drink enough water
To prevent muscle cramps, you need to make sure you drink enough water to replenish your body’s needs each day. Depending on your physical condition and activity level, the amount of water needed can range from 2 to 3 liters. Do not drink too little or too much water as this can lead to an electrolyte imbalance in your body.
Especially for those who frequently engage in sports, you need to prepare drinks that can replenish water and minerals to prevent muscle cramps.
Add potassium-rich foods
What is missing when experiencing muscle cramps? The answer may be that your body is deficient in potassium. Adults need to supplement up to 4,700 mg of potassium daily. Because this mineral plays an important role in the nervous system and muscle function. That is why your muscles cramp when lacking potassium.
Most natural foods contain varying amounts of potassium, so make sure you provide your body with the daily amount of potassium it needs through your diet. The food group with high potassium content that you can refer to are fruits, vegetables, milk, fish, bananas, cucumbers, citrus fruits. Additionally, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash are vegetables that contain abundant sources of potassium.
Supplementing Calcium-rich foods
As previously mentioned in the section on the causes of muscle cramps, a lack of calcium is one of the factors that contribute to this condition. Scientific research has shown that calcium deficiency increases the risk of muscle cramps and weakness.
An adult male needs approximately 100mg of calcium per day, and you can obtain 244mg of calcium by drinking a 200ml glass of milk with cream every day. Additionally, dark green vegetables are an excellent source of calcium, and you can also consider consuming nuts and seeds, which are also rich in calcium.
Supplementing with functional foods
Now that you know what nutrient deficiencies can cause muscle cramps and are working to supplement them through a balanced diet, you may still need to take supplements in the form of tablets or pills to add calcium, magnesium, potassium, and other essential vitamins to your diet if your nutrient absorption is not efficient.
Furthermore, to pinpoint the exact cause of muscle cramps, you should seek medical advice from reputable healthcare facilities. Through medical examination and tests, the underlying causes can be accurately determined, providing you with the correct guidance to manage this condition.
12 foods that help reduce muscle cramps
Have you figured out what nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps? If so, what foods can you eat to ensure that your body has enough nutrients and prevent muscle cramps? Let’s take a look at 12 foods that can help reduce muscle cramps.
When it comes to what to eat when experiencing muscle cramps, many people ask this question. The first food that this article wants to mention is avocado. It is a fruit that contains many nutrients and can help prevent muscle cramps.
With its rich potassium and magnesium content, avocado helps balance electrolytes in the body and contributes to muscle health. Electrolytes play an important role in muscle contraction, and the main reason for muscle cramps is the imbalance of electrolytes in the body.
Have you found the answer to what nutrient deficiency causes muscle cramps and what to eat to supplement it? One of the reasons is due to dehydration. Muscle activity requires a certain amount of hydration. Lack of water can hinder the contraction process of muscle cells, making muscle cramps more severe.
Watermelon can solve this problem. It is a fruit with an extremely high water content, up to 92%. Including watermelon in your diet is an excellent choice for hydration. Additionally, watermelon is also a source of potassium and magnesium for the body.
Athletes often choose coconut water to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes quickly. This beverage provides a rich source of electrolytes including calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and phosphorus. These minerals are the perfect answer to the question of what nutrients are lacking when experiencing muscle cramps.
Studies have shown that with 10 male athletes consuming coconut water as a thirst quencher, it is particularly necessary after high-intensity training sessions. Coconut water users are less prone to cramps due to increased electrical stimulation.
Salmon is an excellent source of protein. Its fat content also has strong anti-inflammatory properties, providing nutrients that help prevent muscle cramps. These nutrients include vitamin B, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Salmon is also a food source rich in iron, a nutrient necessary for the production of red blood cells and the oxygenation of muscle tissue. Iron is an essential element in combating sudden cramps.
Vitamin D is also highly sought after in this type of fish. 100g of salmon contains 85.555mcg of vitamin D. When provided with sufficient vitamin D, muscles are better nourished, avoiding muscle pain and spasms.
You are looking for the nutrient deficiency that causes muscle cramps. Smoothies are the first suggestion for this issue. This beverage not only quenches your thirst, but also provides a large amount of nutrients to your body.
You can mix ingredients such as spinach, yogurt, and almonds to create a delicious smoothie. A glass of smoothie can contain many vitamins and minerals that your body needs.
Although anchovies are very small, they contain nutrients that few other fish can match. Anchovies are rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and vitamin D, which helps prevent and reduce muscle cramps.
In addition, anchovies are rich in selenium, an important mineral for muscles. This is why anchovies are often mentioned in the topic of nutrient deficiency causing muscle cramps. Low selenium levels can weaken muscles and lead to muscle problems.
The next food that Ocany wants to introduce to you is sweet potato. This is a healthy root vegetable recommended by experts. Due to its diverse range of vitamins and minerals, sweet potato is an excellent food for fighting sudden cramps.
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all of which are important for muscles. With 200g of sweet potato, your body can get 20% of the daily requirement for potassium and 13% for magnesium.
If you’re wondering what nutrients are lacking in muscle cramps, don’t overlook yogurt. Yogurt is an incredibly healthy product, especially rich in nutrients, particularly minerals such as phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.
Muscles need calcium for smoother joint movements. Calcium deficiency in the blood increases the risk of muscle complications, including cramps and increased heart rate, which are related to the issue of vitamin deficiency in muscle cramps. Yogurt is an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium better.
In addition, yogurt is also an excellent source of protein, necessary for the growth and recovery of muscle tissue. Consuming yogurt after exercise provides a certain amount of nutrients, preventing post-workout cramps and muscle recovery.
You can use bone broth to reduce the incidence of muscle cramps. Apple cider vinegar, herbs, and spices are common ingredients added to increase the flavor and nutritional value of the broth. Here are the reasons why bone broth can reduce muscle cramps:
Bone broth is a filtering agent that provides water to reduce muscle cramps. Provides magnesium, calcium, and sodium, important minerals that help prevent muscle cramps.
You can try increasing the acidity level of apple cider vinegar by simmering it for 8 hours to increase the calcium and magnesium content in bone broth.
Papaya is a familiar fruit when it comes to deficiency of any nutrient. This fruit is extremely rich in potassium and magnesium.
You can find 15% potassium and 19% magnesium recommended by experts per day in one papaya weighing about 310g. Experiments on 230 women also showed that when the body takes in too little potassium, the frequency of muscle cramps also increases significantly. Therefore, consuming more potassium-rich foods, typically papaya, is a perfect way to avoid muscle cramps.
Both the stem and leaves of beets provide nutrients for the body. This is an excellent source of nutrition, supporting muscles and reducing the risk of muscle cramps.
Every 144g of cooked beets will have 20% of the recommended daily intake of potassium and magnesium. This vegetable is also a source of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B. These are extremely important nutrients for muscles.
In addition, beets contain a amount of nitrate that helps improve the function of blood vessels. This ensures blood circulation to the muscles. Maximizing the amount of blood to the muscles will reduce the occurrence of cramps.
If you suffer from muscle cramps and want to know what nutrient you’re lacking, try adding some fermented foods to your diet. One of them is pickles or kimchi, which contain a good amount of sodium to combat muscle cramps. Studies have shown that pickle juice can even help reduce muscle cramps in athletes.
Muscle cramps are a common issue that many people experience. Hopefully, this article on what nutrient you’re lacking if you suffer from muscle cramps will help you avoid this problem. If you’re still experiencing muscle cramps despite having a well-balanced diet, you should seek medical attention.
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.