Zone Fitness Personal Training Christchurch


Cramping and Magnesium Deficiency

Posted: 19 April 2012

Muscle cramps can be a pain in the back side! We’ve all had them at some stage and they are never pretty. For those of us who regularly suffer from cramps it is most likely due to a deficiency in the mineral magnesium. Magnesium and calcium are both important in the healthy function of muscle. For a muscle to contract calcium is used and to relax a muscle magnesium is used. If either of these minerals is low in your body then you are more likely to suffer from cramps. 

Most of us get adequate amounts of calcium from our diet although some people are low on this essential mineral. The real culprit however is normally magnesium. Magnesium is found in foods such as nuts (cashew and almond nuts especially), seeds (pumpkin seeds), whole grains, red meat, spinach and many more wholesome foods. Most people don’t eat enough of these wholesome foods and therefore it is important for people to take a magnesium supplement if cramping is a problem. 

Additional Magnesium Benefits

In addition to preventing muscle cramps and having optimum muscle function it is important to have adequate amounts of magnesium for energy production. Your body uses magnesium to make crucial enzymes called ATPase’s which are required for the synthesis of ATP. ATP is how your body delivers energy to your muscles. A deficiency in magnesium will mean less energy for exercise, which in turn means you don’t see the results you’re after. This is never good no matter what your goals are!

Other Symptoms of Low Magnesium are:

  • Low energy levels
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Weakening of bones
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Headaches

Other Dictating Factors for Muscle Cramps

In addition to magnesium there are many other factors that can influence muscle cramps. As we know calcium is important and so is vitamin D3 for the absorption of calcium (more sunlight anyone?). The minerals zinc, sodium and potassium and your level of hydration are also of big importance. These other factors are best left for another blog at a later date. If anyone wants to now more please contact me.

Take Home Message

If you are suffering from muscle cramps increase your magnesium intake! If changing your diet is not enough or not realistic then take a magnesium supplement. I personally use and recommend the Magnesium / Citrate Tablets from Solgar. These are of very high quality and have helped me enormously with my calf and hamstring cramps during Ju-Jitsu. I can get these at a discounted rate for anyone that is keen to get some.

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By Bastiaan Gresnigt