What are muscle cramps?
Most of us have had cramp somewhere in our lives – nasty grabbing spasmy tightness, that you have to stretch or rub to stop the pain. There’s no mistaking that classic feeling when it takes over, usually at night, or when it’s least expected.
Cramp is actually an uncontrolled contraction of one of your muscles, and can last several minutes, or hours. They are usually a sign of low sodium, potassium or magnesium – all of which your muscle fibres need to be able to work normally. A deficiency leaves them prone to cramping, during or without even doing any exercise if your levels of these key nutrients are low enough.
Why does magnesium help?
Magnesium (along with Sodium and Potassium) and key ingredient needed by the body to reduce physical and mental stress. Your body can be depleted in it’s stores of these minerals due to prolonged stresses that we are all guilty of inflicting on our bodies.In particular for mental health – low Magnesium has shown to be a factor in disorders such as anxiety, OCD, fatigue and stress-related conditions, particularly negative emotional states.
Am I deficient in Magnesium?
An Australian study recently showed that almost 40% of surveyed adults were low in Magnesium. I think it is fair to say that in NZ we most likely follow this pattern also.
Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include:
- Fatigue / Lethergy
- Numbness / tingling
- Spontaneous muscle contractions
- Tension headaches / Migraines
- Increased frequency of muscle strains
- Muscle cramps
- Abnormal heart rhythm (palpitations)
- Exaggerated inflammation response to injury.
What does the body use Magnesium for?
The body uses Magnesium for over300 different processesevery day. This includes making proteins to repair or create new cells, production of cellular energy, energy storage, production of DNA, stabilisation of cell membranes, maintenance of bone metabolism, maintain good tone of blood vessels, conduction of signals between muscles and nerves, contraction of muscles, including the skeletal muscles (the one we use to pick things up or kick a ball) heart, and gut muscles.
In one study which used Magnesium for muscle cramps – 86% of women taking a high quality supplement (magnesium bisglycinate) had at least 50% reduction in frequency of leg cramps and 69.8% of them has a decrease in intensity of leg cramps.
Magnesium for Atheletes
During exercise, there is an increased demand for magnesium, and an increase in loss of magnesium through sweat / increased metabolism. Sports persons can take magnesium during training, an pre-and post event to give their muscles everything they need to perform at their best and not suffer cramps during or afterwards. Great for those of you brave enough to be considering training for a marathon in the next few months, or even for those of you who have had a tough season of Hockey, netball or Rugby through the winter season.
Not all Magnesium is created equally…..
If you want to try Magnesium, make sure you buy a good quality supplement. Check with the Pharmacist to see if it is okay to take alongside any other medications. Especially heart medications and for people with sensitive gut disorders. It’s not good thinking that Magnesium doesn’t work for you if you haven’t given it a good go with a quality brand. You tend to get what you pay for with supplements….
At ThreeSixty, we recommend a high quality powder, which dissolves in water or juice, created by a company of Naturopaths called Metagenics. From our patients who take it, they feel results within 24 hours, but it is very potent stuff. We have access to Naturopaths working for Metagenics to tell us if it will be good for you. Anyone over 14 years old can take it, but we start you off on a small dose, just to be sure it suits you.