What Deficiency Causes Leg Cramps At Night?


Do you suffer from those nagging leg cramps at night? It can turn out to be quite painful and also disrupt your sleep. However, many suffer from the same problem as yours. The American Family Physician website reports that up to 60% of adults experience the problem of nocturnal leg cramps or leg cramps at night. In this article, we delve deep into the deficiencies that cause leg cramps at night. We also discuss the various tried and tested techniques to overcome this problem.

Top 3 Deficiencies That Cause Leg Cramps At Night

Deficiency Of Vitamin D3

One of the major reasons behind your leg cramps is a deficiency of Vitamin D3. Since it is also a precursor hormone, the availability of Vitamin D3 can influence the production of various hormones in your body. 

Solution – Eat foods high in Vitamin D3 such as fish, eggs, beef liver, and cheese. Getting exposed to sunlight is also a good source of Vitamin D3.

Deficiency Of Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is important for the neurological functioning of your brain. Any muscle contraction starts from your brain and a deficiency of Vitamin B12 can lead to muscle cramps.

Solution – Make sure that you eat foods rich in Vitamin B12 such as animal liver and kidneys, sardines, beef, salmon, milk and dairy products, and eggs.  

Deficiency Of Zinc

The third factor that causes leg cramps is the deficiency of zinc. It is a trace mineral and your body needs it in small quantities.    

Solution – Have foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables that are good sources of zinc.

Major Causes Of Night Leg Cramps

Apart from the deficiencies mentioned above, night leg cramps can also happen due to the below reasons.

  • Kidney failure, diabetic nerve damage, and problems with blood flow
  • Addison’s disease – A condition in which adrenal hormones do not produce sufficient hormones
  • Anemia
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Cirrhosis
  • Dehydration

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Top 7 Tips To Get Relief From Leg Cramps At Night

1. Stretch before going to bed

Gentle stretching exercises are a great remedy for preventing leg cramps at night. Practice simple stretches such as toe touches, calf raises, and hamstring stretches. It not only relaxes your muscles but also prepares them for rest. When you suffer from a leg cramp, stretch it out immediately by grasping your thumb. If it’s a case of thigh cramp, stand up and straighten your body.

2. Apply heat or cold

Before going to bed, apply a warm compress or heating pad to your legs. It relaxes your tense muscles and improves blood circulation. 

3. Be hydrated

Dehydration is one of the culprits behind your leg cramps at night. To avoid this, drink adequate amounts of water throughout the day. This will help your body to stay hydrated. Once you are properly hydrated, it aids in maintaining electrolyte balance and prevents muscle spasms. 

4. Consume higher amounts of potassium

Low levels of potassium can also cause muscle cramps. To overcome this problem, eat foods high in potassium such as oranges, bananas, spinach, potatoes, and yogurt. However, if you are having any underlying health issues such as kidney problems, then speak to your doctor before increasing the potassium intake.

5. Try magnesium supplements

A magnesium deficiency can cause muscle cramps. It is recommended to take magnesium supplements after consulting with a dietitian or nutritionist.

6. Take an Epsom salt bath

When you take an Epsom salt bath, it relaxes your muscles and provides relief from the discomfort caused by leg cramps. The first step is to add two cups of Epsom salt to warm bathwater. It should be followed by soaking your legs for around 15 to 20 minutes, before bedtime.

7. Do a massage

By doing a gentle massage, you benefit from relieved muscle tension and improved blood flow. Try circular motions and apply gentle pressure on your legs.

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The article throws light into the lesser-known aspects of deficiencies that cause leg cramps at night. As you age, the risk of suffering from night leg cramps also increases. However, by following the tips discussed above, you can easily keep night leg cramps at bay.



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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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