Leg cramps at night, especially the excruciating “Charley Horse” cramps that occur in the calves, are most commonly due to poor tissue calcium utilization. Calcium, as most know is important for bone and joint heath, but it is also extremely important for the muscles. Calcium aids in muscle contraction and if low, can lead to muscle cramping. Most people get enough calcium in their daily diet, but they do not use it efficiently. Essential fatty acid metabolism is of utmost importance for calcium to be driven into the soft tissues (muscles) and prevent cramping. This means not eating foods containing trans fats, getting the proper amount of omega 3s (fish oil), saturated fats (butter, meats, coconut oil), and possibly some omega 6s (nuts, seeds,) fats in your diet. Without them, the calcium won’t be able to get into your muscles. Calcium also needs an acidic environment to work well for you. That is why supplemental forms of calcium carbonate, also known as oyster shell calcium, found in many popular brands of supplements (TUMS), is poorly absorbed and many times can cause problems. Calcium citrate and lactate supplements are best absorbed into the tissues. However, this does not mean that if you have leg cramps as described you should take lots of calcium. Although the deficiency may be the issue, more commonly it is the problem of absorption. If the essential fats in the diet are off in combination with other health problems such as poor digestion, these issues must be addressed for calcium to work for you. Other signs of calcium tissue “starvation” are: cold sores/fever blisters, canker sores, achy muscles especially in spring/summer during the first few days of yard work, itchy skin, and bursitis, to name a few.
/ / / I get bad leg cramps at night