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A potential cause of leg cramps is a vitamin deficiency, though research into this is ongoing.
This article discusses whether vitamin deficiencies can cause leg cramps, home and medical treatment, and when a person should see a doctor.
According to BMJ Clinical Evidence, researchers do not know why people have leg cramps. The article indicates that common causes of leg cramps include exercise, pregnancy, and electrolyte and salt imbalances.
However, there is evidence that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause leg cramps.
Some of these vitamins and minerals, alongside their recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for adults, include:
|Vitamin or mineral||RDA for adults|
|Thiamine (vitamin B1)||1.1-1.2 milligrams (mg)|
|Cobalamin (vitamin B12)||2.4 micrograms (mcg)|
|Vitamin D||15 mcg (600 international units – IU)|
Please note that potassium has an adequate intake (AI) rather than an RDA. This is because there is not yet enough evidence to establish an RDA.
A person’s RDA or AI can change according to a range of factors, such as their age and sex and whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding. The above amounts are suitable for most adults.
There is a variety of vitamin supplements on the market. However, some of these products contain doses higher than the RDA. Always check with a doctor or healthcare professional before taking supplements to establish the correct dosage.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based.
The following supplements contain vitamin B1 and may help prevent leg cramps due to deficiency.
Nutricost Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
This product contains 120 vitamin B1 capsules.
Each capsule contains 100 mg of vitamin B1.
The capsules are non-GMO, gluten-free, and third-party tested.
Nutricost makes this product in a GMP compliant and FDA registered facility.
BulkSupplements Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1) Powder
The company recommend taking 125 mg of this powder per serving. Each serving contains 101mg of vitamin B12.
The company claim that this supplement supports metabolic function, the kidneys, and the nervous system. It also helps recovery from exercise.
BariMelts B1 Dissolvable Bariatrics Vitamins
The company has designed this product specifically for people who have had gastric bypasses, gastric sleeves, or lap band surgery. The tablets are dissolvable for ease of consumption.
Each tablet contains 12.5 mg of vitamin B1, and people should take 1 tablet a day.
According to BariMelts, this product is gluten-free, non-GMO, sugar-free, and made with natural flavors, sweeteners, and colors.
Foods high in vitamin B1
Some foods high in vitamin B1 include:
- whole grains
- brown rice
- pork and poultry
- dried beans
- fortified grain products such as cereal
Since most good food sources of vitamin B12 are not suitable for vegetarians or vegans, people following plant-based diets may benefit from a supplement.
Jarrow Formulas Methylcobalamin (B-12)
This product contains 60 chewable lozenges of vitamin B12. Each serving of 1 lozenge contains 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.
The company recommend chewing or dissolving 1 lozenge in the mouth every 3–4 days.
Wellabs Vitamin B-12 Extra Strength
This product comes in liquid form. The company makes this product in the United States.
It is vegan-friendly and is free from gluten, corn syrup, soy, and GMO.
Each serving of this product contains 5,000 mcg of vitamin B12.
The company recommend taking 2 drops a day to boost mood and energy.
Naturelo Vegan B12
Made in the United States, this product contains 100% natural, non-GMO ingredients. It is gluten-free, soy-free, and suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
It does not contain any coloring, flavoring, or preservatives.
Foods high in vitamin B12
Some foods high in vitamin B12 include:
The following vitamin D supplements may help prevent deficiency:
Fit Ox Vitamin D3 Gummies
This product contains 120 chewable gummies that are organic and strawberry flavored.
The company recommend taking 2 gummies per day with a meal, which provides 100 mcg (4,000 IU) vitamin D.
This product is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, and contains no preservatives.
Sports Research Vitamin D3+K2 Softgels
This product is 100% vegan and contains coconut oil and non-GMO ingredients.
It contains vitamin D3 and K2.
The company recommend taking 1 softgel as a serving.
Nature’s Bounty Vitamin D3
This product contains 240 softgels. The ingredients are non-GMO, gluten-free, sugar-free, and do not contain artificial colors or sweeteners.
The company recommend taking 1 softgel per day with a meal. Each serving contains 125 mcg (5,000 IU) of vitamin D.
Foods high in vitamin D
Some foods that are high in vitamin D include:
- fish, such as halibut, trout, and cod
- morel mushrooms
- beef and beef liver
- dairy products
- orange juice
Magnesium is a mineral that helps transport calcium and potassium across the body. Most magnesium in the body is in the bones, and the kidneys regulate how much magnesium is in the body at any one time.
A lack of magnesium may contribute to muscle cramps. Severe magnesium deficiency is rare, but low to moderate magnesium deficiency is not uncommon.
The following supplements may help prevent magnesium deficiency:
Nobi Nutrition Magnesium Complex Premium
This vegan product contains 60 U.S.-formulated capsules.
The company recommend taking 1 capsule one to two times daily with a meal.
The product contains 60 capsules.
Each serving contains 500 mg of magnesium.
Doctor’s Best High Absorption Magnesium
This product contains magnesium glycinate.
The company recommend taking 2 tablets two times a day.
Each serving contains 100 mg of magnesium.
The ingredients are non-GMO, gluten and soy-free, and vegan friendly.
SlowMag Mg Muscle + Heart
This product contains slow-releasing magnesium chloride and calcium.
The company formulates this product with slow releasing magnesium chloride to help the body better absorb this mineral.
The company recommend taking 2 tablets once or twice a day. Each serving contains 238 mg of calcium, 143 mg of magnesium, and 416 mg of chloride.
Foods high in magnesium
Some foods that are high in magnesium include:
- green vegetables such as spinach
- nuts, seeds, and unprocessed cereals
- meat products
Life Enhancement Potassium Basics
This product contains 240 potassium capsules. This product contains gelatin, making it unsuitable for vegetarians and vegans or people following certain religious or cultural diets.
The company recommend that people take 2 capsules daily, always with food. Each serving contains 1,020 mg potassium as potassium bicarbonate.
Nutricost Potassium Citrate
This product contains 500 capsules of potassium citrate.
The company makes this product in a GMP compliant, FDA registered facility.
This product contains gelatin and rice flour.
The company recommend taking 1 capsule per day. Each capsule contains 99mg of potassium.
Nature Made Potassium Gluconate
This product contains 100 potassium gluconate tablets.
The company recommend that people take 1 tablet per day with a meal and some water. Each serving contains 90 mg of potassium gluconate.
The ingredients are gluten-, preservative-, artificial flavor-, and color-free.
Foods high in potassium
Some foods high in potassium include:
Vitamin supplements may help prevent deficiencies that cause muscle cramps. However, other treatments may be more effective or offer more immediate relief for leg cramps:
There are some home remedies that people can try to reduce muscle cramps. These include:
- gently stretching the muscle that is cramping
- deep tissue massage
- warming up and cooling down before physical activity
- making sure to drink enough water to remain hydrated
There is little evidence that suggests medication for leg cramps is effective. However, doctors may prescribe the following medications:
Some people may have had quinine in the past. However, according to a 2015 article, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recommended that doctors avoid prescribing this medication for leg cramps.
People should see a doctor if they continuously experience leg cramps after exercise or the legs cramps are adversely impacting their ability to partake in daily activities.
There is some evidence that certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies may contribute towards people experiencing leg cramps.
Some supplements and foods may reduce vitamin or mineral deficiency, and people can use home remedies to reduce symptoms of leg cramps.