Monday, March 16, 2015

Marvelous Magnesium

A few years ago I began to experience leg cramps during the night while I was sleeping. They came on suddenly. Generally it was when I would stretch one leg or the other, and a cramp in my calf would occur and wake me up with a start! I had to jump out of bed and stand on that leg until the cramp disappeared. 

When I started running longer distances in 2012 while training for a half marathon, they got worse.  Sometimes they would be in my calves, and other times in my thighs.  And they seemed to be much more frequent and more painful on those nights after I had run hard during the day.

One of my friends who is registered nurse suggested that I might need to take a magnesium supplement.  So I started doing some research.  I checked a variety of medical web sites and did have a conversation with my general practitioner.  I discovered that magnesium is found in leafy greens, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. And I learned that most people just cannot eat enough of those foods to get the daily required amount for optimal health.  Magnesium deficiency is more prevalent amongst women.  And I also learned that magnesium absorption in the body can be affected by a variety of stressors, including heavy exercise.

Symptoms of magnesium deficiency can include cramps, migraines, fatigue, loss of appetite, depression, nausea and vomiting or high blood pressure.

I wondered what magnesium is actually needed for in our bodies.  I read that it is is an important mineral. Magnesium is required for the growth and maintenance of bones. Magnesium is also required for the proper function of many parts of the body including nerves and muscles. It also helps neutralize stomach acid and moves stools through the intestine.

I started experimenting with a magnesium supplement called Natural Calm. It is a powdered form of magnesium citrate.  I mixed it with water and drank it before bed every night. I had great success with it.  Most nights there was no cramping at all, or if there were cramps, they were less frequent and less painful.   It comes in a variety of flavors, although I actually prefer the non-flavored, and is quite palatable.  I have purchased it in both Canada and the U.S.

Aug 24 Natural Calm 001

When I travelled in the U.S. during the Summer last year I visited a Vitamin World store for the first time and was tempted to purchase a different brand there.  It is called Stress-X and I decided to give it a try.  It has a slightly different taste from the Natural Calm and took some getting used to… but not awful.  It is also effective for reducing my leg cramps.


Both of these products are gluten free, so they are suitable for my diet.

Now, I have not  ever been tested for a magnesium deficiency but through my own experiments, find that I am better off using a supplement.  I do still get the occasional leg cramping when I really overwork my legs.  So, on those days, I have started taking an additional dose of my powder mid-afternoon with good results. 

I think that, for me, the magnesium supplements have helped tremendously.

So, what might the side effects be, if one takes too much magnesium?  It’s simple. Diarrhea. Because magnesium is a stool softener, an overdose could cause diarrhea. I have never had this happen so it’s not something I even think about. Sorry if that is TMI.

Other than the symptoms I mentioned, what might make you suspicious about a magnesium deficiency?  I found a web site called ANCIENT MINERALS and an article there that suggests that if you can answer YES to any of these questions, you might have a magnesium deficiency:
  • Do you drink carbonated beverages?
  • Do you eat refined sugars?
  • Do you have a lot of stress in your life or are you recently recovering from a major surgery?
  • Do you drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis… tea, coffee, cola?
  • Do you take a diuretic, heart medication, asthma medication, birth control pills or estrogen replacement therapy?
  • Do you drink more than 7 alcoholic beverages a week?
  • Do you take calcium supplements without magnesium?
  • Do you experience any of the following:
    • Anxiety?
    • Times of hyperactivity?
    • Difficulty getting to sleep?
    • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Do you experience any of the following:
    • Painful muscle spasms?
    • Muscle cramping?
    • Fibromyalgia?
    • Facial tics?
    • Eye twitches, or involuntary eye movements?
  • Did you answer yes to any of the above questions and are also age 55 or older?
You know I am not a doctor, or a medical advisor so I am not giving any medical advice or suggesting you need to take magnesium. I am only sharing my experiences and my own research. You should do your own, certainly.

Do you have any experience with magnesium deficiency or supplementation?


  1. I take a daily calcium with magnesium supplement and I am positive it has good effects on my ability to sleep and stay asleep!

  2. Great info! I think the normal go-to when people experience leg cramps is potassium, so it's good to get the word out about magnesium as a potential, too.

  3. I use the same product and brand I love it.

  4. When I used to run {years ago} I got cramps all the time until my doctor recommended a magnesium supplement. Problem solved!

  5. I did not know magnesium was a "cure" for leg cramps. Good to know! I have hear that chocolate cravings were a sign if magnesium deficiency. Um yeah, I have those.

  6. I've never supplemented with magnesium, but I do know it helps with recovery after exercise as well. My massage therapist also recommended it in oil for leg cramps.

  7. My neurologist suggested that I take a magnesium supplement to help prevent my migraines. I'm not sure if the supplement has helped or not, but I'm willing to try almost anything to help prevent the horrible pain.

  8. uh oh I definitely answered yes to a few of those questions above! Never had leg cramps though. Something to look into for sure thanks!

  9. I think this is one of the reasons races will give out bananas at the finish line - also why I eat 2 a day!

  10. I'm not sur ei have a magnesium deficiency but I do get cramps like that in my foot. I get them after a long run, even trying on SHOES. I'm so good now I can tell when it is about to come on and proactively stand up on the foot to thwart the cramp. It hurts but not as bad as it used to because I am used to it now. My trainer told me to eat more potassium.

  11. My husband takes magnesium supplements after our homeopathic doctor tested him for a deficiency. And I was just talking to my running friend about her taking the supplement after long races.

  12. I don't take a magnesium supplement. I've never had issues with muscle cramping. I did when I was pregnant with my boys, but haven't since.

  13. Interesting! Is there a way to test for magnesium deficiency or is it more of a trial and error process?

  14. huh. i had no idea about this but have had bad cramps before. thanks so much for sharing!

  15. Very interesting! The only time I have had bad leg cramps at night was when I was pregnant, wonder if this would have helped then! I do drink coffee daily!

  16. Wow, sounds like I have a magnesium deficiency. I haven't taken my calcium with magnesum for awhile, I guess I should start again. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I had no idea about magnesium until I started personal training. My boss told me most women don't get enough magnesium, so I started taking asupplement. Though I haven't in forever because the pills were like horse pills lol. I should start up again, and I think I need to look into my iron levels as well.

  18. Interesting. I have had magnesium tea for muscle recovery at night but might look into drinking it on a regular basis.

  19. I have a slight deficiency. I take a supplement every couple of days and try to pick the right foods to keep everything in check. I can usually tell when I'm low because my restless legs start acting up a lot.

  20. I really need to be taking calcium, so I should probably look for some with magnesium. I've definitely had those night time leg cramps when I'm training hard...

  21. Great post Elle! Yes, many would look to potassium so a great post to help people out!!!!

  22. I read a lot about magnusium last year and was shocked by all that deficiencies can cause and how prevelant deficiencies are.

  23. Wow! This is very good information. I never knew anything about magnesium deficiency before. It sounds like the supplements are the perfect answer for you!


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