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Magnesium & Other Supplements for Muscle Pain & Cramps -- woman with leg cramp

Answer:

Topical magnesium products such as MagPro, Fibro Flex and BetterYou are often promoted as easy, effective ways to get magnesium and to reduce muscle pain and cramps, improve flexibility, and promote relaxation and sleep. However, there is little reliable clinical evidence showing these products are effective and topical magnesium products may cause skin irritation, itching and rash. (Note: Some companies claim this irritation is a sign of magnesium deficiency, but this is not scientifically supported). For more details, see the Magnesium Creams, Sprays and Oils section of the Magnesium Supplements Review, which also reviews the evidence for magnesium supplements for leg cramps.

Can other supplements help?
Other supplements can be helpful for muscle cramps and pain caused by specific conditions. For example, CoQ10 can reduce statin-related muscle pain and cramps, and taurine has been shown to reduce the number and severity of muscle cramps in people with cirrhosis.

There is some evidence that curcumin (from turmeric), tart cherry juice, and a particular omega-3 supplement may help to reduce exercise-related muscle pain (delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)).

To date, topical CBD (cannabidiol) cream has not been found to help with exercise-related muscle pain.

Other vitamins & minerals and deficiencies
Deficiency in vitamin B6 may cause painful muscle cramps.

Coconut water is sometimes promoted to prevent muscle cramps because it is a rich source of potassium, a mineral which is essential for proper muscle and nerve function. Potassium deficiency can cause muscle spasms. However, there are no good studies on the effects of coconut water on muscle cramps. Additionally, nighttime muscle cramps and exercise-related muscle cramps do not appear to be related to potassium levels — but be aware that getting too much potassium has actually been reported to cause leg cramps.

Leg cramps were reported in an individual in a clinical trial who was taking a form of niacin (nicotinamide riboside) sold as Niagen.

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24 Comments

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william22922
July 14, 2021

Leg cramps can have a muscular or vascular cause, you need to see doctor first to find out what is causing the cramping. It might be dehydration.

N22921
July 14, 2021

I have been successfully taking high dose magnesium for years for muscle cramps. When I run out or recently lower the dose, my cramps return or worsen. Recently I cut back on my potassium and noted more leg cramps. I have resumed my potassium with successful results. So the combo of magnesium and potassium keep me pain free.

ConsumerLab.com
July 14, 2021

We are glad that your muscle cramping has eased, but please note that although potassium as well as magnesium deficiency can cause muscle spasm, supplementation with magnesium or potassium has, unfortunately, not been established as clinically effective in treating muscle cramps, as discussed in our Potassium Supplements Review ( https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/potassium-supplements-review/potassium/#whatitdoes) and Magnesium Supplements Review ( https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/magnesium-supplement-review/magnesium/#legcramps).

Patricia22917
July 14, 2021

Probably 30 years ago I was dealing with severe every night leg cramps and my doctor prescribed Quinine (which is no longer prescribed). While taking, it definitely worked but did I want to take it for a long time so I read up on muscle cramps and how our bodies sometimes don’t process minerals etc correctly. I found Nature Bounty Cakcium, Magnesium, Zinc capsules and started taking and no more cramps. Ran out of my supply & store was out so ai thought maybe don’t need to take anymore - wrong as leg cramps returned. I take daily and no more leg cramps.

ray19085
February 10, 2020

My Husband had been having real problems with leg cramps at night. Most nights. We take magnesium capsules. I got some magnesium foam (in pump bottle) for him, and it made a dramatic difference. He won't be without it now.....and he rarely gets the cramps at night.

LYNN22772
June 17, 2021

I tried magnesium, but it didn't work. Potassium gluconate, about 1/3 tsp. works for me, usually in about 15-20 minutes. I get leg/foot cramps, in different places, at night after exercise, even if I don't sweat much. I started having the leg cramping after dances ( about 2 1/2 hours of Contra Dancing or English Country Dance) at about age 60. I've also been taking generic Benicar during that time for high blood pressure. Since one of it's actions is diuretic, causing me to pee about every hour, my suspicion is that it's depleting electrolytes. So glad magnesium is working most nights for you. If there is still a problem, try potassium. Just be careful with amount of any of these chemicals. I read, further down, that Niagen caused this problem for a person and wonder, since I also take it, if it's contributing to my problem. Will stop it for a few months.

Gerald18697
December 4, 2019

I HAVE BEEN USING MAGNESIUM OIL MIXED WITH DMSO FOR MY RLS.
IF REALLY WORKS FOR ME....

Bill18123
July 10, 2019

I find 1/4 teaspoon to 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg before bed effective in reducing leg cramps. More nutmeg will cause problems, and large quantities are dangerous

ConsumerLab.com
July 29, 2019

Hi Bill - Thank you for sharing your experience with this. There is some evidence that nutmeg may have some analgesic and/or sedative properties (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12616960), although there do not appear to be studies in people for these uses. As you noted, large doses (5 grams or more) can be toxic, causing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion, hallucinations and seizures (https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/plantox/detail.cfm?id=7463; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4057546/). In one reported case, significant confusion, dizziness and drowsiness was reported in a women who had consumed 2 teaspoons of nutmeg (a little under 5 grams) (http://www.njmonline.nl/getpdf.php?id=1536).

Susan17103
August 26, 2018

My husband uses Mg lotion,I use Mg spray, we both have seen a big reduction in cramping.I find if I feel near to a cramp at bedtime or during night spray avoids my cramping.

Tim and Joe16595
March 16, 2018

I am a competitive athlete (Scottish Highland Games), and the events that I participate in are high intensity - long duration events that have athletes crawling off the field of competition after 8-10 hours of competition. needless to say, there is a lot of muscle soreness at the end of such a competition. To keep this short, I won't bore you, but I experimented and used mag oil on only leg after competition. The next two days had a markedly difference between the two legs. no soreness on leg that I used the mag oil, normal soreness & tightness on the leg without. I use it after EVERY competition now.

Mildred16560
March 11, 2018

Regarding your report on topical magnesium products: my elderly mother suffers from Restless Leg Syndrome and when it hits (about every other night) the only relief she can get is by using spray-on magnesium (salts). True that it tends to dry the skin, but the relief is remarkable. Usually within 30 minutes, or less, she is back to sleep with no further RLS.--

ConsumerLab.com
March 12, 2018

Hi Mildred - Thank you for sharing this. You may be interested in our CL Answer about supplements for restless leg syndrome https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/do-any-supplements-help-for-restless-legs-syndrome/supplements-restless-legs-syndrome/.

Lesley16557
March 11, 2018

" little reliable clinical evidence showing these products are effective " doesn't mean they don't work. After years of exposure to pesticide (over 20 years ago now), I now get cramps in my feet and up the front of my shins only if I've inadvertently been exposed to pesticide again or, interestingly, those plug-in room deodorisers. Magnesium oil rubbed onto the spot will give almost instant, complete relief and I know many elderly people who wake in the night with horrible cramp, who have the same result magnesium oil.

ConsumerLab.com
March 12, 2018

Hi Lesley - Thank you for sharing your experience with magnesium oil.

gail16554
March 11, 2018

I have a genetic muscle disorder that causes my muscles to painfully contract and not release. I do get botox injections every 3 months and that does help but I am limited to how much botox I can receive at one time. This being the case, I have the injections in my upper traps since they are the worse.

I found out about magnesium oil some years back and it has been able to give me relieve in my other muscles that are contracted.

It's important to buy magnesium oil with no water added, just magnesium chloride.

I know for a fact, from my personal experience, that this type of magnesium oil works. Since my muscles are so tightly contracted, I don't spray it on but pour some into my hands and apply it generously. I then wrap the area with saran wrap. I do this at night while watching tv and remove it before going to bed.

I know that this sounds extreme but desperate times call for desperate measures!

I hope that this helps someone out there :)

daliya 16566
March 12, 2018

thanks for the tips. I think the saran wrap keeps it warm and that might be a lso healing
can you have baths with magnesium sulpate befre bed. Sorry for your struggles. I tale 1000mg of magneuim and tumeric and berberine and bone borth and that seems to help as well .

ConsumerLab.com
March 19, 2018

Hi Daliya - Thank you for sharing this; however, that is a large dose of magnesium. Please see the What to Consider When Using ( https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/magnesium-supplement-review/magnesium/#using) and Dosage ( https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/magnesium-supplement-review/magnesium/#dosing) sections of the Magnesium Supplements Review.

Patty16552
March 11, 2018

Regarding effectiveness of topically applied magnesium, I was surprised and abit dismayed you did not review the work of Dr Norm Shealy. This slightly shakes my faith in your process.

ConsumerLab.com
March 12, 2018

Hi Patty - We discuss Dr. Shealy's research and the issues with it in the Magnesium Creams, Sprays and Oils section of the Magnesium Review: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/magnesium-supplement-review/magnesium/#spray

Patty16565
March 12, 2018

Thank you.

ConsumerLab.com
March 12, 2018

You're welcome Patty!

nanci23264
August 28, 2021

I'm surprised no one mentioned putting soap under their sheets. It's an old folk remedy and I don't know how it works, but it does. I'm a huge skeptic but had such horrible foot cramps every night, I heard about it and decided to try it. I put a bar of lavender soap (wrapped in a paper towel) in between the sheet and the mattress pad. I don't think it matters what kind of soap it is. I like the smell of lavender. I swear I have not had foot cramps since I started doing this years ago. It's a cheap and safe remedy worth trying.

ConsumerLab.com
August 28, 2021

There does not appear to be clinical evidence to support this approach, although many people say it works. A good article about this was published by The People's Pharmacy (https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/articles/soap-under-the).

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