If too little magnesium is available to the body, the organism will nevertheless attempt to maintain a constant magnesium level in the blood. Therefore, in a deficit situation the body’s magnesium reserves are used – among them, those in the muscles.
Muscle and calf cramps: Magnesium deficiency as a frequent cause
The spectrum of muscle cramp causes extends from excessive physical exertion, through malpositioning of the legs, right through to alcohol consumption. However, with muscle and calf cramps, a magnesium deficiency is often present. Hardly surprising when you consider that magnesium plays an important role in our electrolyte metabolism – and thereby also for vital muscles.
Calf cramps and magnesium deficiency: Understanding the interrelationships
Muscles: The role of calcium, magnesium, etc.
- Calcium, sodium, and potassium are involved in the electrical excitability of the nerve cells
- Magnesium acts as a counterpart to calcium and supports the relaxation of the muscle
- Magnesium stabilizes the cell membranes regarding the inflow of sodium, potassium, and calcium and thereby reduces the electrical excitability of the nerve cells
An insufficient magnesium intake is the most well-known cause of muscle and calf cramps. But why can a lack of magnesium lead to cramps in the muscles? Here the role of magnesium for the balance of the electrolyte metabolism and for vital muscle function should be mentioned.
To explain in more detail: when the electrolytes magnesium and calcium are present in the right ratio to one another, there is the necessary balance between tension and relaxation in the muscles. If magnesium is lacking, this balance is lost, and healthy muscle function becomes impaired. The permeability of the membranes for sodium, potassium, and calcium increases, and the cramping tendency of the muscle is thereby facilitated.
Good to know: the fact that calf cramps occur more frequently at night relates to the “circadian rhythm” of the magnesium metabolism. This means that magnesium levels are subject to fluctuations over the course of the day and are lower at night than during the day.
When magnesium is lacking: This is how the organism reacts
When the magnesium level in the blood decreases, a balancing mechanism is brought into play: to maintain a constant magnesium level in the blood, the body’s own reserves are tapped. This means that magnesium is mobilized from the muscles and organs (containing approximately 39 % of our magnesium reserves) as well as from the bones (containing approximately 60 % of our magnesium reserves). The resulting deficit expresses itself in clinical symptoms such as calf cramps. Over time, however, further complaints can also occur, such as tension, twitching of the eyelids, fatigue, or exhaustion.
With persistently insufficient magnesium levels, it is eventually no longer possible to release sufficient magnesium into the blood from the magnesium reserves, and then the magnesium level in the blood also drops. This explains why magnesium deficiency can only be ascertained at a late stage through the measurement of the serum level in the blood.
Act in good time – keep your magnesium metabolism balanced
A magnesium deficiency doesn’t pass by unnoticed and over time can lead to diverse health consequences, so it’s all the more important to respond to the first signs – such as, for example, calf cramps.
High-dosage magnesium products (e.g., Biolectra® Magnesium 365 mg fortissimum effervescent tablets) treat the most well-known cause of calf cramps and are available in pharmacies.
Read more on the topic of help with muscle and calf cramps here.