Ouch! Leg Cramps? Use Magnesium to Ease Them

Updated on November 18th, 2019
Magnesium for Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are a sudden contraction in the muscle, and they have the potential to cause instant pain. Most of the leg cramps are experienced in calf muscle than thighs and feet. On a healthy tissue, cramp can last up to 10 minutes with the thigh leg cramp being the longest cramp.

If you have frequent muscle cramps, then it is possible that you are suffering from Magnesium deficiency or some other reason.

Importance of Magnesium

4th most abundant mineral in the body, Mg is one of the most vital minerals for the body’s smooth functioning. Transmission of nerve to contraction of muscles, Mg is involved in more than 200 biochemical processes of the human body.

The question is, “Can Magnesium for leg cramps be an effective remedy ?” Yes, it is! Read on

Quick Facts About Magnesium Deficiency

  1. Your body absorbs up to 30 percent less magnesium from foods as you age.
  2. Smoking and alcohol tend to reduce the level of magnesium in the body.
  3. Lower levels of magnesium are found in Processed foods.
  4. Due to low vitamin D levels, magnesium absorbed by the body is significantly reduced.

How Does Magnesium Work on Leg Cramps?

Magnesium Benefits

As a treatment for leg cramps, magnesium(1) is widely used, particularly in Latin America and Europe. However, clinical studies still find magnesium for leg cramps pains to be ineffective.

[Also Read: Treat Leg Cramps Naturally]

Here are some of the specific study results:

A 2017 study of 94 adults, a clinical trial was conducted to compare whether magnesium oxide capsules from a placebo capsule for reducing night cramps, concluded that placebo capsules are better than magnesium oxide supplements in reducing pains.

A 2013 review of seven randomized trials of magnesium for leg cramps(2) reviewed that magnesium therapy may have a small positive effect on pregnant women.

American Academy of Neurology conducted an assignment in 2010 and reported that:

  • A 2002 study where 58 people used magnesium citrate and did not find any significant results in the reduction of the number of cramps.
  • A 1999 study, found that it was no better than a placebo in reducing the frequency, severity, or duration of cramps.

[Also Read: Pickle Juice For Treating Leg Cramps]

Why Should We Use Magnesium?

According to some people, it does help, and it is safe to use. Increasing magnesium levels in our body may have other beneficial effects for people who have low magnesium levels in their bodies.

Athletes use magnesium & magnesium supplements to enhance their performance.

Magnesium has been found to be useful in treating people with the following conditions:

  1. Asthma
  2. Osteoporosis
  3. Migraine headaches
  4. Diabetes
  5. Heart disease
  6. Depression

[Also Read: Vitamins for Restless Legs Cramps]

How to Use?

Diet can become your primary source for magnesium. Approximately body absorbs 30% – 40% of daily magnesium from the food that you take from his diet.

Top sources:

almonds 80 mg
spinach 78 mg
cashews 74 mg
peanuts 63 mg
soy milk 61 mg
shredded wheat cereal 61 mg

Magnesium supplements: Magnesium oxide, magnesium chloride, and magnesium citrate are various forms available.

A study in 2015 suggests Magnesium citrate as its readily absorbed by our body, and it can be useful in treating the cramp instantly.

Magnesium for Leg cramps: How Much to Use?

Leg cramps

The magnesium requirement of a person depends upon age and gender. Suggested amounts of magnesium vary from people to people.

MEN: 400–420 mg/day

WOMEN: 310–320 mg/day

PREGNANT WOMEN: 350–360 mg/ day

[Also Read: Foods to Relieve Muscle Cramps]

Do’s and Don’ts

Prevention is always better than cure, so here are few tips :

1. Stretching

For people having a leg cramp, the following three stretches can provide relief:

  • Reach down and pull your toes toward your head until the cramp eases, in case of cramps in calf muscles.
  • Stretch out the cramped leg behind you and try lunging forward with the leg that isn’t cramped,
  • For a few seconds, stand on your toes.

It is proved that stretching done before sleeping at night, reduces the frequency and severity of night leg cramps.

A 2012 study was conducted on 80 adults aged over 55 found that people who stretched their calves and hamstrings before bed can lead to less painful leg cramps at night.

Walking, in general, can ease leg cramps.

2. Massage

Massage the affected area; it may help.

3. Ice or heat

  • Use an ice pack or a heating pad on the cramp(wrap it inside a cloth so that it’s not directly on the skin), for 15 to 20 mins.
  • Take a hot bath or shower.

4. Hydration

Hydration seems to be in the remedy list for pretty much everything. Stay hydrated and try to avoid alcohol. A study suggested a relation between alcohol consumption and leg cramps at night.

5. Medication

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be found useful in relaxing pain from muscle spasms. Topical pain-relieving creams, such as Bengay or Biofreeze, can also be helpful.

A muscle relaxant medicine could be useful.

Some people, including pregnant women, older people might find magnesium effective in treating nocturnal leg cramps. Magnesium has other health benefits as well. The anecdotes from people who have benefitted from magnesium for leg cramps don’t back the scientific research on the same topic. However, Magnesium citrate may be the most effective type if you want to try a supplement.


1. What Type of Magnesium Can Be Used for Leg Cramps?

A: Magnesium citrate, glycinate, aspartate or malate can be used for leg cramps. Magnesium glycinate has the highest absorption rate in the human body and is gut-friendly, hence it is highly recommended. Magnesium citrate is also used as it provides mental and muscle relaxation, and relaxes cramps in muscles.

2. What Is the Best Magnesium Supplements for Leg Cramps?

  • Magnesium chloride.
  • Magnesium sulfate.
  • Magnesium citrate.
  • Magnesium oxide.
  • Magnesium orotate.
  • Magnesium L-threonate.
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