What is the Best Magnesium Supplement for Leg Cramps?

As far as muscle cramps are concerned, both the magnesium glycinate and magnesium citrate forms are effective and both are well absorbed by the body. The one from Integrative Therapeutics contains magnesium citrate chelate, which is absorbed more quickly and is less likely to cause diarrhea. Magnesium citrate may be the most effective type if you want to try a supplement. The most effective natural treatment for leg cramps is to take a very highly absorbed unbuffered magnesium bisglycinate supplement every night before bedtime.

There are many different types of magnesium on the market and it is important to understand the difference and know which type to choose and why. Magnesium sulfate is the form of magnesium in Epsom salts. Many people add Epsom salts to baths and foot baths to soothe sore muscles. However, there is little high-quality evidence to show that the body can absorb a lot of magnesium from magnesium sulfate baths.

Are you ready to learn more about the best magnesium supplements for leg cramps on the market? These are the ones on our top ten list. Although magnesium is found naturally in a variety of foods, including leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and even dark chocolate, the body only absorbs 30 to 40 percent of the magnesium consumed in the diet. That's why supplementation is also often recommended. To prevent cramps, I would recommend taking 400 mg daily as magnesium glycinate, says Gargiulo.

Briden and Schneider agree with Gargiulo's suggestion to supplement with magnesium glycinate while avoiding the harsher forms of magnesium, such as magnesium oxide, magnesium hydroxide and magnesium chloride. An official website of the United States Government. gov means it's official. Federal government websites usually end in .gov or .grand.

Before you share sensitive information, make sure you're on a federal government site. Skeletal muscle cramps are common and often present to doctors in association with pregnancy, old age, exercise, or motor neuron disorders (such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Magnesium supplements are marketed for the prophylaxis of cramps, but the effectiveness of magnesium for this indication has never been evaluated through a systematic review. Seven trials were identified (five parallel, two crossed) that enrolled a total of 406 people, of which 118 cross-over participants additionally served as their own controls.

Three trials enrolled women with pregnancy-associated leg cramps (N %3D 20) and four trials enrolled patients with idiopathic cramps (N %3D 322, including crossover controls). Magnesium was compared to placebo in six trials and no treatment in one of them. Meta-analysis was not possible for the pregnancy-associated leg cramps trials. The single study comparing magnesium with no treatment found no statistically significant benefit on a three-point ordinal scale of overall treatment efficacy.

The two trials comparing magnesium to placebo differed in that one trial found no benefit in frequency or intensity measures, while the other found benefits for both. Withdrawals due to adverse events were not significantly different from placebo. While we were unable to determine the number of subjects with minor adverse events, studies of oral magnesium generally described potential side effects as similar in frequency to placebo. Exercise-associated muscle cramps occur during or immediately after intense exercise, usually in exercising muscle groups (Schwellnus 200).

Conversely, cramps associated with pregnancy or old age occur in the legs or feet during periods of prolonged inactivity, such as when lying in bed at night, when they are called resting cramps or nocturnal leg cramps. Resting cramps associated with aging are very common in general practice. Within a general medical population in the United Kingdom, approximately one-third of men and women over the age of 50 reported experiencing cramps at rest during the previous two months and of those who experienced such cramps, 40% had cramps three or more times a week and six percent suffered cramps every night (Naylor 199). Although they may occasionally occur in the same patients and share a similar name, cramps at rest and restless legs syndrome should not be confused.

Restless legs syndrome is not painful and has no palpable muscle tension, rather it is an unpleasant feeling of “need to move” the legs that prevents relaxation. Magnesium (Mg) is the fourth most abundant mineral in the human body and a normal component of a typical diet. Foods that are generally high in magnesium include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and unrefined grains. Oral magnesium supplements are also widely available without a prescription and many of them are actively marketed for cramp prophylaxis.

Such supplements are magnesium salts and typically combine magnesium with citrate, lactate, gluconate, malate, orotate, chloride, oxide, carbonate, hydroxide, sulfate or combinations of these anions. Most are in tablet form, but some are available as liquid suspensions or as powders or crystals to be dissolved in water. Magnesium is largely absorbed in the small intestine both by passive diffusion and by a saturable active transport mechanism that results in a smaller percentage of oral magnesium ingested being absorbed as the dose increases (Graham 1960; Quamme 200). As a result, higher doses of oral magnesium salts can cause diarrhea due to osmotic fluid retention within the colon.

Some magnesium salts, such as magnesium sulfate and magnesium hydroxide, are commonly used as laxatives for that reason. In addition to diarrhea that occurs with high doses, oral magnesium supplements are generally considered safe and relatively free of adverse effects.

Miranda Jimeno
Miranda Jimeno

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