Electrolytes and Nutrients involved in Muscle Cramps
Recent research suggests that a component of muscle cramps may be related to nitric oxide which dilates blood vessels and much more. Nitric oxide is abundant in foods such as beets, chocolate, fruits and vegetables. Beets contain nitric oxide which dilates the blood vessels allowing more blood and oxygen to become available to the muscles. According to a single study, beet root juice increased nitric oxide levels by 21% after 45 minutes. Beet root juice likely helps by allowing your muscles to go harder for a longer. Another molecule important in preserving nitric oxide is CoQ10. Organ meats (heart and liver), fatty fish, and poultry contain the highest amounts of CoQ10.
Magnesium is critical for muscle function, it is a nerve stabilizer, and when levels are low, the muscles become “twitchy.” As magnesium primarily resides inside of our cells, normal blood tests do not show a deficit. Magnesium is abundant in meats and dark green vegetables. A tea called Natural Calm™ is a magnesium supplement that is very well absorbed, and it is touted to aid sleep. Taking Slo mag™ tablets may help as well.
Pickle juice has been touted for years as a cure for muscle cramps. Research articles have indeed confirmed that pickle juice stops cramping, but not because it delivers salt or water quickly to the body. The cramping is stopped because of an oropharyngeal reflex that inhibits the neural signals causing the cramps to go away. Essentially the pickle juice tickles or hyper stimulates the mid throat area, overpowering the electric circuit causing the cramping. Another alternative may be ume plum vinegar. The Feed Zone Portables book has a nice excerpt on this subject.
An alternative to pickle juice may be The Right Stuff® salt packets. They are intended to be mixed with water, but during a cramping situation, one could consume this packet of salt in hopes of abating the cramps. Warning, the taste is very bitter.