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Muscle Cramps Spasms and Charley Horses

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 05/24/2014

Muscle cramps, adorably known as the Charley horses, is when the muscles in certain parts of your body like the arms and legs stiffen. The question is what causes Charley horses?

There are four main causes of this and there are medication side effects, too much calcium, and too little magnesium and potassium.

The first cause is the side effects of medications, mostly medicines for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, as well as prednisone. They affect the contraction and relaxation of the muscles, especially at night.

Second is having too much calcium in the body. Calcium causes muscle contraction, especially when you’re experiencing acid reflux or some digestive problems and with that, the calcium doesn’t get mobilized. Taking a lot of calcium carbonate supplements could also lead to this condition. Calcium carbonate is like rocks and they tend to plug things up, so you have to balance it up by getting enough vitamin D, K2, and omega-3 fatty acids.           

The third cause of muscle cramps is having low magnesium levels in the body. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Taking some when you have cramps can instantly get rid of the stiffness. Better yet, take calcium magnesium with a 1:1 ratio.

Lastly, it’s having too little potassium. This mineral is an electrolyte – electrically charged particles – needed for muscle function. Vegetables are rich in potassium and the body needs about 4 700 mg potassium every single day to function well. That’s about seven to ten cups of vegetables, and no wonder people often get muscle cramps because they’re not getting enough minerals. Stress and sugar can also deplete potassium.

Also bear in mind the sources where you’re getting these minerals. Good sources of calcium would be European or cheese from grass-fed animals. Some dairy like kefir and yogurt are good sources. Going natural instead of taking pills all the time is still best.


Discover some information about muscle cramps, spasms, and charley horses and see more Body Conditions from Dr. Berg Video Blog.

For more information about Dr. Berg's 3-day intensive program in Alexandria, Virginia, call 703-354-7336.

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