More on nighttime leg cramps

There are many conventional ways to prevent nocturnal leg cramps. What follows are some of the lesser-known approaches..

Magnesium pills. There is solid evidence that pills containing several hundred milligrams (mg) of magnesium can help pregnant women with leg cramps. Whether the pills help others is more of a toss-up. British researchers reported positive results in the late 90s, but their study was funded by a company that makes magnesium pills and other alternative medicines. A different study of similar design, published several years before, found no difference between magnesium and a placebo.

Even if magnesium pills don't help with leg cramps, they might have other benefits. High intake seems to protect against heart attacks and strokes. But most experts say that it's best to get the mineral from food. For some people, the pills cause diarrhea or nausea. Besides, foods rich in magnesium are the ones you should be eating anyway: whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal), almonds, spinach, and beans.

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