Leg cramps are an involuntary contraction of muscles located in calf muscles. It can also affect the muscles of the thigh and foot. It appears mostly at night. It can develop in any person at any age. However, it is quite common in people who are in between 20-40 years of age. It is often associated with strenuous exercises, nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, pregnancy, etc. Low vitamin D in the blood may be one of the causes of leg cramps as it reduces the level of calcium that participates actively in the contractions and relation of the muscles.
Can Low Vitamin D Cause Leg Cramps?
Vitamin D is derived from sunlight, fortified milk, and some fishes. This vitamin is metabolized and stored in the liver. It is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. It is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an important nutrient required for growth and formation of bones. It also enhances the absorption of calcium in the body. It plays an important role in providing strength to the muscles. It is also involved in the development of the fetus in pregnancy. Even after proper exposure to sunlight, and a proper diet, vitamin D deficiency may happen.
Low levels of vitamin D can happen at any point in life. The causes of low vitamin D are-
- Low dietary intake
- Less exposure to sunlight is seen in people who remain at home much and in people who live in northern latitudes.
- The high requirement in pregnancy that can cause low levels of vitamin D in the blood.
- Dark skin color with high melanin affects the absorption of vitamin D in sunlight.
- Improper functioning of kidneys in old age can cause vitamin d deficiency.
- Improper absorption of vitamin D in the digestive tract due to diseases like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, etc.
- Obese people may suffer from low levels of vitamin D in the blood due to the high deposition of vitamin D in the fat cells. (1) (3)
Low levels of vitamin D may lead to pain in the bone and muscular weakness. It may lead to a decrease in muscle tone. Low levels of vitamin D affect the absorption of calcium. Low levels of calcium influence the functions of both nerves and muscles. It causes involuntary contraction of muscles. It may result in muscle cramps in the legs.
The muscles of the lower leg and foot are prone to develop cramps. Leg cramps are characterized by the presence of hard lumps in the muscle or tissue under the skin resulting in the pain in this area. Muscular cramps may appear anywhere in the body, but leg cramps are most common. They are located in the calf muscles and muscles of back or front of thighs.(2)
Leg cramps are caused by overuse of muscles during intense physical activities, heavy weight bearing exercises, injury, alcoholism, pregnancy, dehydration, and deficiency of magnesium, sodium or calcium in your diet and many more. It occurs in adults in the age of 20-40 years.
Vitamins have many roles to play in leg cramps and functions of bones and muscles. They comprise of carbons that are used widely in our body. They are found in a variety of sources such as food, and sunlight.
Vitamins are required in our body for various biological functions. They play a significant role in absorption, synthesis, and utilization of various other nutrients and minerals in our body. They are important for muscle, nerves and bone growth.
Leg cramps are involuntary spasms of the leg muscles appearing especially in the midnight. It can be caused by low vitamin D levels in the blood. Vitamin D is lowered in conditions where there is low dietary intake, low exposure to sunlight and others discussed above.
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