muscle cramps

Woman drinking orange juice

Signs Of Vitamin Deficiencies

So here’s an interesting story. An American decides to live out his golden years in the tropics of Costa Rica. There he meets a German gentleman who owns a couple of acres about 10 miles away from the Pacific coast. A few months later, the American hears that the German gentleman was found singing at a bus stop, completely naked, emaciated, and sick and was promptly sent back to Germany to the waiting arms of his family to recover. How did this happen?

It turns out that the German had decided to put himself on a coconut water fast several months long. Upon examination, it was determined that not only was this man depleted of minerals, he also was suffering from a rather extreme vitamin B12 deficiency leading to hallucinations and psychosis. He was promptly pumped full of the vitamin he lacked and sent back to his tropical paradise to live out the rest of his days.

In these days of veganism, vegetarianism, cleanses and crash diets, vitamin deficiencies can be all too common, and, while you may not find yourself at the point of naked and singing at bus stops, you should be aware of some of the following signs alerting you that your vitamin intake is not where it should be.

Cracks Along the Corners of The Mouth
This can be a sign that you’re not getting enough zinc, B vitamin, iron or protein. Try putting some organic eggs and poultry in your diet, or try some wild caught Alaskan salmon, organic eggs and poultry or tahini. Also, get some vitamin C in there; it will help with iron absorption. Load up on the broccoli, kale, and cauliflower.

Scaly Red Rash and Hair Loss
If you suffer these symptoms, you may have a biotin deficiency. While the body needs biotin to metabolize fats, amino acids, and carbohydrates, it is probably most known for its ability to strengthen nails and hair and is also a key ingredient in most hair, skin and nail vitamin formulas and shampoos. If you’re looking to get some biotin from your food, cook up some raw egg white or down the whole egg raw. Eating raw egg whites alone can actually lead to a biotin deficiency.

Acne-like Bumps on Your Arms, Thighs, and Buttocks
These can be signs that you need more essential omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamins D and A. You can get omega-3 in anchovies and sardines or in a krill oil supplement. Vitamin A can be found in carrots, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and red bell peppers; and vitamin D can be obtained through safe exposure to the sun.

Numbness of Hands and Feet
Other signs of B-vitamin deficiency, tingling and prickling in the feet and hands are caused by the effects of the deficiency on the peripheral nerves and can include depression fatigue, anemia and hormone imbalance. If your feet are tingling, try to down some asparagus, spinach, organic eggs and poultry, or grass fed beef.

Muscle Cramps
Muscle cramps can be caused by a lack of magnesium, potassium and calcium. Combat this with some hazelnuts, squash, leafy greens, apples and broccoli.

Let the tale be a precautionary one. Take these steps now to avoid vitamin deficiency or risk public embarrassment. If you have any stories or advice about vitamin deficiencies or public embarrassment for that matter, we would love to hear from you! Feel free to send in comments and stories.

Woman doing push-ups at the gym

Avoiding Muscle Cramps During Exercise

So there’s this really cute guy at your gym. You feel emboldened because you just shed about 15 pounds and your new tank top reveals your newly flat belly. You see him on the treadmill. You give a little wave and smile. He waves and smiles back. Good sign. You maintain eye contact as you straddle the stationary bike. You feel his eyes on you as you start to pedal. And then…it happens! You are seized by a blinding shooting pain causing your leg muscles to spasm uncontrollably. Your face becomes a mask of agony. The cute guy looks away, horrified. You will never live this one down.
The most commonly accepted explanation for muscle cramps is dehydration, so most of us will try to combat a cramp with a glass of water. However, the reason for muscle cramps may be far more extensive and avoiding them may not be a simple as grabbing a glass of H2O.

Fluids
The jury on the effects of hydration on muscle cramps is still out. Some studies find there is no correlation between cramps and liquids, others show that fluids and electrolytes can be an effective way to avoid or delay muscle cramps. If dehydration is a cause of cramping, it would work something like this: When we don’t get enough to drink fluids outside our cells decrease and our nerve endings get crowded together, The result of this is a spontaneous discharge or a muscle twitch, leading to a muscle cramp. Proper hydration will prevent this from happening. So, to drink or not to drink? To drink of course. The benefits of staying hydrated during exercise are virtually never-ending, even if they don’t include the prevention of cramps. Experts agree that you let your thirst be your guide in determining the proper amount of fluid to drink and when to drink it.

Muscle Fatigue
Cramps are most common among beginner athletes and those who exercise too intensely because cramps are more likely to result from muscle fatigue. Exercisers should make sure to warm up muscles and pace their exercises to avoid strain. Adapting to heat may also cause cramps. When warmer weather arrives, take precautions to avoid starting workouts with too much intensity; don’t go from 0-100 too quickly.

Salt
Electrolytes are necessary for shifting fluids into and out of cells. Sodium is an electrolyte found in table salt. When it sweats, the body doesn’t just lose water, it loses sodium. Replacing the water without replacing the sodium can lead to dangerously low sodium levels, otherwise known as hyponatremia. This condition is most likely to occur during high endurance workouts which produce repeated sweating and can lead to painful cramping. Sodium can and should be replaced by snacking on salty foods or drinking sports drinks with high sodium levels.

Carbohydrates
Although some may claim they are the devil incarnate, carbs are still the main source of fuel for exercise. Carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in our muscles, and muscle cramps can set in when the store is exhausted. This is because our muscles use carbs to contract and also to relax. While exercise makes muscles contract, without enough fuel, muscle relaxation becomes impaired . If the muscle cannot relax, it can cramp.
Energy from carbs usually lasts through 60 to 90 minutes of exercise. Carbohydrates should be consumed if the workout exceeds that limit. Eat carbs before and during exercise, as needed.

So if you want to avoid those painful cramps, stick to these guidelines:

  1. Make sure to get appropriate training.
  2. Get used to the environment.
  3. Make sure your body gets enough fluids.
  4. Eat salty foods of high sodium sports drinks during, before and following exercise.
  5. Consume carbohydrates before working out and every 60 to 90 minutes thereafter.