Cramps and Self-Experimentation

Does too little potassium cause cramps? Quite possibly:

Dr. Stephen Liggett, a professor of medicine and physiology at the University of Maryland, . . . got terrible cramps in his calf during yoga. The culprit, he decided, was the drugs he takes for asthma, which can diminish the body’s supply of potassium. He knew that potassium is sold over the counter. But because high levels of potassium can be dangerous, store-bought potassium supplements are not very strong. . . . Before he does yoga, he measures the potassium levels in his blood before and after taking what he describes as a hefty dose of over-the-counter supplement. Then he calculates how much additional potassium he thinks he needs, securing it from concentrated potassium tablets from his research lab — how much he declined to say.”I didn’t want to drink two gallons of Gatorade,” Dr. Liggett explained. He hasn’t had cramps since he began ”preloading,” as he calls it, with potassium. But, he said, ”I haven’t done a controlled trial.”

Thanks to Evelyn Mitchell.

Addendum. Someone commented that the potassium/cramps connection is widely known. And he or she is right. No wonder Dr. Liggett didn’t do a “controlled trial”.

2 Replies to “Cramps and Self-Experimentation”

  1. Any pregnant woman will confirm this is true. With both of my pregnancies, I experienced horrible leg cramps/charlie horses once I hit the 3rd trimester. By that point in the pregnancy, the body is pretty much at its limit and potassium is depleted quickly. To remedy this, I ate a banana before bed every night. On the nights I did that, no cramps. The nights I skipped my banana(s), I woke up with horrible charlie horses and cramps. Proof enough for me!

  2. I thought this was established science. I take potassium supplements whenever I do something I suspect will diminish my blood levels, and I regularly include bananas in my diet for this very reason. Recently, I’ve added B-12 supplements too after some searching on the internet.

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