This archived forum used to be called 'Peatarian' (in reference to Ray Peat).

I have cramps in my legs that are affecting my quality of life.

In August of 2012, I bought into the brainwashing of veganism. How could so many highly qualified physicians be wrong? I bought the package deal, i.e., The Starch Solution, Michael Greger's videos regarding "the way" to avoid the 15 major diseases and disorders that afflict people on the SAD diet, The China Study...:"the works". In April of 2013, my immune system was so compromised that I contracted severe double pneumonia and nearly died. But I took my "mental manipulation" seriously, particularly since the surgeon who was caring for my "pressure wound" was also a vegan, and gave me much encouragement. Then I broke my leg, developed hypothyroidism, looked like I was anorexic, and felt like I was going to I quit, in October of 2014. When I began to drink milk, eat eggs and cheeses again, I couldn't get enough. Not so much with the meat, however. My last blood test indicated that my TSH was off, and my own physician doesn't know that T4 is the inactive form of thyroid, and T3 is the active form...he doesn't know that! So I ordered Pregnanalone, rather than take Levothyroxine, and have been taking 50mg tabs two or three times a day, and feel much better...I think. But the leg cramps keep me from doing very much walking, which would help improve the muscles on my now healed broken leg.
What am I missing? I eat spinach, kale, potatoes and carrots...all very well cooked, every other day or so, and drink gallons of orange juice, eat Breyer's Ice cream, drink coffee and eat a lot of fruit...I always have eaten a lot of fruit. I don't understand why my legs cramp, both of them.. I have even been sprinkling ground up egg shells on my egg-cheese mix, and consume about 24 oz. of milk a day. I keep trying to walk distances, but my legs don't seem to be improving...and I mean the cramping is marked.
Any help that would be forthcoming would be truly welcome.
asked Apr 10, 2015 by lneasy2
hi. there, cramps in your legs. 1. drink acethylcystein as in mucomyst, or use lifewave pathes. hi there. help is near
Sorry to hear of your troubles
have you tried vinegar, apple cider vinegar. I think I remember Ray saying it helped some people with cramping.
Also the magnesium.

When was last time you been through an antibiotic course?
Also do you take any other supplements, maybe some B vitamins could help.
I=Maybe ask you physician about getting T3 or natural dessicated thyroid (NDT). They are strong so be cautious when starting out on them.

5 Answers

I think muscle cramping may be a magnesium deficiency, and I find magnesium is almost impossible to supplement, since it is not easily absorbed.

If you consider that you may need about 100 mg of magnesium for each 2 mcg of T3, and assuming you are nibbling 2 mcg T3 every hour, then you may need 100 mg magnesium per hour. That's quite a bit. Since a cup of milk has 27 mg of magnesium, you can begin to see how severe the deficiency may be. Add to this, that magnesium is very quickly metabolized, only making matters worse.

The one godsend I've found that provides reliable magnesium supplementation is magnesium bicarbonate water. The recipe is here:

1 liter of this concentrated magnesium bicarbonate water will have
approximately 1500 mg of magnesium and approximately 7500 mg of bicarbonate.

Consuming that much magnesium will likely give you very loose bowels, which may be a good thing, depending on your gut health. But if you need to mitigate that, you can take activated charcoal (1/4 cup dissolved in water or juice).

Feel free to PM me if you have questions.
answered Apr 10, 2015 by visionofstrength
edited Apr 10, 2015 by visionofstrength
I agree on tossing some magnesium bicarbonate at the problem to see if it helps. It also might be worth upping your salt intake as an experiment.
Interesting for me, but magnesium supplements CAUSE twitching in my shoulders, back, legs, and eyelids.
@Dan, Yes, Peat's ideas on the relationship between salt and magnesium are fascinating to me. As you suggest, hypothyroidism wastes both salt and magnesium.

@Zach, yes, I'd had no luck with any of the magnesium supplements, which seemed to have a variety of unwanted side effects, until I came across the recipe for making my own magnesium bicarbonate water.
Made some of that Mg2 water. It's rad to know about since milk of magnesia and carbonated water both seem pretty cheap. Thanks VoS!
@visionofstrength Every magnesium supplement I have tried has given me insomnia, without fail. I'd really like to find a suitable way of getting more magnesium because it really helped my constipation, aside from the insomnia. Do you think traditional magnesium supplements injure the intestine? I get insomnia very easily from grains like rice and wheat. I wonder if the magnesium supplements are provoking the same response because of the intestinal irritation? Anyway, I'm hoping this magnesium bicarbonate water finally does the trick. Thanks for the tip!
@peatón, You're most welcome. Pay it forward and all that. :)

@mmartian, yes, I use the magnesium bicarbonate at bedtime because I feel like it helps sleep, especially if I mix it with fructose and collagen hydrolysate, and a couple aspirin. Aspirin and magnesium bicarbonate make magnesium salicylate, a gentle form of aspirin. Please let us know how it works for you?
It could be salt.
My mum had the same, told her to get more salt, since then shes had no problems. Magnesium didn't work for her.

Salt is needed to retain magnesium and all...
answered Apr 11, 2015 by prtp
DOMS and muscle cramping are physiologically similar both are caused when the mitochondria uptake calcium. Excess calcium uptake is caused by stress whether it be psychological, environmental, but probably more relevant to this discussion i.e. "gallons of orange juice" is the Crabtree effect which is induced by glucose/fructose. The Crabtree effect causes excess calcium uptake. When the muscle cells take up excess calcium they are unable to relax. Although magnesium might help, magnesium and calcium compete with one another for absorption. For muscle contraction calcium is by far more important. Your muscles can not contract without it. What is more likely going on with your particular situation is that there is a competition going on between saturated free fatty acids and glucose. SFFA's allow the mitochondria to release calcium whereas a bolus of glucose/fructose i.e. "gallons of orange juice" causes the mitochondria to uptake calcium via the Crabtree effect.

Short story you have 2 choices, increase your saturated fat intake and reduce your sugar intake (no need to be ketogenic or low carbohyrate just make the proportion of fat slightly higher then carbohydrate) or another option is to take a daily small dose of niacin/amide ~50-100mg during the time of day which you most notice the cramping which probably will be more effective then magnesium. I would advise stopping pregnenolone when experimenting with niacin/amide. As well if you are eating starch at night move it more to daylight hours when you are active or working. Starch seems to be more aggravating at night vs. sugar. Both in the long term increase cortisol and/or make one more sensitive to it.
answered Apr 13, 2015 by Edward
I tend to think Edward is on the right track here. It seems like I've even heard Peat say something along the lines that cramping more often has to do with energy (ATP) insufficiency rather than lack or imbalance of minerals.

My anecdote is that my muscles were much more prone to cramp when I was edematous during the first few months of going full peatard (consuming loads of milk and sugar). Reducing my calcium intake got rid of the edema and easily cramping muscles. But I wouldn't suggest that is a optimal way to deal with it. Perhaps sugar moderation is better.
Edward, can you elaborate on the pregnenolone / niacinamide issue?
I have got muscle twitching for a few months and less calcium or more niacinamide didn't do anything. But going low carb fixed the problem in a few days.
Edward, do you happen to have any evidence for the occurence of the crabtree effect in skeletal muscle tissue? As I understand it, for the crabtree effect to occur, there has to be a very high intracellular concentration of glucose which would mostly occur in cancerous cells, as they adopt a mode of increased glucose import to meet their energy demand. That is why the crabtree effect, in mammals, is mostly demonstrated in vitro in things like HepG2 (carcinoma) cell lines.
I developed an annoying twitching eyelid and cramps in my calfs during my vegan times.

Sounds weird, but chocolate completely got rid of it for some reason.
Worked for my dad who used to get cramps during the night too.

Still not sure why it works to be honest since according to cronometer it's not that high in magnesium. I do remember Ray talking about magnesium in chocolate at some point though.
Just try some high quality 80%+ chocolate and see what happens i guess.
answered Apr 10, 2015 by skally
edited Apr 11, 2015 by skally
Chocolate has magnesium. More precisely, Cocoa has it. Possibly the best source of magnesium among dietary sources.
The darker the chocolate the more magnesium it has.
Besides increasing Magnesium, as many have proposed, look into Quinine, as well.
answered Apr 13, 2015 by stevan