A number of different things can cause leg cramps, including deficiencies of certain vitamins or minerals. When a deficiency is the cause, taking supplements may help minimize leg cramps. Speak with your doctor before taking supplements for leg cramps, however, as it's possible to get too much of some nutrients, and your cramps may be due to another, more serious, health problem.
Various B vitamins may help with leg cramps, depending on the cause. A study published in Obestetric Anesthesia Digest in 2007 found that a combination of thiamine and vitamin B-6 helped relieve leg cramps in pregnant women.
Vitamin B-12 is sometimes recommended for treating nocturnal leg cramps, according to a review article published in American Family Physician in August 2012.
Deficiencies of vitamins B-6, B-12 and folate can also cause numbness, prickling or tingling in your extremities.
Women need at least 1.1 milligrams per day of thiamine, and men need 1.2 milligrams, which you can get by eating fortified grains, legumes, nuts and sunflower seeds. The recommended intake for vitamin B-6 is 1.3 milligrams per day, with good sources including fortified cereals, bananas, meat, poultry, fish and avocados. Vitamin B-12 is only found in animal products, and you need at least 2.4 micrograms per day. You can increase your folate intake to the recommended 400 micrograms per day by eating legumes, green leafy vegetables, oranges, bananas, avocado and fortified grains.
Restless legs syndrome, which causes unpleasant feelings in the legs that could be mistaken for cramps, may be helped with vitamin C, according to a study published in Sleep Medicine in May 2012.
Men should get at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and women need at least 75 milligrams. Good sources include citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, papayas, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
A review article published in BMJ Clinical Evidence in 2009 noted that there is only minimal evidence for the use of vitamin E supplements for leg cramps. People with muscle cramps due to hemodialysis, however, may benefit from supplementary vitamin E, according to a study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics in 2010.
Get your recommended 15 milligrams per day of vitamin E by eating nuts, avocados, spinach, broccoli, mangoes and sweet potatoes and using vegetable oils when cooking.
Vitamins aren't the only nutrients potentially linked with leg cramps. A deficiency of calcium, magnesium or potassium could also increase your likelihood of suffering from leg cramps, according to Susan Blum, MD quoted in a May 2013 article on the Fox News website.
Magnesium supplements helped relieve the leg cramps of pregnant women in a study published in Maternal & Child Nutrition in April 2015.
Increase your intake of these nutritious minerals by eating hazelnuts, almonds, apples, cherries, grapefruit, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, squash and bananas. Aim to consume 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day and 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day. Men should get at least 400 milligrams of magnesium per day, and women need at least 310.