While specific vitamins and minerals do not cause muscle cramps, a deficiency in potassium or magnesium can lead to sports-related leg cramping, according to Everyday Health. Additionally, a deficiency in vitamins E, A, and B causes cramping due to reduced circulation, as explained WeightTraining.com.
Vitamins A, B, and E work as blood thinners in the body, improving circulation in the extremities, according to WeightTraining.com. When the body is deficient in these vitamins, cramping can result due to poor circulation.
The most widely studied mineral implicated in leg cramping is magnesium, as reported by Everyday Health. Studies show that magnesium reduces the number of night time leg cramps, especially in pregnant women, and researchers recommend that the average individual ingest at least 300 milligrams of magnesium per day. Magnesium rich foods include lentils, nuts and quinoa.
Potassium has not been studied as deeply as magnesium, but many athletes still swear by eating a potassium-rich banana before heavy training and competition. Likewise, calcium can be a limiting factor when engaging in physical activity, according to MedlinePlus. Fortified orange juice can also be used as a healthy pre-workout drink to prevent cramping.
In addition to mineral deficiencies, dehydration is a leading cause for leg cramping, especially in the athletic setting, as reported by MedlinePlus. Other contributing factors to cramping include diuretic medications and alcoholism, which can both cause dehydration. Kidney failure is also a cause for leg cramping because the kidneys are responsible for maintaining mineral and ion balances in the bloodstream.