B Vitamins Ease Painful Pregnancy Leg Cramps

Healthnotes Newswire (September 21, 2006)—Almost half of all pregnant women get painful muscle cramps in their legs, usually during the second half of their pregnancies and usually at night. Obstetricians and other medical doctors are at a loss for effective recommendations to treat this common problem.

“Different treatments have been suggested, but none have been proven to be significantly effective,” said Farnaz Sohrabvand, MD, a gynecologist and assistant professor at Tehran University of Medical Sciences and lead author of the study. “This study was designed to compare the effects of different supplementation therapies in Iranian pregnant women.”

Dr. Sahrabvand and colleagues the Vali-e-Asr Reproductive Health Research Center enrolled 84 pregnant women and randomly assigned them to one of four groups: group 1 received 500 mg of calcium carbonate once per day; group 2 received 182 mg of magnesium (as magnesium aspartate) twice per day; group 3 received 100 mg of thiamine (vitamin B1) plus 40 mg per day of pyridoxine (vitamin B6) per day; and group 4 received no treatment. Each group was assessed after four weeks of treatment.

Each of the three therapies appeared to have some positive effects. Of the women in the calcium carbonate group (group 1), 52% had “absolute improvement,” meaning that muscle cramps were completely absent at the end of the study. An additional 43% of the calcium group had “relative improvement,” meaning that the muscle cramps had decreased in their frequency and intensity. Only 5% of the women taking calcium carbonate had no change in their symptoms.

All the women in the magnesium aspartate group (group 2) improved to some extent from their treatment: 71% had relative improvement and 29% had absolute improvement.

However, the group taking B-vitamins (group 3) had the most positive results: the symptoms of 72% of those taking the vitamin B1 and B6 combination were completely resolved; another 19% reported relative improvement, and only 9% experienced no change.

“According to this study, supplementation with thiamine plus pyridoxine proved to be significantly effective in improving muscle spasms during pregnancy,” Dr. Sohrabvand concluded.

(Int J Gynecol Obstet 2006 Aug 17 [e-pub ahead of print])

Jeremy Appleton, ND, CNS, is a licensed naturopathic physician, certified nutrition specialist, and published author. Dr. Appleton was the Nutrition Department Chair at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine, has served on the faculty at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, and is a former Healthnotes Senior Science Editor and a founding contributor to Healthnotes Newswire. He has worked extensively in scientific and regulatory affairs in the supplement industry and is now a consultant through his company Praxis Natural Products Consulting and Wellness Services.

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