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Old 09-07-2013, 07:40 PM   #1
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Low carb and supplementing w/vitamins etc.

I'm a believer in the low-carb WOE. What I'm having trouble with, and am looking for feedback on, is that many of us seem to need to supplement with potassium and magnesium. So I keep asking myself "if this is the healthiest way to eat, why am I lacking in crucial vitamins/minerals?" In the last month or two, I have been absolutely plagued with horrendous leg cramps at night multiple times a night. I also crave spinach. I DO make sure my salt and water intake is adequate. Earlier this week I broke down and purchased chelated magnesium oxide supplements. I'm taking one a day with a meal. Except for last night, my leg cramps vanished the same day. I'm not sure why I had one last night. I'll see what happens tonight. But, I'm bothered by the fact that I have to take a supplement when I am supposedly eating a very healthy diet. I did not ever have leg cramps way back when I wasn't eating low carb. Now I do. Why?

I'm now trying to broaden my food horizons and eat things that are high in magnesium and not high in carbs. I purchased some roasted and salted Pepitas as well as dried seaweed (talk about an acquired taste! ) snacks from TJ's last night. Maybe the problem is that I'm not eating enough variety of low-carb foods. I don't know. I'd love to hear some words of wisdom from folks that are much more knowledgeable than I on this subject.
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Old 09-07-2013, 09:12 PM   #2
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I find cramps are more a matter of not enough water and salt. When you are losing weight with low carb, your body flushes out these minerals rather than hoarding them. I guess you might ask why people have to restrict their natural desire for salt when NOT low carbing...
Often I don't come back to read threads where I've posted. If you want me to see something, please send me a private message. Thanks!
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Old 09-07-2013, 10:12 PM   #3
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I've wondered the same thing! I've had incredibly long rounds of toe cramps and a charley horse the other night. I never had those before!

BUT.....on the other hand, I no longer take prilosec, or even tums. No more heartburn, strange stomach pains, gastritis... Arthritis in my thumb has abated and is no longer bothersome. I generally feel much better than before. Why the cramping muscles though? I drink water almost by the pitcher, and eat a good variety of foods. Does anybody have an explanation for this--or found a way to overcome it?
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:55 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Jleighs View Post
I'm a believer in the low-carb WOE. What I'm having trouble with, and am looking for feedback on, is that many of us seem to need to supplement with potassium and magnesium.

But, I'm bothered by the fact that I have to take a supplement when I am supposedly eating a very healthy diet. I did not ever have leg cramps way back when I wasn't eating low carb. Now I do. Why?
Look at it this way...when you were eating a higher carb diet, you most likely had a host of other health problems. I know even on WW or other higher carb, calorie counting type diets, I had many other health problems. So for me it's a trade off.

Low carb is a naturally diuretic way of eating. Unfortunately, it also means we'll flush out some important things we need. I do use salt on my find, but I find that increasing my salt intake by drinking chicken broth (or other methods) doesn't work for me because I'll almost immediately start retaining water to the point where my calves are huge and feel like they're going to pop. So I am taking supplements. It's a fair trade off.
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Old 09-08-2013, 06:04 AM   #5
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From "The Art and Science of Low Carb Living":

Today we ‘know’ that too much salt is bad for us, so why this long discussion of a discredited nutrient? The short answer is that the amount of carbohydrate in our diet changes our need for salt. High carbohydrate diets make the kidneys retain salt, whereas a low carbohydrate intake increases sodium excretion by the kidney (called ‘the natriuresis of fasting’). Hunting cultures seemed to understand this, and thus their highly evolved practices of finding sodium and consuming enough of it to maintain health and well-being.

and, same source, discussing a study where subjects were fed low carb diet and high levels of sodium:

Now, you might ask, isn’t it tantamount to subject abuse to give them 5 grams of sodium per day? Wasn’t that harmful? The simple answer is, no. The reason: all carbohydrate-restricted diets, even ones providing 50-60 grams of carbohydrate like Dr. Hoffer’s mixed diet, are natriuretic – they make the kidneys dump sodium. Now, if you are bloated, edematous, or hypertensive, ‘dumping sodium’ is a good thing. But if you do not (or no longer) have these fluid-excess symptoms, then over-excretion of sodium results in the above list of symptoms. And more worrisome, it can have negative health effects as well. Sodium is the positively charged ion that the body uses in its circulating fluid (serum and extracellular fluid) to balance the concentration of positive charges from potassium that is concentrated inside cells. The membrane enzyme sodium-potassium ATPase is the ion pump that keeps both of these cations separated and in the right place. For nerves, muscles, and other cellular functions to work right, neither of these ion concentrations can deviate much from that of the other. With severe sodium restriction (like 1.3 grams per day, combined with the natriuretic effects of carbohydrate restriction), the body responds first by mobilizing any excess extracellular fluid (which is why bloating disappears) and then by contracting its circulating volume. It is this contracted circulating volume that causes dizziness, headache, and ease of fatigue. At some point, when confronted with this low sodium intake plus carbohydrate restriction, most people’s defense mechanisms can’t maintain normal mineral balances. So the body’s next level of defense is for the adrenal gland to secrete the hormone aldosterone, which makes kidney tubular cells excrete potassium in order to conserve sodium. That is, the body wastes some of its intracellular potassium in order to cling to whatever sodium it can. However unless there is copious potassium coming in from the diet, this excess urinary potassium comes from the body’s potassium pool inside cells. Two things then happen. First, nerve and muscle cells don’t work well, leading to cardiac dysrhythmias and muscle cramps. Second, because potassium is an obligate component of lean tissue, the body starts losing muscle even if there’s plenty of protein in the diet.
Keep calm and carry on.
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Old 09-08-2013, 08:01 AM   #6
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I have to supplement because I choose not to eat the food that is high enough in the nutrients I need...I could eat them, but I don't especially like all of them...I didn't eat them before low carb because I didn't like them back then either, and probably should have been supplementing then as well...I feel much better eating this way and now I can tell when I am lacking in something because of the way my body feels...I can tell you I have never been more conscious to how my body reacts to foods since eating this way....good luck and only supplement if you need to...your body will let you know...then after being acclimated to this woe, you can try to ween yourself down on the dosages and see how things are going...you may be able to stop all together as you become used to eating this way.
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Old 09-08-2013, 04:54 PM   #7
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Thank you for all the replies and information. I very much appreciate it!

I'm no stranger to LC eating. I've been eating LC in one form or another for 5 or 6 years (except for when I fell off the wagon...). I've never had cramps like this. I make sure I get 5 grams of sodium per day, and I drink plenty of water. I'll continue on with the magnesium supplement for awhile and see what happens.
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Old 09-09-2013, 01:05 AM   #8
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Whether you are doing LC or not, it is almost guaranteed that you will be lacking in magnesium due to soil depletion and farming methods. We cannot get enough magnesium through diet alone anymore.

I am a great supporter of eating enough sodium (I use celtic sea salt) and supplementing with magnesium.
Do as I say, not do as I do... DEFINITELY not do as I do!!!

female, 41 y/o, 5'10"
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Old 09-09-2013, 03:24 AM   #9
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The eskimos who were doing low carb for untold 1000's
of years didn't drink water, They drank brackish water a
mixture of salt water and fresh water so got a lot of salt
and some magnesium and potasium from that.
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