What Are Your Muscle Cramps Telling You?

March 16, 2019

Charley horses, back spasms and the list goes on. All muscle cramps are not created equal and each can signify a variety of deficiencies within the body. Today we're sharing questions to ask yourself to help determine the mineral deficiency you may be experiencing.

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CASSIE: Welcomes to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.  And before we get into today's topic, I just want to share what was going through my mind as I was driving into the show today.  And that is that it is so rewarding to realize that we as a company have been creating and delivering this show, Dishing Up Nutrition, for the past 15 years.  And throughout all of these years we've never run out of interesting topics to talk about.  And I really think that's because nutrition is all encompassing.  It's all encompassing when it comes to supporting our body and it's all encompassing when it comes to supporting our brain.  And as a mom of two middle schoolers, I firmly believe it is so important to talk about the key role that food plays in our overall health with the whole family.  Because you know what?  Food matters, and what our children eat today and tomorrow and all of next week can either set the foundation for lifelong health, or it can begin laying the groundwork for a variety of chronic diseases when they reach adulthood.  What our kids eat now can set them up for diabetes or heart disease or obesity as an adult.  So again, food matters no matter what your age.  Now today we have a great topic for you. Today we're going to be zeroing in on our muscles and the title of the show is actually a question.  It is “What are your muscle cramps telling you?”  Now, when I first read this title, the powers that be wanted us to talk about today, my first thought was, well, if I'm having muscle cramps, they're telling me that I am in pain.  And I know nearly everyone has experienced a muscle cramp at some point in their life, but did you realize that muscle cramps can be linked to a mineral deficiency?  By now you've probably guessed who this voice is. I'm Cassie Weness.  I'm a registered and Licensed Dietitian and I mainly teach corporate nutrition classes for Nutritional Weight and Wellness.  And of course I cohost this radio program at least once a month.  I used to see clients for Nutritional Weight and Wellness.  Currently because of my family situation, some family life things going on, I've taken a little sabbatical.  But I hope to be back to a regular client loads sometime in the future.  My cohost today is licensed nutritionist, Shelby Hummel.  She also teaches nutrition classes and she has a full caseload of clients, so I'm so happy she's able to take time out of her busy day to be here in studio with me. Welcome to the show, Shelby. 

SHELBY: Good morning Cassie, and good morning to all of you that are tuning into the show.  And I just have to say, Cassie, people hear your voice, then they can really resonate with the stories that you tell about your kids and they're always calling to wonder if they can schedule an appointment with you.  And so it's so nice that that you can share your experiences on air knowing that you're prioritizing some family stuff.

CASSIE: And thank you, Yes, that is right. That's a good way to state it. I'm prioritizing some family stuff and yes, we do eat well at home.

SHELBY: Yes, I'm sure you do.  Well listeners, we have lots of ideas for those of you who are suffering with muscle cramps. So we're going to jump right into today's topic.  Having muscle cramps is a very important topic for many of our clients.  And interestingly enough, many people think, especially our clients, think that all muscle cramps and spasms have the same cause, kind of the same root cause.  And so, they kind of look at me and maybe they're a little surprised when I asked them to describe their symptoms.  I want them to understand that muscle cramps, especially leg cramps, can occur for many different reasons. Right? We have lots of vitamins and mineral deficiencies that are contributing to muscle cramps and spasms, but we do have to take some time to dig through some of those things to see what are the right types of vitamins and minerals? Because that can sometimes be complicated, right?  So I've learned there is no cookie cutter, no standard treatment for muscle cramps. It is more complex than we tend to think. Now, muscle cramps can be, you know, related to a variety of deficiencies. So we're going to start out by asking you to think about some questions that that may help us determine where these mineral deficiencies may be coming from. So Cassie, we're going to start out asking some of the questions that we may use in the counseling rooms to see, “Where are those muscle cramps originating from?”  So the first one that we're going to start with: Do you have cramps, like spasms or Charley horse-just in your legs?

CASSIE: So really answer each of these. You can answer out loud if you want, or just answer in your head. But, if you said yes to that question Shelby just posed, you're probably deficient in magnesium.

SHELBY: Now what about this? Do you have back spasms?

CASSIE: If you have back spasms, again, probably low in magnesium.

SHELBY: Now what about this one Cassie?  Do you crave chocolate often?   We're asking our listeners.  Now I'm not really talking about, well do you like chocolate? I'm talking like, do you feel like you have to have it?

CASSIE: Right.  Cause I certainly like my chocolate, but I've had those clients over the years that will go through every drawer and cupboard in the house looking for that last piece of chocolate if they don't have any, right?

SHELBY: We're talking to you guys.

CASSIE: So if you're shaking your head yes to that, then you are for sure low in magnesium.

SHELBY: Now this is one of my favorites to help people understand.  Do you have trouble falling asleep? And/or staying asleep?

CASSIE: That was me when I first found Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and I quickly learned that I was low in magnesium.

SHELBY: Now, thinking a little bit more about the ladies listening today, ladies, if you're suffering with menstrual cramps, what could that mean, do you think?

CASSIE: That is very often magnesium.  That's, you know, and this just reminds me, I often call magnesium the magic mineral because it addresses so many different of these health concerns.

SHELBY: Well, and I know we've talked about doctor Mark Hyman on the show many times and have referenced his work. He's a medical doctor that also believes that real food is very important. And he says anything that's kind of tight, crampy or irritated, that's often a sign of a magnesium deficiency.

CASSIE: That's a great way to describe it in a nutshell. Yes. And if those of you listening weren't aware of this already, let me tell you, magnesium deficiency is a widespread problem. In fact, the statistics show that three out of four people in this country are deficient in magnesium.  So maybe that leaves you thinking why? You know, we're in a developed country.  Most of us have access to a variety of different foods. Why do you think so many people in America are deficient in magnesium?

SHELBY: Well, Cassie, one of the first things that I start to think about is lifestyle, right? What are some of the common eating or drinking habits that can deplete our minerals? Drinking soda daily, no doubt, is going to prevent those minerals from, from staying in our body.  But drinking more than one or two cups of coffee each day.

CASSIE: And we should clarify, when we say one cup, that's six ounces. So we're saying six to 12 ounces total.

SHELBY: Not that big old mug of coffee.

CASSIE: Not the grande at Starbucks.

SHELBY: Yeah, exactly. So another beverage that I think will come to no surprise for many of you listening is drinking alcohol several times a week, right?  All of these drinking habits deplete minerals from our body. But Cassie, it's not just beverages, right? We also have to look at the processed carbohydrates, the sugars.  You know, it may be your favorite types of foods, but the muffins, the cereals, the cookies, the chips, the pasta.  All of those processed carbohydrates, high sugar foods, leech minerals from your muscles and your bones. So we have some of those lifestyle habits that deplete your minerals.  But we could also look at things like excessive exercise, working outside or having exercise that you're sweating consistently.  Or, oftentimes people forget that their medications can sometimes deplete minerals.

CASSIE: Right, right. And just hearing you talk, it reminds me, cause I'd think summer will be here someday. I remember having a client that was a construction worker, and you know, when you're out in that hot sun and sweating all day, that's a job that could lead to a loss of minerals.  And another factor to keep in mind, the list just keeps going here. The soil that the vegetables and fruits we're eating today, the soil that they're grown in are lacking in minerals compared to the nutrient content of that same soil, say a hundred, hundred and 50 years ago. And along these same lines, if you're eating grass fed meat, which is a good choice, you know, the amount of minerals in that meat depends on the soil that the grass was grown in, that that animal is eating. So, probably not quite as nutrient dense as when, say our great grandparents were eating it.

SHELBY: Yeah. And Cassie, I definitely think we should talk more about minerals when we come back and some of those things that we can help people look at. But we're going to go to our first break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.  This morning we are discussing different types of muscle cramps and how those can give you clues about mineral deficiencies you may be experiencing. We'll be right back.

CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If any of you listeners have experienced muscle cramps or muscle spasms, you know how painful they can be.  I mean a muscle cramp or a Charley horse in the middle of the night might wake you up just wanting to scream, right? A muscle spasm in your back while you're driving home from work can bring tears to your eyes. So isn't it time to ask yourself, “What are some of the common causes of muscle cramps or what might be the cause of my muscle spasms?”  Well, here's one idea for you: dehydration. Dehydration is actually a leading cause of muscle cramps and you know, certainly dehydration can be caused by not drinking enough water throughout the day, but also think about this.  You might get dehydrated because you exercise frequently and you're a heavy sweater. You're going to lose water in your sweat and you're going to lose minerals.  If you have a problem with some ongoing diarrhea for several days or maybe several weeks, certainly that can leave you dehydrated.  And you lose minerals that way as well. Here's another one. Taking diuretic medication for high blood pressure. Now usually if you have high blood pressure and the doctor wants to put you on a prescription medication, the first line of therapy that they'll try is going to be a diuretic. Sometimes they call it a water pill so that can dehydrate you and also deplete you of minerals. And Shelby, I think you mentioned this one earlier, we can't forget drinking several cups of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, not only depletes minerals, but you lose more water and you can become dehydrated.  So many different causes of dehydration and many different causes of mineral deficiencies.

SHELBY: Right. And Cassie, before we went to break, we were getting our listeners to think about, well what are some other reasons why, besides dehydration, what would be some other reasons why, Americans are struggling with mineral deficiencies? And so some overlap there, of course, you know, drinking beverages that that deplete our minerals like soda. We know we've talked a lot about soda on Dishing Up Nutrition. It doesn't matter if it's regular or diet, it's still going to have that sugar, that, and chemicals that leech minerals from our muscles and our bones.

CASSIE: Right.  And we know that the brown sodas with the phosphoric acid are especially harmful for our bones.

SHELBY: We were also talking about the quality of the foods that we eat, right? The nutrients and I don't know if I've shared this with you before.  I think I've shared it with maybe a few clients of mine, but I also come from a family, actually both sides of my family were farmers. Both my parents grew up on farms in Iowa.  So, hi mom and dad. I know you're listening this morning. So kind of thinking about the quality of the food that we eat, that's always been in the back of my mind. And I'm sure, if my grandpa's listening this morning he'd be very proud to know that a lot of the information that he shared with my parents and our family about vitamins and minerals still, you know, is something that is important to me.  I think it's probably something that got me interested, more interested in healthcare and nutrition. And, I remember taking, you know, vitamins when I was younger. Specifically, I used to get a lot of ear infections and so, wanting to make sure I got vitamin A and vitamin E for my immune system.  But I think my favorite story from my grandpa is understanding a little bit more about how he was trying to care for, not only human health but animal health and the health of the environment. You know, back in the 70s, he was using organic farming practices-beef.  I think it's probably before we knew of the word organic.

CASSIE: Oh for sure. Right before that was a little, little girl. And I don't remember growing up hearing that word organic. Oh my gosh. Well some fun facts about you. This is all said stuff cause you and I got that email from the boss a few nights ago and there was some comment at the end about people in North Dakota and Iowa and I'm like, well I get the North Dakota reference, but why are you talking about Iowa?

SHELBY: Just all sorts of love for the farm lands here in the Midwest.

CASSIE: Right, right. And I as the boss knows, and that's why she must've made that little comment. I have a similar understanding about the environment and the soil, and I also have a great love for real food because I grew up on, and the longtime listeners and all this, I grew up on a large ranch back in central North Dakota. So I'm certainly well aware both from personal experience and more recently from reading the research in this area, that if the soil is depleted, then the grasses and the grains will be depleted. And the cycle just keeps going. Then the cattle that eat those grasses and grains don't get sufficient minerals, which in turn means when we eat their meat, it will be lacking in nutrients. I mean really as we talk about all of this, Shelby, it's no wonder that at least three out of four people are deficient in magnesium.

SHELBY: Yeah, Cassie. And that's a good point because the foods that tend to be highest in magnesium are things like good quality beef. Those happy chickens on pasture.  We also talk about magnesium rich foods, in our nuts and seeds and leafy greens like almonds, spinach, black beans are actually a great source of magnesium as well. We talk about the avocados that everyone loves. Also things like acorn squash. Now this isn't one of my favorite foods, but lobster is high in magnesium.  But it's a little spendy. So maybe stick with the leafy greens and the almonds.

CASSIE: Yeah, the beef, the chicken.  Yeah. I actually have an avocado on the counter. I'm going to make green smoothies for Saint Patrick's Day.  Stick with some of those easy foods.

SHELBY: We actually do have a March mint shake or smoothie recipe. I saw that, that beautiful handout that are our graphic designer had put together.

CASSIE: It’s at the front desk at all the offices.  Yeah. I need to look at that one again cause I need to see what other ingredients I need and have. Yeah I know I, I think that was, is that one that may be Brenna that used to work here developed kind of as a healthy version of the shamrock shake when that was such a big hit?

SHELBY: Might have been, yeah. Around this time last year about again. Yeah.

CASSIE: Yeah, so keeping those food sources of magnesium in mind that we just talked about: the beef, the chicken, the almonds, if you have occasional muscle cramps or if you crave chocolate every now and then I would say start focusing on these magnesium rich foods in your daily diet. Really be intentional about getting them in.  But if you're having muscle cramps every day or charley horses every night, or if you have back spasms or insomnia, then I would highly suggest focusing on those magnesium rich foods, but at the same time starting a supplement of a good quality magnesium.  Now, what I have found, and I don't know if you'd agree with me, Shelby, but I have found both from the research from clinical practice and also from personal experience that Magnesium Glycinate is probably best absorbable form on the market today.

SHELBY: Yeah, Cassie, I definitely agree with you. And I would say people come in and they say, well, I've tried magnesium. I've been taking you know, magnesium off and on thinking that that was going to be a solution for me. And I always ask them, can you, you know, either bring the bottle in to your next appointment or can you snap a picture and email me of the exact supplement that you're taking? Because I know that the form of magnesium makes a really big difference in how well it is absorbed. But before we, you know, put all of our eggs in one basket, talking about muscle cramps, and magnesium, let's look at some of the other symptoms that may indicate a magnesium deficiency.  So like you had mentioned, Cassie, if you crave chocolate, that could be a sign that you're deficient in magnesium.

CASSIE: And not that that's painful, right, Shelby? But if you crave chocolate, that's your body telling you something. So let's take care of it now before you start having back spasms or you know, terrible muscle cramps.

SHELBY: Yeah. Now, if you have trouble sleeping, that could also be a sign of a magnesium deficiency.  But headaches and high blood pressure: Those are also indications that you may be deficient in magnesium. But Cassie, we're going to get back to talking about magnesium after we take a quick break here. If you're just tuning in, you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Here's some interesting information about chocolate cravings. Cravings for specific foods could be an indication of a deficiency in certain minerals. Like you had said, it's kind of our body's way of telling us: “Hey, I need some attention”.  A chocolate craving in particular is linked to magnesium. Now, magnesium is an essential mineral that's required for over 300 different reactions in our body. So if you are constantly craving chocolate, the answer very well could be that you need more magnesium. So adding 400 to 600 milligrams of magnesium glycinate daily, will help those chocolate cravings go away. Now we'll be right back from break.

CASSIE: I'm Cassie, I'm in studio today with Shelby. And our title is “What Are Your Muscle Cramps Telling You”?  And I have to say the staff at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, whether we're talking about a dietician, a nutritionist, or the front desk staff, we all understand the importance of minerals for overall health. So because of this, we put together a class called The Magic of Minerals. In fact, I just taught this class this past Wednesday for a large corporation here in Edina, Minnesota. And it was a hit. And I have to say I was really glad that it went over so well because the CEO of this corporation was in the audience, and I was told that this was going to be the case before I went onstage.  So anyway, I'm glad everybody gave good reviews. But the Magic of Minerals is truly one of our more popular classes. So if you'd be interested in having one of the registered dieticians are licensed nutritionist from Nutritional Weight and Wellness, come out and speak at your place of work. If you want to learn more about this, you can go to our website at weightandwellness.com and from there just click on workplace wellness. Or if you want to sign up for the Magic of Minerals and take this class in the comfort of your own home, I was actually given the opportunity to present this class, oh, I don't know, about a year and a half ago while I was being videoed. And this class is now up online. So if you're interested in signing up for the Magic of Minerals online class, again, just go to our website weightandwellness.com, then click on classes and then click on online.  And I really think you'll find the information in this class. fascinating.

SHELBY: Right. And Cassie, before we went to break, we were talking a lot about the connections that magnesium has to muscle cramps to charley horses to sleep, even to things like blood pressure.

CASSIE: Right.  And it doesn't stop there.

SHELBY: No, it doesn't. You're going to tell us some more, I hope.

CASSIE: Yes. There is also a good amount of research showing that a magnesium deficiency can have an impact on mental health. And the reason is just to kind of give it briefly and not get into too much science, biochemically in the synapse; the synapse is just that space between our brain cells, in that synapse or that space, magnesium regulates our excitatory chemicals. So really bottom line, what I'm trying to say is when we're low in magnesium, we can experience anxiety because the levels of our excitatory brain chemicals get out of whack.

SHELBY: Yeah.  And when we think about anxiety or stress, that's kind of another use of magnesium, right? For people who experience high stress, high anxiety. It actually got me thinking about a friend of mine who just had her first baby boy.

CASSIE: Oh, how fun.

SHELBY: I know when I was visiting her out in Portland this summer, she said it was so crucial for her to be getting high doses of magnesium through that first trimester into the second trimester; Really making sure that she was getting enough magnesium to get a good night's sleep and kind of keep that stress down. We know that magnesium is so important for the brain as well.

CASSIE: Well and you know what, so when you're pregnant the level of all these minerals that we need goes up, right? Because now we're supporting the life of that baby too.  So yeah, I can see why she needed a lot.

SHELBY: Yeah. And she, she was saying, you know, in preparation for having her baby actually, for delivery labor and delivery, she was taking like 800, 900, sometimes even a thousand milligrams of magnesium glycinate in those last days before giving birth because she knew that that was so important in helping her have a smooth delivery.

CASSIE: Because it would relax muscles more for the delivery process. I have heard of other moms doing that too that want to go the natural route.

SHELBY: Yeah. But I often think for those moms that are admitted with preeclampsia or high blood pressure before delivery, we know that can be very dangerous. Having that high blood pressure increase before delivery. And so I know emergency rooms and OB-GYNS are often using intravenous magnesium to help bring that blood pressure down.

CASSIE: Good point. So it's not just Nutritional Weight and Wellness talking about magnesium.  Even the doctors know this and you know that brings me back, Shelby, to what you said early on in the show, Dr Hyman’s quote about if anything is tight or crampy, think magnesium.  Well our blood vessels, they’re muscles and if they get tight and crampy, there's less space for that blood to flow and then that blood pressure can go sky high.

SHELBY: And it's not just for our, you know, our expecting mothers who are listening.  That actually reminds me of a study from the University of Minnesota that showed the risk for hypertension or high blood pressure was 70% lower in those women who had adequate or high levels of magnesium. So as we have more magnesium, pregnant or not, we know that that our blood pressure is well managed.

CASSIE: Yes. Great point. And you know, I bet our listeners are catching on to the fact magnesium is important to so many different aspects of our health.

SHELBY: And this really is because of what you said earlier in the show, Shelby, that magnesium is responsible for over 300 different biochemical reactions that need to take place in our body every day for us to have optimal health.  I mean, just stop and think about that: over 300 different biochemical reactions need magnesium in order to take place. So, no wonder a deficiency of magnesium can lead to all these problems. And again, as it relates to the title of our show today, a deficiency of magnesium is the leading cause of muscle cramps. A deficiency of magnesium is the leading cause of muscle spasms, and it's the leading cause of Charley Horses.  Right.  Cassie, when I'm working with a client who has those muscle cramps or spasms, I start out by recommending 400 to 600 milligrams of magnesium glycinate. Now, all of that to say I don't just, you know, show them where to get the magnesium and send them out the door.  We talk a lot about putting together real food options, things that are going to help reduce the leeching of those minerals out of the body, but also magnesium rich foods, right?  Bringing in the food sources of magnesium and then looking at the supplements to get them feeling better faster.

CASSIE: I'm so glad you said that because you have to have that real food diet as your base.  You can't supplement your way to good health.

SHELBY: Yeah, exactly. Now, if you're having trouble sleeping, we would encourage you to take that magnesium glycinate at bedtime.  And Cassie, in general, I try to encourage people to take their minerals at bedtime knowing that that's the best time for those to be absorbed. If you're taking those supplements, you want to be able to get the most bang for your buck.  Now, magnesium glycinate is the form of magnesium that’s really well absorbed. And don't worry, it's not going to cause any loose stools or diarrhea.  Most of the magnesium that you find at the big box stores have that lower quality magnesium that tends to send people running to the bathroom.  Or sometimes, like I mentioned before, it doesn't even touch the muscle cramps and they say, well, it must not be magnesium that's my problem then. But really it's, they're not getting the right form that high quality magnesium.

CASSIE: Great point. I don't think everybody realizes that the supplement industry is not regulated. And so, a lot of companies that just want to make money, will throw that magnesium oxide in a bottle because it's cheap, and then you run out and buy it. But it's not a form that, like you said, that your body can absorb and that will address your problems. So again, look for that glycinate. And I should say too that we sell the glycinate at all of our seven office locations.  What I think is even better is that you can buy any of our supplements online and we don't charge shipping and handling. So you get the exact same price if you order online.

SHELBY: So Cassie, what you're saying is people could watch the online Magic of Minerals from the comfort of their own home. They could watch you teach that class.

CASSIE: Scary, we'd never have to leave our house.

SHELBY: And then they could say, well I think I learned some things. They could have their groceries delivered, and then they could have their new Nutrikey supplements delivered to their front door.

CASSIE: But do get up and go to the gym or something. Get some sunshine in there too. Right. Right. Yes. But we make it easier. We're trying anyway. You know, before we go to break, I think we're going to have to do that again really soon. But I want to talk about another type of muscle cramp.  And these cramps often come when people are taking those prescription medications for high blood pressure that I mentioned earlier, the ones that we sometimes call a water pill. These types of cramps come from a deficiency in potassium.

SHELBY: So when we think about, or when clients describe these types of cramps, they often are describing surface cramps, right?  Maybe they have them in their hands or their feet. And oftentimes they are accompanied by other symptoms related to a potassium deficiency. An example of that would be maybe they have a hard time walking up a flight of stairs because their legs feel heavy or really tired. Sometimes they are experiencing abnormal heart arrhythmias.  Or one of the most frustrating for clients is when they just have big tears that kind of well up in their eyes and kind of roll down their face and they just don't understand what's going on.  But Cassie, I know we want to talk more about potassium.  We're going to take a break though. You are listening to Dishing up Nutrition.  As nutritionists and dieticians, we definitely love our magnesium glycinate, as I'm sure you can tell this morning. We've said magnesium is so important for over 300 biochemical reactions in our body. But what does that really mean? Magnesium is helpful in calming anxiety. It means that it helps to balance our brain's pleasure centers, which can, you know, kick those cravings. Magnesium is necessary for the absorption of calcium, right? If you're deficient in magnesium, that can lead to irritability and nervousness.  Now, another great benefit of the magnesium is for sleep. Clients rave about the great sleep that they get and oftentimes they're coming in and saying, “I'm out of my magnesium”. You know, that's the one supplement that they have to get a good night’s sleep.  And travel with, and never leave home without it.  Yeah. And Cassie, like you mentioned listeners can go to and weightandwellness.com to order their supplements. I just want to let people know that starting today are running through next Saturday, March 23rd, we are having our 15% off sale, so you can get magnesium glycinate and any of the other Nutrikey products including our Nutritional Weight and Wellness Cookbook and Nutrition Guide for 15% off.

CASSIE: I didn’t know the cookbook was off too.  That is the best cookbook. That's the one I use the most and I have a lot of cookbooks.

SHELBY: Yeah. So we can talk more about the 15% off sale later in the show. We're going to head to break.

CASSIE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you're just joining us, we're talking all things muscle cramps and muscle spasms. But before we get back into that topic, I just want to let all of you know that you may want to mark off this time on your calendar for next Saturday because we're going to have a great show next Saturday too.  I'm actually going to be on the air again, so hopefully you don't get sick of my voice. I'm going to be on again with Dar.  So Darlene Kvist, the founder of Nutritional Weight and Wellness, and I will be hosting special guest Dr. Michael Lewis and I'm really excited for this show. The title is: The Role Omega Three Fatty Acids Play in Healing Concussions.   And Dr. Michael Lewis, if you haven't heard his name before, has a really impressive biography. First of all, he's a medical doctor. He's also a retired United States army colonel and he's started a nonprofit called Brain Care. And the purpose of this nonprofit is to help people recover from concussions. And Dr. Lewis has done extensive work with veterans. He's done a lot of work with professional football players. Oh, and I should tell you he's also the president and founder of the Brain Health Education and Research Institute.  So I think it goes without saying, he's an expert on nutritional interventions for brain health. So next week is really going to be an educational show. Tune in if you can, and I should mention too to listeners that aren't aware if Saturday mornings at 8:00 AM doesn't work for you, you can listen at any time when it does work.  We're on our website, you can just click on podcasts. That's free to do and then you can listen on your own time. Or on my iPhone I have us on Itunes, which again is free. So in the search bar on iTunes you can search for Dishing Up Nutrition.  And the third way you can listen to us: We also have our own app called Dishing Up Nutrition, which again is free, and that's available for iPhones and androids. So again, that's just going to be a really great show.  Concussions are so in the news right now and rightly so.  And we're going to get some great information from Dr. Lewis.

SHELBY: Cassie, I love hearing when people tell, tell me that they listened to Dishing Up Nutrition, you know, they have it as a podcast. They kind of have us on in the background while they're prepping their vegetables for the week, while they're throwing some things in the crock pot. It's like, oh, I just love it.

CASSIE: Right. What a great marriage of those things.

SHELBY: Yeah. Now before we went to break, Cassie, or for those of you who are just tuning in, we were talking about potassium. And we were talking about, sometimes people would know that they are struggling with potassium if they're having those surface level cramps maybe in their hands or their feet, or if you feel really tired after walking up the stairs, your legs just feel very heavy. That could be contributing to or that could be connected to potassium.

CASSIE: Yes. Well, and you know, if you've thought a lot of people were deficient in magnesium, because at the start of the show, we share the statistic that three out of four Americans are deficient in magnesium. It gets even worse when we talk about potassium.  Get this: about 95% of Americans do not get the recommended daily amount of potassium. Now, we could have a whole discussion about why that is.  But I think the biggest reason is we don't eat enough vegetables.  Most of us, I mean you and I probably do most days of the week, but most of us don't eat enough vegetables. We always recommend five to nine servings. So think about what you ate yesterday. Did you reach that five to nine servings?

SHELBY: Now, Cassie, I always tell people you don't just get to eat vegetables at dinner and get five to nine cups, right?  I ate my green beans for breakfast this morning and I'm sure you had some vegetables this morning too, but you know, we, we really want to make sure we're getting those vegetables throughout the day.

CASSIE: You pretty much have to, I mean, if you stop and think about it, you need to eat vegetables at breakfast, you need to eat vegetables at lunch, and then you need to eat vegetables in the evening. And probably even at one of your snacks throughout the day to get those five to nine servings. Now here's a couple of clues. If you're on the fence thinking, hmm, I wonder if I'm in that 95% that are deficient in potassium: do you crave salt? Or here's another one: Do you feel like you're just tired? You're dragging all the time, even after a decent night's sleep? If you can say yes to one or both of those, it's very likely that you're low in potassium.

SHELBY: And if you are saying yes, maybe you're thinking, well, what foods do I need to be eating to increase my potassium? Now you may be surprised that we're not actually looking at bananas as the first line of increasing potassium. We know bananas are one of the highest sugar fruits out there.

CASSIE: And we know that high sugar depletes your body of minerals, right? So you're kind of doing a detriment.

SHELBY: Yeah, exactly. So we say vegetables, right? Spinach, sweet potatoes, even some white potatoes. We know avocados and broccoli and brussels sprouts, asparagus. I encourage people to think about the melon, which are great sources of potassium but are lower sugar fruits, right? So just to give you a comparison, one cup of cantaloupe, which is low in that natural sugar gives us about 730 milligrams of potassium, while a banana, even though it has 400 milligrams of potassium, it's a high sugar fruit.

CASSIE: Yes. I always tell people, and my kids know this too, never eat a whole banana.  Cut it in half and, yeah, make it a little brown on the end, big deal cut the brown part round off, when you go for the second half. Or share it with a friend, you know, whatever.

SHELBY: Or go for the avocados. Those are a really nice addition for people who are needing to get a little good fat but also get some more potassium. Now, Cassie, you know, I know that you're very cautious about this as am I, but I don't want people supplementing with potassium unless they've had their blood levels tested. Right? You don't want too much or too little. You want just the right amount. You know, a low level of potassium can be a serious health risk, but on the flip side of that, too much potassium can also be risky.  So we always encourage people, start with the food part. Eat more potassium rich vegetables and fruits because our body's able to manage that really well. But then if you feel like you still need some additional support, get your potassium checked. Work with your doctor on that.

CASSIE: Great advice. Now, one other mineral deficiency as we wrap up the show that I think is important to share is calcium. And it might surprise a lot of people that a calcium deficiency is pretty common in America. Here's a fact I want to share about calcium. This was shared on a previous show, but I think it bears repeating. If you're not getting enough calcium in your diet, your body will actually pull it right out of your bones, right out of your teeth because your body is trying to maintain a certain blood level of calcium.  So when it doesn't have the right amount in its blood, it starts robbing it from your bones and your teeth.  And we know that that could eventually lead to osteoporosis or a lot of cavities or your teeth chipping. Another sign of calcium deficiency would be weak or brittle nails. And I know we talked a lot this morning about how muscle cramps are a sign of a magnesium deficiency.  But sometimes calcium, low calcium is a part of the puzzle too. Same with insomnia. Magnesium often helps with insomnia, but sometimes you're low in calcium too. So insomnia can be another sign of calcium deficiency.

SHELBY: Now, Cassie, I'm sure listeners are thinking, well, there's got to be more ideas out there. And we definitely do have many other ideas. We know it can be more complex than just magnesium or just potassium. So we do encourage people to set up a one-on-one consultation with a nutritionist.

CASSIE: Absolutely. Because each one of us has our own unique biochemistry.  So it does take a, a skilled detective, sort of, oftentimes to help you figure these things out. So I encourage you, if you're having a lot of these body signs, and you feel like you need help, don't hesitate to meet one-on-one with a Nutritional Weight and Wellness dietitian or nutritionist.  We can help you find the quickest and most accurate solution for your body. And we're offering that 15% off nutrition counseling as well as supplements, but for nutrition counseling right now too. So it would be a great time to make an appointment

SHELBY: Absolutely. Now, our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for listening and have a wonderful day.

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