Imagine having leg cramps so severe you can’t stand up, you can’t walk, you can’t sit still or do anything except think about the extreme pain you’re having in your legs? This was my life experience for several years. Every now and then I worried that maybe I had something more sinister, like multiple sclerosis or muscular dystrophy. But no, my problem was extreme leg cramping, and it happened regularly in both legs.
My cramping episodes lasted anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Sometimes I was able to get relief by changing positions, self-massage or elevation with a pillow. Then last year, I discovered Active-On, a product that I poo-pooed until I actually tried it. Active-On rolls on your skin just like a deodorant. Instead of blocking sweat or smell, Active-On blocks pain by numbing out the pain receptors under your skin. My husband kept trying to get me to use it, and I kept mightily resisting because I thought it was going to be useless. Then one night when my leg cramping was so bad, I gave in and tried it out of desperation. What a surprise to get almost immediate relief. Now I keep a handy supply of Active-On on the night stand next to my bed, and I use it for all kinds of muscular aches and pains. No one is paying me to endorse Active-On, and my only reason for mentioning it is to help others who suffer from miserable cramps.
While I was truly grateful to have a reliable pain-killer in my arsenal of tools, what I really wanted more than anything was a reliable cure for the cramps. The experts I talked to over the years thought I had a deficiency of some kind. Most suggested it was an electrolyte deficiency, and I thought so too. This theory made the most sense because electrolyte deficiencies can result in severe muscle contraction and weakness. Minerals that are important for electrolyte performance and muscle contraction include calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. I tried a wide range of different over-the-counter mineral and vitamin supplements – the expensive, organic supplements that you can only find in health food stores. I tried different brands. I tried different doses. I tried taking them at different times of the day. I ate tons of bananas, too. And yes, the cramps lessened a little, but they never went away.
After a while, I pretty much gave up on finding a solution. This is why it’s so ironic that the solution would finally present itself to me in the form of Omega 3 capsules. I started taking Omega 3 supplements because the scientific evidence is very compelling, and being a whitefish shellfish kind of girl, I almost never eat dark, fatty fish. To my surprise, a couple of days after taking the Omega 3 capsules my cramps completely stopped. In fact, for several consecutive months I experienced no cramping whatsoever--- that is, until this Christmas. The holidays got me a little discombobulated, and I forgot to take the capsules for a few days. Wham! My cramps came back with a vengeance.
Of course, this is a completely empirical observation based on an experiment of one, but I'm totally sold on the need for essential fat in the diet. Yes, I had a deficiency, but of all things, it was a FAT deficiency. Essential fat is the kind of fat your body can't make on its own and therefore must be eaten. Imagine that. I need fat to be pain free and healthy. Maybe you do, too.