Q. I was bothered with severe leg cramps for several months. I tried home remedies such as soap in my bed, tonic water and bananas, but they didn’t help.
At last I found out I was severely anemic with a hemoglobin of 5. You may want to warn readers that this is a possibility if they are also tired and short of breath as I was. I was given 2 units of blood as soon as I was diagnosed and am now on iron supplements as well as eating more iron-rich foods. I have had no leg cramps at all since starting treatment.
A. Thank you for the note of caution. There is research linking iron deficiency to restless legs syndrome (Presse Medicale, online, March 22, 2010) and to pica (Journal of Medical Case Reports, March 12, 2010). Pica is a condition in which people feel compelled to eat non-food items such as laundry starch or ice.
We could not find any studies showing that taking iron supplements could alleviate nighttime leg cramps. We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.