Q. I awoke one night with the muscles and nerves in my legs feeling like fireworks (little explosions-big explosions-the grand finale!). They were so active that they started twisting into cramps. This literally kept me awake all night. The cramps were in all parts of my legs and feet–nowhere else in my body.

Blood tests didn’t reveal any problems, so the doctor shrugged and gave me muscle relaxants so I could sleep at night. I took them for months. If I stopped the drug, the problem returned.

One day I read in your column about a man who was taking a diuretic and began having cramps in his legs at night. He found low-sodium V-8 stopped the problem.

Since I was taking a diuretic at the time, I thought I would give it a try. It stopped the cramping and severely curtailed most of the weird muscle/nerve activity. I faithfully drink two glasses of the V-8 every evening and I haven’t taken a muscle relaxer since the first glass.

A. Low-sodium V-8 juice provides plenty of potassium. When this mineral is in short supply, many people develop cramps. Diuretics frequently deplete the body of potassium, and that may be why low-sodium V-8 helps some people.

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  1. enrico

    As a jockey I was always potassium depleted and suffering sever cramps. Couldn’t eat ban as because of weight gain and didn’t know about V8 but found kiwi to work well fruit or juice.

  2. Holly
    Upstate NY

    For about 45 years (I’m 73) I suffered with Restless Leg Syndrome and (less frequently) foot and leg cramps. For the RLS, I finally discovered, when a banana failed to help, I went to Low Sodium V-8 juice.

    It’s like magic! Since each 11 oz. can also provides 2 servings of mixed vegetables, I now drink 2 cans per day. It’s important to have other foods as well, to prevent a loose stomach from all that veggie juice, but I can tell you that it’s like magic for the jerkiness. The juice also seems to help prevent the cramps, but just to be on the safe side, I take one 400 mgm. capsule of magnesium each day.

    If you forget to take the juice or the magnesium, and jerkiness or cramps occur, you can take the forgotten juice or capsule immediately after the discomfort/pain begins, and it actually will give you relief in a matter of minutes.

    • Holly

      P.S To my previous comment: The 11-oz. Low Sodium V-8 Juice also provides 2 servings of mixed vegetables per can, and I find myself feeling better, and in better health, generally, since I started drinking the 2 cans per day.

  3. GS

    This looks like a great remedy. I’ve been taking hydrochlorothiazide for about 3 month and have been craving orange juice. A few weeks ago I got some serious cramps in my legs at night – OUCH!!! My foot cramped last night, not good. I drink heaps of water, but have been forgetting to drink/eat potassium high foods. It dawned on me a minute ago that K has a lot to do with muscle contraction.
    I’m hitting the vend now for v8.

  4. george f.

    I was driving home from southern Alabama to north GA. I was cramping a little bit but it got worse. Soon all my muscles in my body were cramping (arms hands, fingers,etc) I stopped at hospital in Montgomery Alabama and they told me my magnesium was low I was given a slow magnesium drip and soon all cramping stopped. I now carry a container of a product called CALM.
    It is powdered magnesium. It makes the cramps go away 90 percent of the time. The only problem is I don’t know when I have low potassium, low magnesium, or low salt. I take spironolactone and furosemide for fluid retention which causes these cramps. I have found if I drink too much fluid I cramp worse. I am only supposed to have 32 ounces of fluid a day. (very hard to only drink that much).

  5. BJ

    Been drinking at least 6 ounces of V8 Vegetable Juice a day for a long time. Usually have it with breakfast. The low sodium version has been indeed an added benefit. Can only verify that V8 Vegetable Juice works by the fact that when V8 is not a part of my food plan for a week or so, the cramps return with a vengeance. In the absence of V8 I resort to quinine water, or small plastic mustard packs (similar to those found in fast food service), to reduce cramping caused by Furosemide tablets.

  6. Carol

    This really works!!! I also have leg cramps and I drink low sodium V-8 juice every day. I usually consume 2 -11.5 oz. cans a day. I add fresh squeezed lemon juice to it and sometimes I add just 1/2-1 teaspoon of hot Sriracha Chili Sauce to it and it’s delicious if you like spicy hot! If I skip drinking this I get the leg cramps back. I buy the low sodium V-8 juice by the case at Sam’s Club.

  7. Bob

    Blackstrap molasses has helped me. It is very rich in potassium, contains calcium, magnesium and other minerals. I take one tablespoon religiously every night. It must be blackstrap molasses not just ordinary molasses. Check the INGREDIENT LISTING for this because the containers label may only say molasses. Other foods high in potassium and minerals include potatoes, bananas, broccoli, avocado, peaches, low sodium tomato juice. Brown rice is rich in magnesium. Eat a balanced healthy diet with fruits and veggies that you like every day. Also, reduce sodium and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day if possible. Good luck!

  8. MA

    I had horrible leg cramps for years at night and started getting heart arrythmias. I searched the internet and the remedy is cal/mag and potassium.
    I heard potassium is not good to take in pill form so I bought low sodium v8. Drink a full 8-12 oz in the morning and the same in the evening. Been cramp free at night for a year now.
    But, during the hot weather – somehow I need more – so I’ll have an extra 8oz.
    Natural remedies the way to go!!!

  9. AnnMarie

    I’ve been getting leg cramps & now my feet too. I was on Hydrochlorothiazide 50mg for about 6yrs. The Dr. recently decided to take me off of them. That was about a month ago. I’m still getting leg cramps & spasms. I’m really getting worried about it. I did seem like it got better for a little while, but then started to come back again. He did suggest I drink V8 juice. I think I will definately try that. If anyone has any advice to give me or experience I would appreciate it. My anixity is really up there since this started.

  10. Evie

    I had severe leg and foot cramps for several years. It was so bad, I would often cry from the pain. I thought I had terrible feet and I thought I could never wear a variety of shoe styles, just sneakers with expensive insoles. I “googled” “leg and foot cramps” and the first site I opened suggested that dehydration could be a cause. I realized that I rarely drank water – I mean rarely! So I started drinking 2-4 cups of water a day and I have been cramp-free. If I don’t drink water, the foot cramping comes back, but not nearly as painfully. It serves as a reminder!
    To think that I spent so many years dealing with these spasms, and the solution was as easy as a few glasses of water each day. And, there are so many other benefits to drinking water, many of which I knew about but had not been motivated enough to change my old habits.

  11. Angela

    I’ve been drinking tonic water (tastes like poison) and it has helped stop the leg cramps. However, I’m concerned about the corn syrup contained therein. And I’ve started getting mild cramps. I’ve switched to V8 (couldn’t find low sodium). I’ve taken for 2 nights. so far so good. Hope it works. I’m taking 25mg Hydrochlorothiazide.

  12. Pattic

    My husband is on a diuretic also and two other bp meds, two are potassium sparing and drinking the low sodium V-8 seems to be helping his bp meds work better. There is 820 mg potassium in 8oz of low sodium V-8 since they add potassium chloride to it (I assume) I asked our doctor if it was safe to add to the diet, since we are always warned not to take supplements of potassium and this seems a bit like doing that, he said it was fine.
    A good magnesium supplement not the oxide, we don’t absorb much mg oxide, keeps me from having leg/foot nightime cramps.

  13. RC1956

    Several years ago, my mother was experiencing severe leg cramps. We tried to add juices for the potassium, and found V8 was one of the highest at that time. It worked and she used it faithfully several times a week.

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