I've decided this topic deserves its own little post because Calcium Fortified Orange Juice is such a miracle elixir to me.
Like many people, I sometimes get leg cramps.
I started getting them occasionally during my pregnancies -- these awful night-time leg cramps that would start as a restless feeling and sometimes escalate to full-blown iron-hard knotted legs -- hip to heel. I hadn't had them often in my non-pregnant life until I became a runner. Then, at random times, they'd flare up and bother me. Usually it is an issue for a few days in a row, or several days over a couple weeks, and then it will subside and not be an issue for a few weeks or longer.
Anyhow, back when I was first getting them in my pregnancies, somewhere I learned that calcium fortified orange juice could help. Orange juice is high in potassium, which has something to do with the cramping, and I am not sure if the calcium was also supposed to help or if I just got the calcium-fortified stuff because most people, especially women, can use all the calcium they can get.
So whether or not the calicium has anything to do with the magical cramp fixing properties of orange juice. Plain old orange juice might work fine, too, but I am sticking with calcium-fortified since I know it works and I benefit from the added calcium.
Anyhow, if I have about 6 oz of the magic elixir in the evening, I WILL NOT EVER get leg cramps that night. If I wake up a dozen times between 10 PM and 3 AM in agony with cramps, then finally convince myself or my husband to go get me orange juice and chug it down, I will sleep blissfully the rest of the night. You'd think after going through this at least 100 times in the past 17 years, I'd know that there is no point in hoping they'll get better and allow me to sleep . . . no, they will not. But, if I get some orange juice, I am golden. There have been nights that were so bad that I actually cried real tears out of exhaustion and discomfort; these were nights when we were (gasp) out of orange juice concentrate in the freezer, so I'd been struggling for many hours trying to sleep. There have even been nights when my husband has gone out in the middle of the night on an orange juice run. This usually happened after hours of my tossing and turning and begging him to rub my legs -- which he would do and is soothing, but will never actually stop the cramping.
I think the running probably has brought the leg cramp business back into my life with frequency since I just sweat so much and exert my muscles so much that somehow the fine balance in electrolytes gets goofed up. That's my best theory, anyway.
I try to have a small glass of orange juice most days, especially when I am running hard. If I do that, I just never have those awful leg cramps. If I neglect it, they start again, and I just mix up a glass of juice and am good to go.
So, anyway, it is a cheap, harmless, healthy trick. If you get nighttime leg cramps (or leg cramps any time), try orange juice. Calcium fortified. If it doesn't work for you, you've lost nothing.
For the record, I always buy frozen Minute Maid, but I would guess that any brand should work.