Is Magnesium Oxide Actually Effective at Preventing Leg Cramps?
This study by Roguin et al. (JAMA Internal Medicine, 2017) aimed to determine if a magnesium oxide supplement is effective in preventing nocturnal leg cramps (NLC). Magnesium oxide supplements are often marketed to prevent NLC, but no evidence has been shown that this is an effective prophylaxis.
Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT)
The study was double-blind and placebo-controlled. 94 individuals (mean age 64.9) with at least four episodes of NLC over the course of the two-week screening period were included in the study. 48 participants received magnesium oxide tablets, and 46 received a placebo. Each group ingested a single tablet before bedtime for four weeks. Number of NLC episodes per week, severity and duration of episodes, and quality of life and sleep were analyzed as primary outcomes. The average change in number of NLC episodes was -3.41 in the treatment group and -3.03 in the placebo group, with a statistically insignificant difference of 0.38 between the groups (P=0.67). There were no differences between the groups in severity and duration of NLC and quality of life and sleep. The decrease in the rate of NLC from screening to treatment in both groups could be attributed to a placebo effect. The authors therefore conclude that oral magnesium is not superior to placebo in older adults with NLC.
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