At the Patient Education Conference held at Northwestern University in Chicago on October 15, 2016, Registered Dietitian Beth Doerfler answered patient questions regarding nutrition and scleroderma. If you have any questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What are the foot and leg cramps I get every night from and what can I do about them. I have tried using drinks with additional potassium like drip drop but there is a lot of sugar in it and that gives me diarrhea too.
BD: Leg cramps can really interfere with a good night’s rest. Good sleep is essential to battling fatigue. To combat leg or muscle cramps, we need to consider both Potassium and Vitamin D.
Vitamin D helps absorb calcium which your muscles use to contract. Vitamin D deficiency can make muscle cramps worse. If you have not had your blood levels of vitamin D checked yet do talk with your doctor. Most Americans need approximately 800 IU vitamin D daily and you may need more if your blood levels are very low. Vitamin D is difficult to get entirely from foods and often we have to rely on some amount of vitamin supplements as well as a diet rich in fortified foods.
If you are looking to eat more potassium I have included a list of potassium rich foods which might be less likely to cause stomach upset. A typical diet can provide you with approximately 2000 mg of potassium. Aim to boost your diet with potassium rich food by another 500-1000 mg to fight muscle cramps and dehydration.
Spinach (1 cup cooked): 900 mg potassium
Baked potato (1 medium): 920 mg potassium
Dried Apricots (1/2 cup): 755 mg potassium
Acorn Squash (1 cup cooked): 899 mg potassium
Yogurt (1 cup nonfat): 625 mg potassium
Salmon (3 oz) 534 mg potassium
Avocado (1/2 cup mashed): 558 mg potassium