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Why Do Bananas Cause Leg Cramps?

The Connection Between Bananas and Muscle Cramps

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. Bananas are a great addition because they are inexpensive, convenient, available year round, portable, taste good, and have lots of vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Some people, however, complain that they get foot and leg cramps when they eat bananas. There is a clear connection between bananas and leg cramps in my body. When I get a Charley Horse at night, it is almost certain that I ate bananas that day. When I don't eat bananas, I don't get leg cramps.

I decided to do some research about why bananas cause leg cramps and report my findings to you.

Bananas are a healthy fruit.  But they can also give you leg cramps.

Bananas are a healthy fruit. But they can also give you leg cramps.

Eat Bananas to Avoid Leg Cramps

The first few articles I read said that leg cramps can be caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. Nutrition experts actually recommended eating bananas to avoid leg cramps. For example, Wisegeek said:

To combat nocturnal legcramps, there are several criteria to check. Make sure that your intake of calcium, potassium, and magnesium are at sufficient levels. Potassium-rich foods in your diet should include bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cantaloupe, and citrus fruits.

Livestrong adds:

Bananas contain potassium. This mineral helps the body function optimally. Potassium is also an electrolyte, which moves electricity through your body.

Do Bananas Cause Leg Cramps?

This made me wonder if I was the only person who thought bananas actually caused leg cramps. It turns out that I am not. Here's a person on Yahoo Answers who was told that bananas help leg cramps. Another person asked on AOL Answers and received lots of support, but no real answers. It turns out that there are quite a few people who report this connection.

I needed to figure out what was causing leg cramps in people when they ate bananas when we are told that bananas help leg cramps. I thought about what I had learned in biology class about potassium and water.

Nutrition Guide on Amazon

Bananas in Science Class

A long time ago, I was taking a class in biology and the teacher was talking about how kidneys function. I hope the teacher forgives me if I learned or remembered incorrectly.

She said that the kidneys rely on sodium and potassium to help determine a balance of water. If you have too much sodium, the body will retain water. If you have too much potassium, your body will release water. As a teenager, I remember thinking, "I need to eat more bananas!"

The Connection Between Water and Potassium

I wanted to prove that my memory was correct about the effects of potassium to water levels in the body. Most of my findings talked about potassium being flushed out of the body along with water, stating that dehydration may cause low potassium levels. I didn't see anything that said that potassium makes you lose water, but many articles discussed a connection between sodium, potassium and water.

Here's another Livestrong quote:

Low potassium levels, or hypokalemia, can increase the risk of water retention and swelling, or edema. Sports Medicine also talks about Recommendations for Water, Sodium and Potassium:

To lower blood pressure, blunt the effects of salt, and reduce the risk of kidney stones and bone loss, adults should consume 4.7 grams of potassium per day.

The USDA says,

A low intake of dietary potassium, especially in the presence of high sodium intake, has been implicated in the pathogenesis of elevated BP [blood pressure].

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Next time you have a banana, drink some water with it.

Next time you have a banana, drink some water with it.

Solution to Leg Cramps Caused by Bananas

Dr. Jonathan Cluett on states that electrolyte imbalances and dehydration can cause leg cramps, among other causes

There is a simple solution to your leg cramps that are caused by eating bananas. No, you don't have to give up eating bananas.

The next time you eat a banana, simply drink some water with it. It may be dehydration that is causing your leg cramps.

© 2012 Shasta Matova

Comments: "Do Bananas Give You Leg Cramps? "

JD on October 11, 2019:

I get cramps in a hand or foot if I eat a few bananas. The dehydration/water loss makes sense as a cause.

George on September 18, 2019:

I will have leg cramps if I go a while without bananas and then eat one, I will get a calf cramp in the middle of the night. But if I eat one everyday this usually will not happen, but my leg cramps are more frequent at night. I also eat the banana at noon for lunch.

Donna on July 23, 2019:

Every time I eat a banana, within 30 minutes I get foot cramps, sometimes leg cramps. I am not lacking water...I had 2 bottle of water, then 1 banana and then another water...bam, I got foot cramp. My family says I'm nuts, banana's take away cramps. In my case they are so wrong. But, I am glad to see it happens to others and that I am not alone

Laurie Falk on June 11, 2018:

I usually have a half of a banana with my cereal for breakfast every morning and I am fine no leg cramps at all but, when I go for a second banana during the day when I lay down I get bad foot and toe cramps, I am sure now that it is the banana and that I am getting to much Potassium in my diet and after reading some of these post's I am sure now, thank you for being there for all of us on this banana thing and muscle cramps.

Linda on April 27, 2017:

Thank you for putting this connection into simple, understandable, plain English. I have also suffered, like my mother, but not anymore!

Jonny on December 01, 2016:

Thank you!

I have now rented a room for a while in a corridor where we share kitchen. Because of that I have started to eat lots of bananas, since i do long distance running and it's convenient to have them stacked in my room and they provide easy acces to a great energy-source and they are cheap and so on... so I have never averaged so many bananas per day ever Before. And I've never experienced som many horrible episodes of leg cramps in the middle of the night.

At first I was sure it was the long distance running that caused it... but then I was injured and couldn't run for a few Days. For a while i didn't eat any bananas at all until a couple of Days ago when I due to lack of ideas started making a habit of eating bananas instead of real dinner at night. And no surprise, woke up last night with horrible muscle cramps. There is no doubt that it was caused by eating bananas. Banana overdose!

Thank you guys for the article and comments. Now we know. =D

sherilee on August 11, 2016:

Finally someone who mentions toe cramps fpherj48! I just realized the banana to toe AND leg cramp correlation over the last couple of weeks. I am horrible about drinking water (I think I a m half camel). I too also heard that bananas help cramping. Surprised we are all getting the opposite effect. This will be a good motivation to drink water (or pickle juice I guess). Thanks all.

Elizabeth on June 17, 2015:

Thanks for this! I love drinking banana milk shakes in the morning but dont do it because of the horrible leg cramps i get even the day after my calf is very sore from the cramp. This explains alot and is very very helpful thanks again!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on February 10, 2015:

Thanks ideadesigns. Drinking more water is a great plan, and will help reduce leg cramps caused by bananas. Double win!

ideadesigns on January 07, 2015:

This is good to know. Banana + water. Water is something I am trying to get into a habit of drinking more. Thanks for sharing this!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on November 26, 2013:

Good idea Albert. Hopefully you can avoid leg cramps caused by eating bananas.

AlbertMM on November 25, 2013:

I have been running for a few months and tried long distance. It was then when i experienced cramps. I don't know if the bananas had been related to it as i was told that it would help prevent cramps. I remember having eaten bananas and didn't hydrate that well. I will try running without it next time and replace it with electrolyte drinks. Hopefully it will prevent cramps.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on September 10, 2013:

alilfireball, I thought I was the only one too! I would think that other sources of potassium would have the same effect, but for some reason I haven't noticed the connection of cramping with anything but bananas.

alilfireball on September 07, 2013:

I for one am happy to know that I am not the only person that experiences this. I forget and think that eating bananas will help but they actually increase the amount of leg and foot cramps I get by ten gold. I am going to look into other sources of potassium but will keep your water suggestion in mind on the rare event that I eat one.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 21, 2013:

Leg cramps are awful, especially when they come on suddenly in the middle of the night. Water and stretching works the best for me. Thank you for your comment PaulPd0.

PaulPd0 from Los Angeles, California on June 17, 2013:

Very, very interesting hub! Muscle cramps just seem to be one of these things - you hear bananas are good to eat if you get leg cramps because of the potassium, and then you hear something like this and realize that the majority of people that filled out the poll said they always get leg cramps from bananas! Check out my hubs to see what I've got to say about the dreaded leg cramps

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on January 05, 2013:

Thanks carltonsue - I'm able to eat bananas now since I've been drinking water with them. I hope this helps you as well.

carltonsue on January 04, 2013:

I eat lots of bananas each day and when work out I get cramps. My wife told me it was the bananas. I was about to give up bananas and try another fruit and I ran into your article. It makes total sense and will start drinking more water. thank you so much.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on October 27, 2012:

Thanks acaetnna, I hope you never have to suffer from leg cramps caused by bananas or anything else.

acaetnna from Guildford on October 27, 2012:

A very interesting article. You have given much 'food for thought'!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on October 17, 2012:

That's so true Nellieanna. I think it helps to think about the cause and effect - since bananas give me leg cramps and a glass of water stops the cramps, I don't have a problem remembering to drink water when I eat a banana. But there are many other issues that are harder to remember and it is hard to stick to new habits.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on October 15, 2012:

:-) One's biggest challenge may be revising the responsible habit - and then sticking to it!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on October 15, 2012:

Thank you Nellieanna for your additional insight. That is a very smart idea - to listen to your own body and see how it reacts to what you do and eat.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on October 14, 2012:

I daily eat a generous bowl of fresh fruit, alone with no other food, and it includes a banana. At my 80 years of age, taking no meds and being independent and self-sufficient, I attribute my overall good health and vitality at least in part to this practice. I've always had strong leg muscles and when young, they cramped frequently. It happens rarely now, so I'm not sure if there is or isn't a relationship with my daily banana. I usually do drink plenty of water, but when I slight on that, the result is more likely water retention, especially if I've overdone intake of salt, which is not my usual habit. If I do, it's most often from crackers or chips at snack time. So I desist and swelling subsides.

Seems to me we know, if we think, why our bodies react to certain things we do. It seldom takes much to figure out what we did and to correct it. Someone else's experience probably involves a group of factors which ours may lack. So it's wisest to listen to one's own gut feeling and common sense, perhaps.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on August 28, 2012:

Thanks Jeannie, it looks like most people get fewer leg cramps, and not more by eating bananas. I am glad for them, but people like me feel left out. I thought I drank a lot of water too, but apparently not enough for the bananas. Now I can eat bananas and not suffer from leg cramps simply by drinking even more water.

Jeannie Marie from Baltimore, MD on August 27, 2012:

I always heard bananas helped prevent leg cramps! Shesh! This is so complicated. I've noticed a decrease in leg issues since I've been eating bananas. I guess it depends on how much water you drink, which I drink A LOT. So I guess that is why bananas are my friend. Thanks for the information. Really interesting hub and voted up!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on July 18, 2012:

Thanks Keri - I hope you never get any leg cramps when you eat bananas, but after a salt free diet, I often get them. Drinking water does help tremendously.

Keri Summers from West of England on July 17, 2012:

This is a fascinating Hub. I've never realised a connection, (apart from bananas supposedly helping cramps) and haven't had cramp in a while, but then I have got better at drinking water, I think. However, having been on a pretty much salt free diet for several years, I've deliberately been adding salt to things occasionally, because I've felt I've needed it. Really helpful, as cramp is sooooooo painful.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on July 10, 2012:

Thank you carozy - I was trying to get a contract with a large fruit company to give a banana to everyone who reads this hub, but they weren't being cooperative. You are going to have to get your own, but be assured in the fact that most people who read this hub do eat a banana with a glass of water to test out the information here.

carozy from San Francisco on July 09, 2012:

Well a very interesting article. Voted up. Now where's my banana...

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 13, 2012:

Thanks Vinaya - I will have to try your cure for stomach cramps.

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on June 12, 2012:

I had no idea about the connection of banana and leg cramps. By the way, we eat banana and yoghurt to cure stomach cramps.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 08, 2012:

I think that this reaction is rare, but it is possible for people who are on a low salt diet. I am glad that bananas are helpful, or at least not hurtful for you.

Amy L. Tarr from Home on June 08, 2012:

My Mom always swore that bananas prevented leg cramps. Perhaps I'm not prone to having this reaction as I've never had a cramp after eating a banana. I always assumed my Mom was right (as usual).

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 07, 2012:

I'm glad you don't have any issues with bananas, urmilashukla23. I am fine with them as long as I drink lots of water, even though I thought I was drinking lots already. Thanks for your comment and vote.

Urmila from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA on June 06, 2012:

I eat banana and don`t get leg cramps. However one of my friend eats banana when she gets leg cramps. That helps her. I think magic is to drink lots of water. Educational and voted up!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 04, 2012:

Thanks Melovy and Vellur. Like Melovy said, I guess the lesson here is to make sure that we keep all of our minerals in balance, and drink lots of water so we can avoid getting leg cramps when we eat bananas.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 03, 2012:

I never knew bananas helped leg cramps. Thanks for sharing. Voted up.

Yvonne Spence from UK on June 03, 2012:

Interesting hub. I have never thought that bananas might cause cramp, though I have heard that lack of magnesium does. I guess it’s best to maintain a balance with whatever minerals we have. I read a book a while ago that attributed a lot of pains to lack of water, so drinking more does seem a good idea.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 03, 2012:

Thank you Linda. It is amazing how the same things seem to have different reactions in different people. I have a friend who says that caffeine makes her sleepy.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on June 03, 2012:

Hi MT, Bananas are awesome! I eat one a day and so far they have get leg cramps away:) They are great for potassium and to help ease sore muscles after a workout. They seem to work for me. UP! Awesome!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on June 03, 2012:

Thank you unknown spy.

DragonBallSuper on June 02, 2012:

Very interesting.. I heart bananas!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on May 23, 2012:

Thanks Healthy Pursuits. It certainly is all about balance.

Karla Iverson from Oregon on May 22, 2012:

When I was reading your great hub, I was thinking that you needed more fluids. Glad to see you got there, and that you did a great job of covering the four causes of leg and food cramping.

If you eat a banana and limit your salt intake, and if you don't tend to drink enough fluids, there's your answer. Only one banana has 1/2 the RDA of potassium we need per day. If you eat a banana and don't have enough salt in your diet to balance it, that would be almost like taking a water pill. I've only had leg cramps when I was low on magnesium. A friend only had them when her calcium was low. I guess it all depends on the person.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on May 20, 2012:

Thank you for your comment phdast7. I hadn't heard of calcium and magnesium as affecting cramps. Let's make a deal - you work on your fluid intake, and I'll work on calcium and magnesium, and hopefully we will both be without leg cramps ever more!

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on May 20, 2012:

Very interesting and helpful (you are a great researcher). I had always heard that calcium, magnesium and potassium were helpful for leg cramps as well as.

I take a mineral supplement for that very reason, but still have very intense cramps that wake m up at night 3 or 4 times a month. I will start paying more attention to my fluid intake. Great Hub and thank you.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on May 06, 2012:

Thank you Crazzykylex. How is the bananas and milk combination dangerous?

Crazzykylex from Incredible India! on May 06, 2012:

Even having bananas with a glass of milk can be dangerous. By the way, great informative hub Shashta!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 27, 2012:

Thanks Ruchira. I have been eating a banana a day this week and drinking a glass of water with it, and I haven't had leg cramps this week. I am so glad I discovered this, because I was afraid I would have to give up bananas altogether. Thanks for the confirmation.

Ruchira from United States on April 26, 2012:

Good pointers Shasta.

Bananas are rich in potassium and was advised in my pregnancy to consume many ,cause of leg cramps but I agree my doc also advised me to drink water..

Voted up as interesting.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

Thanks barbergirl28, I hope this helps your husband. Tell him I said drink more water!

Stacy Harris from Hemet, Ca on April 25, 2012:

Very interesting... like you said, I have always heard that bananas help relieve leg cramps, but it makes sense that if you are dehydrated or levels are off in your body that it could also give you leg cramps. I luckily have never suffered but my husband gets leg cramps all the time. I don't know if I can necessarily associate them with bananas because obviously I don't track what goes in his mouth all the time, but definitely gonna have to give him this bit of information. Thanks for the great hub!

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 25, 2012:

Most people don't see an association with leg cramps and bananas, Aurelio, but I can tell you for certain that in my body there is one. It might have to do with the fact that I generally try to limit how much salt that I eat. I am glad you are not afflicted with this issue.

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on April 24, 2012:

I eat a prodigious amount of bananas and do not have leg cramps, so I don't think there's an association between the two. Voting this Up and Interesting though.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 24, 2012:

Thanks Green Lotus and Lady_E. I never really focused too much on specific vitamins, figuring that I could simply try to eat healthy and take a multi-vitamin now and then to cover the difference. But I had to learn it to figure out that the kidneys use potassium and sodium to balance how much water you need in your body.

Elena from London, UK on April 24, 2012:

Very interesting read - I hope to look into it further.

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on April 24, 2012:

Millionaire - We are thinking alike! I've been writing articles on vitamins, mentioning how I take my potassium tablets to deal with water weight and blood pressure. As for bananas, they never did give me leg cramps but then again I don't test it out very often :) Cheers.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 24, 2012:

Hi Ardie! How awful! I've never had both legs cramp up at the same time. Thanks for the tip about stretching. I'll have to add that to my bedtime regiment, especially when I am eating bananas.

Sondra from Neverland on April 23, 2012:

Hi Millionaire Tips!! I tend to get leg cramps at night when Im in bed. The worst is when I wake up and hop out of bed only to realize BOTH legs are cramped up...and I crumple to the floor. I was always told to eat bananas to get rid of the cramps but it just never seemed to work. So now when I am in bed (right before sleep) I flex my toes towards my knees for a few seconds and then gently point my toes out. I repeat that several times to stretch my calf muscles and it really seems to help. Great information and research here :)

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 23, 2012:

Thank you Blawger, I hope you never have to suffer leg cramps whether or not they are caused by bananas.

Thank you Turtlewoman, if there is anything incorrect in my research, please be sure to let me know. I am just learning this stuff. I will be sure to look look at your pickle juice hub, although I can't promise to drink it!

Thank you fpherj48. I have toe cramps too, and I know exactly what you mean. It's like the tendons are too short. I find a massage helps as well, starting from the ankle, or wherever the cramp starts, and working my way down the foot. And breathing, since I tend to hold my breath when I am in pain. I am not sure whether the hydration has to take place before you go to bed, or whether drinking water throughout the day would work. I know what you mean, it is hard for you (and your family) to get a restful sleep if you have to keep getting up in the middle of the night.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 23, 2012:

Thank you Diana Lee, Yaazhini and Berga. I hope drinking water and keeping your minerals in balance helps you with your leg cramps.

Shasta Matova (author) from USA on April 23, 2012:

Thank you RTalloni, teaches12345, and lobobrandon. I enjoyed doing the investigative legwork on this, and am eating a banana as I type this, and drinking lots of water. Hopefully both of my legs will approve.

Suzie from Carson City on April 23, 2012:

Milltips.....I have not experienced leg cramps, but I do deal with foot/toes cramps...while in bed at the end of the day. They're horrible.....actually feels like the tendons in my feet are "pulling" and my toes literally bend backwards. (seriously) The only way to stop it is to stand and press down on my toes in the other direction.

Unfortunately, I understand "some" of the reason for this is it's important to hydrate w/ a huge glass of water....just the thing you want to do before falling asleep, right? Like we don't make enough trips to and the middle of the night!

Kim Lam from California on April 23, 2012:

Oh, vote up and interesting:-)

Kim Lam from California on April 23, 2012:

Hi Shasta,

Coming from a science background, it's nice to see that you explained the effects of a chemical imbalance in our body. Too much of anything will cause our body to react, whether it's potassium or sodium. Bananas just so happens to have a high amount of potassium. Great example, although its pretty rare. I like how you provided a solution at the end by drinking water along with eating a lot of bananas. Next time you have a cramp, you can try drinking pickle juice...I wrote a hub about it! :-)

Bahin Ameri from California on April 23, 2012:

Very interesting. I had no idea bananas could actually cause leg cramps. Thanks for teaching me something new. Voted up!

Berga from SKIEN on April 23, 2012:

great info! brings clarity if one is confused :)

Yaazhini on April 23, 2012:

Very useful and informative article.

Diana L Pierce from Potter County, Pa. on April 23, 2012:

This is very interesting. I suffer from leg cramps sometimes. Voted up.

Brandon Lobo on April 23, 2012:

Great hub reading an informational hub after a long time :)

Dianna Mendez on April 23, 2012:

This is helpful information for me as I eat a banana everyday. I have not experienced leg cramps, but it's probably because I drink lots of water. Good information to have handy. Thanks for sharing.

RTalloni on April 23, 2012:

So interesting--thanks for sharing your suspicions, investigation, and your conclusions on the question of whether bananas could be at the root of leg cramps!

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