Take Your Vitamins

Recently, I’ve had several nights of sleeplessness caused by extremely painful cramps in my feet. In the middle of the night I’ve been awakened by severe pain with my toes curled up in knots. Massaging, stretching, walking, and ignoring have not effectively stopped the cramps. In fact, several nights I’ve resorted to getting up and going to the living room to read or watch TV because after working on cramped feet for as long as an hour, sleeping is no longer an option.

The other night after a foot cramp episode I decided to research causes to see if I could find a solution to this irritating problem. The two causes that I repeatedly read about were dehydration and lack of certain nutrients such as potassium. I find it hard to believe that I’m suffering from dehydration since I drink a quart or more of water daily as well as tea and juice. However, as a precaution, I am being increasingly vigilant about drinking plenty of water.

Upon further research, there are numerous vitamin or mineral deficiencies linked to cramping of the feet and legs. It’s not as simple as eating more bananas to increase potassium intake, since several of the B vitamins have also been linked to the problem and some sources link a lack of calcium or vitamin E to cramping of the legs and feet as well. This made me wonder if the changes I’ve made to my diet in an effort to lose weight could be the culprit.


My solution, start taking a daily multivitamin. This seems like an easy, reasonable attempt to solve this irritating problem. I found it interesting that you great uncle, E.V. McCollum, who’s credited with discovering the B vitamins and recognizing the importance of vitamins D and E as well as numerous minerals regarded “drugstore vitamin pills and supplements as snake-oil quackery” until his dying day. He felt strongly that eating a good, balanced diet was the way to get the vitamins and minerals needed by your body.

While I’ll never claim to be an expert on vitamins, minerals, and nutrition like ‘ole E.V., I will tell you that most doctors today believe it is important for people, especially young women to supplement their diet with a daily multivitamin and here are just a few of the reasons for this recommendation:

  • Lack of iron and B6 – anemia, confusion, tiredness, and headaches
  • Lack of vitamin C – muscle aches, unhealthy gums
  • Lack of vitamin D – depression, osteoporosis
  • Lack of vitamin A – numerous eye problems

Did you know vitamin deficiencies are linked to sensitivity to insect bites? Looks like I really do need to take my vitamins!


The March of Dimes has some of the best information of all for young women regarding vitamins and nutritional supplements. The focus of their research is related to the health of babies -“working together for stronger, healthier babies”; but as it turns out, good health for unborn babies is good health for women as well. They recommend folic acid for the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord (and this week a report linking folic acid to reduced risk of autism was released), but also to protect women from cancer and heart disease. Iron to lower the risk of low birth weight and preterm babies, but also to prevent anemia in women. Calcium for strong bones in a developing baby, but just as important, to prevent the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Good advice!

So finally, take your vitamins! They even make adult gummy vitamins so they’re more fun and less difficult to choke down. But do listen to Uncle E.V., don’t get carried away with what he called “drugstore snake-oil quackery”. His advice about eating a healthy diet is certainly worth taking as well.

Gummie vitamins - a big improvement
Gummie vitamins – a big improvement