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Healthy Eating for Women

Ask the Nutritionist: Cramps

I get cramps in my legs and feet during and after workouts. What could be causing the cramps?

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Q: I get cramps in my legs and feet during and after workouts. I eat a lot of bananas, so I think I get plenty of potassium. What else could be causing the cramps?

A: You’re right: As long as you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and have normal functioning kidneys, potassium deficiency is likely not your problem, unless you use diuretics, vomit often or have frequent diarrhea, which can decrease your potassium supply. Instead, low-calcium intake could be the culprit of your cramps. You should be aiming for 1,300 milligrams of calcium — and no less than 800 milligrams of calcium — per day. You can near those numbers by drinking two to three glasses of milk a day (8 ounces of milk contains about 300 milligrams of calcium) and eating other dairy products, such as yogurt, cheese sticks or cottage cheese. You also can add to your calcium intake by eating more beans, seafood and leafy greens. If you opt for nondairy milk, be sure to look for brands that are fortified with calcium.