Have you ever had one of those super annoying little eye twitches? Or maybe a twitch in your arm or your leg or someplace?
Well, these are called fasciculations and I’m happy to tell you that most of the time, these are very harmless. However, they are super annoying of course. I get a lot of people coming in the clinic and they're worried about them. So, let’s review the main causes of muscle twitches, and how you can take care of them naturally.
The first big reason that you're getting these twitches is too much caffeine. Caffeine is of course a nervous system stimulant. It's just going to make your nerves be a little more excitable than normal, resulting in the twitching.
So if you're drinking tons of caffeine or maybe a sports drink or an energy drink or something like that with caffeine, this may be why you're getting those fasciculations.
The second big cause is alcohol. Alcohol is a CNS or central nervous system depressant. If you've ever gone out on a bender on a Friday or Saturday night and you wake up the next day and you've got these twitches in your body, that's because the alcohol is still negatively affecting your nervous system, creating these nerve twitches.
If you're drinking too much then cut back on that and the twitches will go away.
Another big cause of muscle twitches is dehydration. Of course alcohol is going to dehydrate you and there's a lot of other ways to get dehydrated too. So if you don't drink but you're still getting a lot of muscle twitches, you need to really check your hydration levels.
We recommend drinking about half your body weight in ounces per day - that's kind of a general recommendation to make sure that you're well enough hydrated.
4. Lack of sleep/fatigue
The next reason you can get muscle twitches is from lack of sleep or fatigue. We know that when you're not sleeping of course, that's not good for your nervous system either. That'll set you up for these twitches.
And ofcourse if you have eye strain on top of being tired - most of us are looking at computers all day - our eyes get tired - and that can really set you up for the twitches up in your eyeballs and which are especially annoying so think about getting some better sleep.
If you have a lot of stress, this can also set off muscle twitches. So all you need to do is press that no stress button and it'll all go away right?!
Easier said than done!
But seriously that's a big reason for getting these muscle twitches is from being stressed out.
There are several medications that you need to be aware of.
The first group are the corticosteroids. These are things like prednisone that you take if you have something like a really bad joint pain or maybe you're trying to get rid of bronchitis. Ideally you're on these medications for a very short amount of time. But if you're on them and all of a sudden you get the muscle twitches, well you can blame it on this medication.
The other class of drugs that cause muscle twitches are the oral estrogens. These are for postmenopausal women who are trying to balance out their hormones. Oral estrogen can set you up for muscle twitches. We see more of that in ladies who are taking these medications.
It’s not necessarily the topical estrogen, but it's more when it's taken by mouth.
7. Nutrient deficiencies
There are four main nutrient deficiencies that can set you up for muscle twitches, and this also means they can be used to resolve muscle twitching as well.
The first nutrient is vitamin D. As you know, we need vitamin D in our bodies for a number of different things and it also has an important effect on your muscle function.
A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to sore muscles and twitching.
As you’re probably aware you need the sun shining on your skin to make enoughvitamin D. Most of us don't have that luxury because we're inside or we don’t live in the tropics. So take a vitamin D pill. I like to have people take about 5,000 units a day. Make sure your blood level is about around 50. Get your blood level checked before you start supplementing with any vitamin D.
Second big nutrient is calcium. I don't talk about calcium deficiency a lot because Americans tend to eat so much calcium in the various dairy products that we consume.
However if you don't eat dairy, you can still get a lot of calcium in your diet through leafy greens, cold water fish, nuts and seeds. So if you're dairy-free, you need to make sure that you’re getting enough of those foods in your diet.
If you're drinking alternative milks like almond milk and coconut milk or soy milk, etc. - most of these are fortified with calcium these days. But still check out how much calcium you're taking overall in your diet.
We like women to take about 1,000 milligrams a day for their bone health. And of course if you don’t participate in weight-bearing sports (and I'm talking to you cyclists!), you need to take some calcium as well. And of course that vitamin D helps pull that calcium into your body and will also help get rid of those muscle twitches.
The last two nutrients are vitamin B6 and B12 of course. TheseB-vitaminshave more of an effect on your nervous system. When you're deficient in these, you can develop something called neuropathy - which is like pins and needles feeling, muscle pain and of course those twitches. You don't have to have all those going on to be deficient, but if you're getting the twitches, you need to look at your B vitamin levels. And so we like everybody to take a b-complex vitamin just because it's good for so many different things.
It can support your adrenal glands, help support neurotransmitter function, good for stress and of course will get rid of the muscle twitches. So think about taking like the B6 complex.