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chisue

At Last! Mini-Vitamins for Seniors

chisue
4 months ago
last modified: 4 months ago

I'm researching daily supplements in hopes resuming them might help the painful, every-night muscle contractions DH is enduring in his legs.

I first quit taking vitamins because I couldn't swallow the 'horse pills'. Then the 'gummies' got negative health reviews. He quit when we read how useless vitamin supplements are *for most Americans*. I'm reaching for straws, but he did quit close to the time he started having these contractions (September). They are much worse now.

I'm glad to discover *minis*. Centrum makes some that seem to contain most of what's recommended for Seniors. (Would need to add Magnesium, Potasium, maybe Vit. C.)

Any tips on these for us 80+ folks? I made a list of recommended amounts to compare that aspect, but I don't know about the *quality* of any brand of multi-vitamins (since the FDA doesn't regulate supplements).

DH has had no diagnosis or help after consulting a neurologist and an orthopedic guy. He can't see his primary for another 10 days. He has an appointment with a rheumatologist next month. He's exhausted. His knees hurt. His thigh muscles ache. Worth trying the vitamins?

Comments (26)

  • blfenton
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    If he is on any prescriptions could muscle cramping be a side effect of any of them? Maybe google side effects of those.

    I have always had trouble swallowing any pills so I take a chewable multivitamin and a chewable Vitamin C both manufactured by Jamieson. Im sure that there is some sort of additive in them to make them palatable.

    I'm going to check out the mini ones by Centrum. Thanks for mentioning that.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    4 months ago

    Has he tried a magnesium supplement yet? I understand it can help with muscle cramping.

    Megadose supplements are hooey, IMO, but taking a basic daily multi is what I do - along with a calcium/magnesium/vit.D supplement and glucosamine.

    There are also liquid formulations.

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  • Jasdip
    4 months ago

    I have restless legs syndrome. When I'm tired, my feet move back and forth on the carpet. In bed they move around, not cramping, but I just have little tingles or something that makes me move them around.

    I bought one of those circulation machines that sent electric spasms up your legs. Similar to a Dr. Ho but cheaper. Drugstores sell them. It helps enormously. I put my feet on it when watching tv etc. I don't use it daily, just when I feel my legs acting up again at night.


  • ritamay91710
    4 months ago

    Make sure they check his Vitamin D level. That can cause all over body pain if it's low. Also, my mom swore by sleeping with a bar of soap under the sheet for her leg cramps. I've never tried it, so can't offer first hand knowledge. Good luck.

  • floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK
    4 months ago

    We used to buy soluble multivitamins for my fil when he began to forget to eat properly. He quite enjoyed his fizzy orange drink at breakfast, unaware of what it was.

  • LynnNM
    4 months ago

    Sue, my DH is a recently retired family practice physician. A while back he started getting horrible leg cramps/contractions during the night. Looking at all the factors in his daily routine, he then realized that he was surprisingly not consuming enough water every day. He upped his intake and the nighttime cramping has completely disappeared.

    He tells me that the average adult should drink 70 to 90 ounces of water a day. But, that it really depends on your size, your daily activity, and how hot it is where you live and workout. So, nothing carved in stone, but factors we all need to consider. WATER, not iced tea, coffee, sodas, etc! AND, you also should drink more water to counteract any coffee or alcohol intake. BTW, that really helps to avoid a hangover, too (LOL). And, yes, if one is trying to eliminate nighttime cramping by drinking more water, you can naturally expect more trips to the loo. But, that's what kidneys are for.

    I'm NOT giving out medical advice, but just passing along what has worked for him and his patients for many (many) years. I hope that it will help your DH, as I've seen firsthand how painful and exhausting those nighttime leg (etc) cramps can be!

  • PRO
    MDLN
    4 months ago

    Regarding vitamin quality you may want to look at USP verification.

    https://www.usp.org/verification-services/verified-mark

    Assume the maximum tolerated dose gabapentin was not effective. (Our pain mgmt docs start low to minimize side effects and increase to max 3600 mg/day.) ☹

    If not already done, may want to consider testing for peripheral arterial/vascular disease with cardiologist.

    Good luck!

  • woodrose
    4 months ago

    I take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement and Vitamin D-3 every day. I don't have much appetite and don't eat enough, so I'm sure I wouldn't get everything I need from my food.

    I'm not sure what gabapentin has to do with vitamins. I used to take it for leg cramps until I realized it was causing my leg cramps. I was doing well until the doctor upped the dosage on my diuretic med and now the cramps are back. She recommended drinking Gatorade and lots of water, which helps.

    chisue, your husbands cramps could be caused by dehydration, and he also could be low on potassium. Try to get him to drink more fluids , and I don't think taking an OTC potassium supplement would hurt anything. I sure hope he can find something that helps. I suffer with foot, and lower leg cramps and occasional thigh cramps, which are the worst, and I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

  • blfenton
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Lynn - Thanks for mentioning water as I meant to do so.

    When my mom moved closer to us and I was going to be keeping an eye on her I googled best diet (not weight loss but health-wise) for seniors and missing vitamins in a seniors diet. She was eating quite well but the first item on every list for the missing "vitamin" was water. Many seniors do not drink enough water and apparently you can start to lose your sense of thirst by the time we are in our mid-50's.

    And I mentioned side effects of a prescription again after my experience with my mom. My mom was on a blood pressure medication and one for dizziness. I checked the side effects of her medications and a side effect of her blood pressure medication was dizziness. I asked her new doctor about it and she changed the medication where dizziness wasn't as much of an issue and lowered and eventually stopped her dizziness medication.

    This is just my experience and I'm not a doctor.

  • patriceny
    4 months ago

    In case it is helpful, for you or for anyone in the future reading this thread - diet soda causes me very painful nighttime leg/calf/foot cramping.


    I very rarely drink any soda - but when I did, it was a diet. Eventually I realized if I drank more than a sip or two of soda, I was almost guaranteed to get muscle cramping. Once I realized the potential connection I tried conducted my own mini experiments, and have verified for myself that is what causes it, in me.


    If I don't drink any diet sodas, zero leg or foot cramping at night. If I have just a little bit it's hit or miss. But if I drink a whole can, or drink a little bit several days in a row....eventually the cramping starts.


    No idea what in the diet soda causes it, and also don't care because it's not an issue as long as I don't drink it. I don't miss the stuff so no loss, IMO.

  • kevin9408
    4 months ago

    I suggest you research Nitric oxide in addition to your supplement research. Nitric oxide is produced by the body naturally but production degrades with age, A deficiency will cause problems we all experience but write off as old age.

    Serve up some beets for your DH tonight. It's high in dietary nitrates which your body can convert to nitric oxide in less than an hour, and see how he does tonight. It won't hurt and nothing to lose.

  • chisue
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Wonderful to be able to count on my KT friends for help! Thanks, all.


    DH first experienced what were merely 'jerks' in his legs the two or three times his psychiatrist had him stop taking Abilify 1MG. Within three nights, his legs would wake him. That was 3 - 6 years ago. The dose is not even considered theraputic, but it helped his mild (lifelong) anxiety -- something we believe is inherited. (We know little of his birth family.) This excellent psychiatrist has had to retire.


    In May of 2021 we changed primary docs. The new one was hysterical about insisting DH stop Abilify. The psychiatrist she referred him to also said to quit, cold turkey. Big mistake. The leg twitches began again, as they always had.


    DH saw a neurologist, who diagnosed non-Parkinism and Akathesia. He said to go back on Abilify 1MG. (At 83, if Abilify hadn't hurt him yet, what were the chances?) DH still wanted to get off the Abilify because long use can lead to Tardive Dyskenesia (sp?). Online he found advice to reduce slowly, by tenths of a MG per week. He got down to 0.52 in September without any problem, then -- *perhaps coincidentally* -- the muscle spasms began again. He resumed taking Abilify at 1MG, but that didn't help. The muscle spasms have become much stronger. He has two or three episodes per night. Ice helps a little. Heat makes it worse. We are both pretty *tired*.


    He saw the neurologist again. The man changed his mind. DH doesn't have Akathesia or non-Parkinism. He has...wait for it...unexplained leg tremors. This man prescribed Gabapentin 300 MG. Six weeks later...no relief, and DH saw a new psychiatrist, who upped the Gabapentin to 600 MG. If anything, the spasms got worse, and DH felt 'wired'. New Psychiatrist said to stop Abilify and Gabapentin. He doubled the dose of Duloxetine to 40 MG, which is DH's only current med, along with Lisinopril 20 MG. (BP is excellent with that.)


    This week DH saw an orthopedic guy. X-rays show mild arthritis in both knees, but nothing else wrong. He suggested an electrolyte imbalance could be the problem. DH is to see the excitable primary doctor Feb. 3.


    While I'm glad to discover the mini vitamins for myself, we are leery of DH taking any supplements until he's had blood work. If there is an electrolyte problem, it could be too MUCH of something as well as too little.


    We both make an effort to drink four cups of water a day and have 'his and hers' pitchers on the kitchen counter to that end. Neither of us has been able to manage more than that so far. We eat well and avoid salted foods. We eat all the things advised on the 'electrolyte' lists. The mystery continues.

  • blfenton
    4 months ago

    You two have been through the wringer trying to solve the issue of your DH's leg tremors. Good idea not to add anything more until he's had his blood work done. I sure hope he gets rebalanced soon and you both start to get some sleep.

    Let us know how you are both doing.

  • OutsidePlaying
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Yes to what others have said about dehydration, Vitamin D and magnesium.

    When I ran long distances ( and even now) i have to stay hydrated, especially when the winter heat comes on. Vit D helps with absorption of calcium and most adults are deficient. You can buy a huge bottle, and the gel caps are small. One a day is fine. Most blood tests will reveal if your DH is deficient.

    Good luck!

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b
    4 months ago

    FWIW, fresh fruit and soups contain a lot of water - and it does not have to be plain water, tea is hydrating - as well as coffee, believe it or not.

  • blfenton
    4 months ago

    carol - funny you should mention coffee. I don't pay any attention to those studies that say coffee is a diuretic, only those that say it counts as a hydrator. :)

  • maire_cate
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Speaking of mini pills - Nature's Bounty has mini fish oil capsules. You need to take 2 but I find they are easier to swallow.

  • sephia_wa
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Only 4 cups of water each day? Better Google what the recommended daily intake of water should be. I think you'll find only 4 cups a day to be not enough.

    Here's a hydration calculator. It's from Weight Watchers. I found the same formula for calculating hydration on other sites.

    https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/blog/health/how-much-water-should-you-drink-a-day

  • sjerin
    4 months ago

    Has he tried eating a little mustard (or pickle juice) at the time a cramp comes on? My mother (who also had severe RLS,) swore by it. I wish you both well—you’ve been through so much.

  • chisue
    Original Author
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    sephia -- Thanks for the calculation scale. I multiplied the 'over 55' number of 0.481 by 103 (my weight). I need six cups of water a day. I'm drinking four and bet I get two from soup, tea, food. However... according to this scale, DH (177 lbs.) needs TEN cups a day. Just four of water can't possibly be enough for him, sedentary and old (80's) though we are.

    Outside Playing -- The only 'low' on my blood tests has been Vitamin D, so we both take that daily. I'm hoping DH's blood work shows us *something*...something that we can FIX!

    sjerin -- I'll try the mustard. (Need to buy some pickles!)

  • wcjo
    4 months ago

    Make sure you read the label carefully when starting something new. I missed the side effects warning on something as simple as the magnesium bottle. OMG, the "may cause gastric upset" was immediate, unbelievable, just awful, I can't stress strongly enough !!!! and took days to resolve. These additions to our diets can be just as harmful as complex prescription drugs. Just be sure you really need them, not just because we think we might, or some article (like I read) says you "probably" do. A simple multi vitamin for seniors and Calcium w/D is usually enough. When I needed to start taking something for cholesterol, my doctor had to change my medication/dose several times until we found one that I could tolerate without the leg cramps and aches. Is your husband taking anything for cholesterol that might be causing the pain? I hope he gets it resolved. Chronic pain is so hard to tolerate every day.

  • Yayagal
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I have stage 3+ kidney disease. My top doc at Mass. General told me to buy this when you cramp and it will stop. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XD2YSX1/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?encoding=UTF8&aaxitk=b705f7814f8c213d3a3b51c6ebef1486&hsa_cr_id=4661652000001&pd_rd_plhdr=t&pd_rd_r=ef590713-ebd1-413f-beba-61b0642a74e0&pd_rd_w=3tPl1&pd_rd_wg=JpX2l&ref=sbx_be_s_sparkle_mcd_asin_0img

  • chisue
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Yayagal -- Thanks. Hmm...I see the active ingredient is magnesium sulfate.


    Last night DH only had one bout of the muscle contractions, starting an hour after he laid down; they were stronger than usual; went on for 15 minutes.


    I so appreciate your support!

  • socks
    4 months ago

    Oh, your poor husband! I'm so sorry and feel there surely is a "fix," but you just have to find it. All the doctor visits are tiring, but you have to keep at it. Maybe call his primary on Monday and ask if they have a list for people to take advantage of cancellations.


    Reading leg cramp threads, I've seen tonic water mentioned to help quell cramps. Have you tried that? I hope a solution is reached very soon so he will be more comfortable.


    @Jasdip I'm glad to hear someone else has these twitchy legs, especially when tired.

  • whatsayyou18
    4 months ago

    Could he be deficient in vitamins B12, B1, B6, thiamine? (I'm now the Vit. B12 poster child and biggest fan since it seems to be reversing my neuropathy). Magnesium supplement and/or mag. oil spray on his legs at night (I understand it can help with restless leg syndrome so perhaps cramps, too?)? In the reading I've done for neuropathy I'm learning how supplements become more and more important as we age. Yes, to more water.