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I have heard many times growing up that if your eyelid is twitching, it means you need more potassium in your diet, and therefore should eat more bananas.

A quick search online finds a variety of recommendations for treating a twitchy eyelid, including eating bananas. Many of these recommendations appear to originate from proponents of alternative medicine.

Examples:

An example claim:

Potassium

A nutrient found in potent amounts in bananas, potassium is an effective treatment for muscle spasms and other disorders. Potassium is considered an electrolyte that promotes the effective functioning of the cells, tissues and organs. Eating bananas regularly and taking a potassium supplement can help prevent and treat spasms of the eyes and other muscles.

Is there scientific, medical basis for any of the following claims:

  • Insufficient Potassium in your diet can cause your eyelids to twitch.
  • Insufficient Potassium in your diet can cause muscle spasms.
  • Eating bananas provides your body with Potassium.
  • Eating bananas will keep your eyelids from twitching (i.e. for any other reason than dietary Potassium).
  • Eating bananas will prevent (or reduce) muscle spasms (i.e. for any other reason than dietary Potassium).
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    Couldn't find any primary sources, but just to share my research: it's called benign fasciculation syndrome. Wikipedia says that the ingredient that is missing is magnesium, and that bananas are used as treatment. No references to research on your question, though. – Peter Sep 20 '15 at 17:50
  • I think this is relevant: When I was a teenager I was found to have high potassium in my blood(don't know how high). I occasionally still have heart palpitations and skipped beats. I'd say my muscles(legs, arms) twitch more than the average person. I've even been known to suddenly kick while relaxing. – n00dles Sep 21 '15 at 4:52
  • The current answers - and possibly the claimants - seem to have each latched onto one different cause of eyelid twitching, but haven't shown they are the only cause. – Oddthinking Sep 22 '15 at 7:56
  • @Oddthinking I think I've shown the opposite, in fact. There a different cuases, and they usually work together. – Peter Sep 22 '15 at 12:13
  • @Peter: You've latched onto BFS, but ignored non-benign causes. (e.g. ALS, Bell's palsy, Dystonia, Parkinson's disease, Tourette's syndrome, Isaacs' syndrome, etc.) I don't know how Fasciculation and Myokymia fit together. (They sound the same to me, but what do I know?) – Oddthinking Sep 22 '15 at 12:43
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The condition is called Benign Fasciculation Syndrome. No direct study of bananas (or any other food) as a treatment for BFS has ever been done, as far as I can find with Google scholar, but we can find some evidence in pieces.

The direct cause of BFS is not currently known, but there is evidence that it is induced by magnesium deficiency. The publication Introduction to symposium on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. by Flink LM. from 1957. Is cited by several sources for this claim. I can't find a copy, but I doubt I'd be able to read it if I could.

However, according to the article above, sodium chloride (ie. common salt) deficiency can also be a cause, as well as basic fatigue, stress, overexertion, etc.

While bananas are high in magnesium, it seems the question of how this translates into bioavailable magnesium is a difficult problem to study. So even that part is uncertain.

My interpretation (again, not a doctor) is that when people are under extra stress, lack of sleep, or increased exertion (like sports), they burn through their reserves faster than they can replenish them. It can be magnesium that causes the problem, but it can also be many other nutrients. So, part of the problem is actually eating a balanced diet. However, if you feel your eye twitching and your diet hasn't changed, but your sleep pattern has, then eating a bunch of bananas isn't going to do much good. The problem is that your body isn't absorbing the nutrients, because you're not getting enough sleep. So even if light magnesium deficiency is the cause, it pays to figure out why you lack magnesium. Cramming bananas into your face won't help if have a gastrointestinal problem.

As far as I can tell, potassium deficiency has never been seriously suggested as a cause.

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