Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): Information, Research, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)


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The below provides a general overview on this topic and may not apply to everyone. Any treatment protocol should be discussed with a qualified healthcare practitioner ... Please refer to: Medical & Legal Disclaimer.


The Sleep Thief!Patients with restless legs often have an almost irresistible urge to move their limbs, particularly at night. Scientists believe that RLS results from poor dopamine metabolism, either because of a genetic trait (~40 percent of all cases) or an underlying health problem, such as iron deficiency or diabetes.

  • Iron: This nutrient appears to play an important role in dopamine metabolism and, thus, nerve health. More than a fourth of all RLS patients are deficient in ferritin (the form in which the body stores iron). Before taking iron supplements, get your ferritin levels checked. Standard blood tests don't measure it. So you have to ask for the specific test. Doctors recommend supplementation only if ferritin levels measure less than 50 ng/ml. For those with a deficiency, studies show that taking 200 to 300 mg of oral ferrous sulfate one to three times a day (depending on the degree of deficiency) can improve RLS symptoms if taken over several months. For optimal absorption, take the supplement on an empty stomach, an hour or two after your last meal. Since taking too much iron can cause serious health problems, make sure to have your iron levels monitored while supplementing.
  • Folic Acid: Dean Neary Jr., ND, chairman of the physical medicine department at Bastyr University in Seattle states: "People who respond best to high doses of folic acid are people who have a family history of RLS. Perhaps there is some deficiency that gets passed from gene to gene that causes malabsorption of the folic acid end." Start at 5 mg daily and if symptoms persist, your holistic doctor may increase your dose to as high as 30 mg. Keep in mind that these dosages are very high - so work under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
  • Magnesium: RLS can occur because of an electrolyte imbalance, says Norma Cuellar, RN, and RLS researcher with the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. For instance, people who have an eating disorder or who undergo gastric-bypass surgery often develop RLS. If an electrolyte imbalance is the culprit, taking extra magnesium may help. This mineral promotes muscle and nerve health. Suggested doses: 200 to 800 mg of elemental magnesium a day at bed time (start with a low dose and move up, if necessary) -- as always discuss with your doctor.



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