Restless Legs Syndrome

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People who suffer from this condition often complain of creepy-crawly sensations or itchy burning feelings, especially at night. RLS can wreak havoc on sleep and disrupts people’s work and social lives, because there is an almost irresistible urge to move their limbs to relieve the sensation, if only temporarily. Although the causes of Restless Legs Syndrome are still only presumed, the majority of studies are focusing on a combination of iron and dopamine deficiency.

Here are some supplements to try:

Iron: If you have RLS, have your ferritin levels tested. About 20% of sufferers are deficient in ferritin (the form in which your body stores iron). Iron supplementation is generally recommended when ferritin levels measure less than 50ng/mL. For those with a deficiency, studies have shown that taking 200 to 300mg of oral ferrous sulfate up to three times per day can improve RLS symptoms if taken over several months. Before you start chowing down on iron tablets, talk to your doctor about this and have your iron levels monitored regularly if you are supplementing.

Folic Acid: For those who have family history of RLS, high doses of folic acid seem to alleviate symptoms. Dennis Neary Jr., ND suggests that, “Perhaps there is some deficiency that gets passed from gene to gene that causes malabsorption on the folic acid end.” Recommended doses are pretty high, so it best that you work with a health care provider.

Magnesium: Sometimes RLS seems to be caused by an electrolyte imbalance. Patients with eating disorders, or who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, often develop RLS. Both these conditions disrupt electrolyte balance. If this is the case, magnesium may help because it promotes muscle and nerve health. Taking 200-800mg of elemental magnesium per day at night, may help those twitches.

L-theanine: This amino acid found in green tea promotes wave activity associated with deep sleep and is a precursor to the relaxing neurotransmitter GABA. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum recommends it is a natural remedy for sleep, even though there is little evidence that it may help directly with RLS. He recommends 200mg of L-theanine 1 hour before bedtime to help you relax and sleep well.

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November 2010
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