- What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
- Could You Treat Restless Leg Syndrome Through a Healthy Diet?
- Which Vitamins Help Restless Leg Syndrome?
Vitamins are compounds that our bodies require in order to conduct a number of bodily processes. We source our vitamins from the foods that we eat, in addition to supplements. Unfortunately, a number of people suffer from vitamin deficiencies, which can lead to a variety of health issues. Because of how important and powerful vitamins are, they can be used to treat a number of conditions and symptoms.
In this article I want to use my experience as a wellness enthusiast to investigate restless leg syndrome and the use of vitamins to help improve symptoms associated with this condition.
Restless leg syndrome is something that can be very disruptive to a person’s life. The symptoms that it presents can be very uncomfortable and inconvenient.
And, in order for this article to be the best source of information for you, I turned to an expert – Dr. Sony Sherpa, Holistic Physician at Nature's Rise to see what she had to say on some of the questions we'll be asking in this article about RLS and vitamins that could help.
What Is Restless Leg Syndrome?
Considered to be a neurological disorder, restless leg syndrome can result in some uncomfortable sensations and movements in the legs. Even upon rest, you have the urge to keep your legs moving, and this movement will help bring you relief. A large majority of people feel their symptoms are worse when they’re lying in bed trying to sleep, so restless leg syndrome can quickly lead to fatigue. That persistent fatigue can lead to issues like anxiety, depression and decreased quality of life.
Approximately 10 percent of all Americans suffer from restless leg syndrome according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It’s not common in children, and women are more likely to develop RLS than men. If you’ve ever been someone who has experienced unexpected twitches in your legs when you sleep, then you’re more likely to have restless leg syndrome.
Not every person with RLS will experience symptoms every single day, and symptoms can occur on one or both sides of the body. Stress, illness and other issues can exacerbate this condition. It’s a vicious cycle, as you may dread going to sleep because of your symptoms, but then you don’t get enough rest and the condition worsens.
Could You Treat Restless Leg Syndrome Through a Healthy Diet?
A healthy diet is incredibly important for preventing disease and helping the body thrive, but your diet can also have an impact on how severe your restless leg syndrome symptoms are. A healthy diet can reduce inflammation, eliminate cramping and promote proper nerve signals being sent through the body. If you’ve been diagnosed with RLS and want to fine tune your diet, you may be able to achieve drug-free relief.
Dr. Sony Sherpa agrees with me on all accounts and this is what she had to say when I asked her this question:
“A balanced, healthy diet plays an important role in maintaining our health. The food we consume has a direct effect on our body, so we should be mindful of what we take in. Diet is only a part of the equation when it comes to treating health conditions, such as restless leg syndrome. In some cases, a healthy diet is sufficient to treat the symptoms of RLS. In other cases, like when pain is present, medications may be necessary.”
You want to load up on all the fresh fruits and vegetables that you can. These are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Their high nutrient composition gets you exactly what you need. Lean protein is also important, and you should opt for meats that contain a good amount of iron in them. This includes beef, liver, chicken and turkey.
Nuts, seeds and beans are all plant-based foods that are super healthy, can reduce inflammation and keep your nerve function on track.
Which Foods Trigger Restless Leg Syndrome?
There are a number of foods that can trigger your restless leg syndrome symptoms by stimulating the nerves in your legs. You’ll want to stay away from anything that contains the stimulant caffeine. This includes tea, coffee, energy drinks, soda and even coffee.
Foods that can increase your risk of developing obesity should also be avoided. People who have a BMI that is within the obese range are more likely to develop RLS. Avoid things like fast food, fried food, processed items and anything that is high in refined sugar.
People who are sensitive to gluten or have Celiac disease can develop inflammation that can make their RLS worse. Avoid breads, baked goods and other foods that may contain gluten like soups or sauces.
Dr. Sherpa says these foods can trigger RLS,
“If there’s one food you should avoid if you have RLS, it’s chocolate, including chocolate-flavored foods like ice cream and cereals. Chocolate contains caffeine, which may trigger RLS or make symptoms worse. Why? Simply because caffeine is a stimulant. It stimulates your nervous system and has a direct effect on your muscles. RLS symptoms often strike when you’re at rest, particularly at bedtime, which makes it harder to fall asleep. Consuming caffein each night makes this situation worse.”
Which Vitamins Help Restless Leg Syndrome?
Before we go deep into each vitamin that could help restless leg syndrome, I asked Dr. Sherpa to summarize her opinion (a nice short a simple answer for all of us), and this is what she said,
“People who lack specific nutrients are at risk of having restless leg syndrome. One of the best nutrients to add to your diet to improve RLS symptoms is iron. However, you shouldn’t forget vitamin C. Vitamin C is beneficial as it promotes iron absorption, thus helping your body get as much iron from your diet. You can get vitamin C from green leafy vegetables, bell peppers, and citrus fruits.”
Let’s take a look at the specific vitamins that can help with restless leg syndrome. You can source these vitamins through the foods you eat, but you can also use high quality supplements if you feel like your diet is lacking.
A staggering 42 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin D. The most frequently affected are people who live in northern climates with cold weather a substantial part of the year, people with poor diets and pregnant women. Vitamin D can improve your restless leg syndrome by positively affecting our dopamine pathways. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which is used by the brain to send nerve signals and messages throughout the body (including the legs).
I’ll cover the importance of iron a little bit later, but vitamin C is important for RLS because it can help increase your iron absorption. High oxidative stress can also negatively affect RLS symptoms, and vitamin C can protect against that.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that has neuroprotective effects on the brain. It can help promote proper nerve signaling. Foods that are high in vitamin E include pumpkin, nuts and seeds.
Vitamin B12 can help heal damaged nerve tissue and prevent nerve cells from becoming injured in the future. B12 can also stabilize your nerve fibers and reduce the sensitivity of your nervous system so you don’t experience as many RLS flare ups. Get your B12 from fish, clams, fish, eggs and dairy products.
There are many cases where low iron in the blood can result in RLS symptoms. There have been some studies that show it can be beneficial. Try adding iron-rich foods into your diet, such as beans, leafy greens, lentils, nuts and red meat.
Magnesium is a key component of treating restless leg syndrome. It works very well to relax the nerves and muscles in the legs, allowing you to get a more restful sleep. It can also reduce stress and anxiety, which can complicate your RLS symptoms.
What Other Nutrients Help Restless Leg Syndrome?
Potassium is also important for restless leg syndrome symptoms. A deficiency in potassium is linked to leg cramps and pain, which can increase the severity of your symptoms. You can source potassium through foods like spinach, pomegranates and bananas.
Folate is a critical nutrient that allows for proper muscle contractions as well as nerve impulse conduction. You can source folate from leafy greens, liver, asparagus, beans, lentils and fortified cereals.
Recommended Vitamin Supplements for Restless Leg Syndrome
If you’re looking to supplement with specific vitamins and minerals that will improve your restless leg syndrome symptoms, here are some of the products that I highly recommend.
Ritual Essential Multivitamin
Ritual has a line of essential multivitamins that are designed to meet the nutritional requirements of different genders and ages. They have a multivitamin for women over 18, women over 50, a prenatal product and postnatal option. There are also multivitamins for men over 18 and men over 50. Products for teens and a multivitamin for children are also available, but like I mentioned, kids don’t normally experience RLS symptoms.
Primal Harvest Multivitamin
This multivitamin from Primal Harvest offers whole-body nutritional support by way of a comprehensive collection of vitamins and minerals that are needed by the body on a daily basis. Primal Harvest has put a great deal of research into this product, ensuring that you get all the health benefits of things like vitamins A, D, E, K, C, biotin, folate and B12. It’s a very affordable product that helps you fill in nutritional gaps that could be affecting your RLS. Primal Harvest Multivitamin can also increase your energy levels, boost your mood and improve your body’s immune response.
Autumn DNA provides you with a personalized approach to nutritional supplements. After completing a questionnaire and submitting your DNA, you’ll receive an easy-to-understand report that explains the nutrients you should be taking and why they benefit you. You can indicate your RLS on your questionnaire, and your product will be tailored to those issues. I highly recommend this product if you have the time and money to invest in it. This is one of the most comprehensive methods of supplementation you’ll ever come across.
OPositiv DISCO (for women)
There are 15 core vitamins and minerals included in OPositiv DISCO (for women), along with adaptogens that will improve your brain function and stress levels. You can use this product to fill in nutritional gaps, but it also works well to help you relax so that you sleep better at night. There are even antioxidants in its formulation, which can give you an added immune boost during cold and flu season. A lot of people experience a flare up of their symptoms when they are sick.
1st Phorm M-Factor (for men)
Men with restless leg syndrome may want to consider 1st Phorm M-Factor (for men). It contains a full panel of nutrients that can maximize your energy levels, eliminate your nutritional deficiencies and boost your immune system. This is a product that supports your biochemical processes, so you experience less RLS symptoms throughout the day and night. 1st Phorm M-Factor includes the formulation A2PC, which is a unique blend of essential and non-essential amino acids that can help increase protein synthesis in the body, stimulate muscle growth and speed up your recovery process.
The period of time that you spend sleeping each night is incredibly important. This is an opportunity for your body to rest and heal from any damage that it has incurred that day. If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body will start to break down and experience a whole host of symptoms. From lack of energy to poor mood, sleep really does matter. If you allow your restless leg syndrome to get the best of you, your sleep is going to suffer. Your symptoms will only worsen until you finally do something about it. If you’ve been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome and are being kept up by annoying sensations in your legs, I hope that you’ll consider the nutritional information that I’ve provided here in this article. As a wellness enthusiast, I know how important diet is along with a healthy lifestyle.