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Supplements for Restless Legs Syndrome
Question: Do any supplements help for restless legs syndrome?
Answer: Although no large studies have been conducted, smaller studies suggest a possible role of supplements in reducing the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS), a condition that causes uncomfortable "creepy-crawly" sensations, agitation, and the need to move the legs when trying to fall asleep. Women are twice as likely to suffer from restless legs syndrome than men, and it occurs more often with increasing age (Wang, Sleep Med 2009).
People with deficient or low blood levels of iron are also more likely to experience RLS. As discussed in more detail in the "What It Does" section of the Iron Supplements Review, a study found that taking a combination of high-dose iron and vitamin C (which helps to increase iron absorption) can decrease symptom severity in people whose blood levels of iron are low. However, it's important to consult your physician before supplementing with iron for RLS.
As discussed in the "What It Does" section of the Magnesium Supplements Review, a preliminary study suggested that taking magnesium in the evening could be helpful for RLS; however, there have not been large, well-controlled studies investigating this treatment.
Similarly, as discussed in the "What It Does" section of the Potassium Supplements Review, one preliminary study suggested that potassium may help reduce the severity of RLS symptoms, but no well-controlled studies have been conducted to prove this.
As discussed in our Encyclopedia article about Restless Legs Syndrome, there is very preliminary evidence that folate and vitamin E might be helpful.
Be aware that melatonin supplements may increase leg movements in people with restless legs syndrome RLS. Caffeine, alcohol, SSRI antidepressants, antihistamines, and most antipsychotic and antinausea medications can potentially increase RLS symptoms (Cotter, Ther Clin Risk Manag 2006).