Healthy Q & A: Restless Legs

Q: My mother has been diagnosed with restless leg syndrome, and she has a terrible time sleeping through the night.  Is there anything you would recommend to help her?

A: Your mother certainly isn’t alone.  It is estimated that as much as 10% of the US population has restless leg syndrome (RLS).   RLS in a neurological condition that causes an itching/pulling sensation in the legs and an overwhelming urge to move them.  Symptoms get worse while resting, leading to many a sleepless night.  

Though the cause of restless leg syndrome is unknown, some experts feel there is a nutritional link.  Folic acid and magnesium are especially important for people with restless leg syndrome.  Also, supplementing with antioxidants is important to address the free radical damage that is thought to accelerate RLS.

Magnesium, when taken daily, can help with muscle spasms and jerking.   If the body doesn’t 
have enough magnesium, it’s difficult for the muscles to relax.  It’s also been found that many 
people who suffer from RLS are deficient in folate (a B vitamin that regulates homocyctene), so adding some extra folate could be beneficial.

Also, since restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition, adding a high quality DHA 
supplement would be a good idea.  DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, is found in high concentrations in the synapses of the brain.  Taking supplemental DHA can help with the smooth transition of messages between neurons in the brain, which can improve the symptoms of restless leg syndrome.

Since there is no known cure for restless leg syndrome, natural supplements like magnesium, DHA, as well as relaxing herbs like valerian can be very useful to help people with RLS to get a good night’s sleep.