Studies suggest that vitamins C, D, and E may help people experiencing restless legs syndrome (RLS).
People with RLS experience unpleasant sensations in the legs with the irresistible urge to move them.
This article explores how different vitamins may benefit people with RLS. It also covers recommended dietary allowances (RDAs), side effects, other treatment options, and frequently asked questions.
According to the
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) notes that about 1 in 5 pregnant people have symptoms of RLS during the last trimester. At present, scientists do not understand the exact cause of this.
A 2016 study evaluating the efficacy of medical therapies for RLS suggests that vitamins C and E, taken alone or as a combination therapy, are likely effective in the treatment of RLS associated with end stage renal disease.
A study from 2015 also suggests that vitamin D supplements may improve symptoms of RLS. The authors note that vitamin D deficiency appears to link with RLS.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a significant role in the growth and repair of body cells.
In a 2018 study, researchers administered vitamin C via an IV directly into the bloodstream of people recieving dialysis. Results suggest it may have effectively decreased dialysis complications such as itching and RLS, as well as improving sleep quality.
According to the
Taking high doses of vitamin C may lead to:
It is best for people with certain medical conditions to speak with a doctor before taking vitamin C for RLS.
Vitamin C can interact or interfere with other medications, including statin, a cholesterol-lowering medication. It may also interact with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Vitamin D is fat-soluble. It regulates calcium and phosphate absorption. Phosphate is a particle that contains the mineral phosphorus and works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth.
Vitamin D may help with:
- maintaining healthy bones and muscles
- regulating blood sugar levels
- boosting immunity
A 2021 study suggest that vitamin D levels are generally lower in people with RLS. Researchers associated these lower levels with more severe RLS symptoms and depression, as well as lower sleep quality.
The RDAof vitamin D for adults aged 19–70 is 15 micrograms (mcg). The upper limit for intake is 100 mcg.
Taking high doses of vitamin D can cause:
- nausea and vomiting
- muscle weakness
- loss of appetite
- excessive urination
- dehydration and thirst
- kidney stones
Vitamin D can interact with some medications, such as:
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant present in many foods. The body
Vitamin E helps with:
- protecting and slowing cell damage
- boosting the immune system
- preventing blood clots
- dilating blood vessels
The RDA of vitamin E is 15 mg daily for people aged 14 years and older. For breastfeeding people, the RDA increases to 19 mg.
Taking more vitamin E supplements than a doctor recommends can have some adverse effects, including an increased risk of bleeding and prostate cancer.
It is best for people taking the following medications to speak with a doctor before considering taking vitamin E for RLS:
- anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications
- antioxidants such simvastatin and niacin
- chemotherapy or radiation therapy
Certain medications and lifestyle modifications may improve symptoms of RLS. These include:
A doctor or medical professional may prescribe:
- dopamine agonists, which increase dopamine levels
- mild pain relievers, such as gabapentin and pregabalin
- sleep medications or hypnotics such as zopiclone and zolpidem
The following home remedies and lifestyle modifications may ease the severity of RLS symptoms:
- avoiding stimulants such as caffeinated drinks and alcohol in the evening
- quitting smoking, if applicable
- following a regular bedtime schedule
- having a leg massage
- applying a hot or warm compress to the leg
- taking a hot bath in the evening
- relaxation exercises such as yoga and tai chi
Below are answers to some common questions about RLS.
What deficiency causes RLS?
The NHS notes that iron deficiency may cause RLS.
However, in many cases, the exact cause remains unknown.
Are there any vitamins that may worsen symptoms?
There is no evidence that any vitamin worsens RLS symptoms.
Are there any foods to eat or avoid if a person has RLS?
According to a 2018 study, people with obesity may have a high risk of developing RLS. To reduce the chances of RLS, a person can avoid foods with added sugars, such as:
- ice cream
- sweetened beverages
What age group does RLS affect?
According to a
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a chronic movement disorder that leads to an irresistible urge to move the leg.
While there is insufficient evidence to definitively determine which vitamin supplements may help with symptoms of RLS, some research suggests vitamins C, D, and E may be beneficial.
It is best for a person to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional before taking vitamins for RLS, also disclosing any medications they currently take to avoid possible adverse effects.