Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS, is a highly prolific neurological condition affecting up to 10 percent of the United States. This condition commonly affects women, particularly pregnant women, more than men by a ratio of about 2:1. That being said, RLS does not only impact adults. Approximately 1 million children experience Childhood RLS with about one third of that group having moderate to severe symptoms. Clearly RLS has a significant presence in the world and is deserving of some attention. The pathology of restless leg syndrome is unknown, but what we do know is that it is closely related to one’s dopamine levels. This hormonal transmitter acts as a messenger in the brain and assists in regulating our behavior, mood, and most notably, sleep and muscle movement.
Some of the most common symptoms of RLS include throbbing and pained legs or arms, intense urge to move, itching, crawling, and other abnormal sensations in the extremities. These sensations most commonly occur in the evening and become more prevalent and severe as the night goes on; this a defining characteristic of RLS. Symptoms are commonly agitated when one attempts to relax by sitting down or sleeping.
One in four people who have RLS experience irregular and disrupted sleep. This may partially be due to Periodic Limb Movements or PLMS, which is associated with RLS at a rate of almost 80 percent. This companion condition consists of muscle spasms, kicking, jerking, and shaking of extremities throughout the night. Unfortunately, many do not realize they expend so much energy at night, leaving them to wake up restless and fatigued.
Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, can all trigger RLS. However, there is another plausible contributor, that if resolved could alleviate a great deal of RLS.
Magnesium and RLS
A number of deficiencies can affect our muscles and cause weakness and aching. However, a prominent player in RLS specifically is magnesium. If you have headaches, muscle stiffness, and have a difficult time going to sleep you may have a magnesium deficiency, which can lead to this larger condition. Thankfully, by doing a blood test, it is relatively easy to spot an imbalance in our levels.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a critical role in the body. Without magnesium, over 300 of our enzymes would not be able to manufacture necessary biochemical. As a moderator of cellular metabolism, magnesium facilitates energy production and ensures regular nerve and muscle functionality. This is accomplished through regulation and absorption of calcium.
For this reason, Caralyn Dean, MD, medical director for Nutritional Magnesium Association states “the best treatment [for RLS] is with any form of magnesium because magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves.” She goes on to explain that calcium is the prime causation of muscle contraction in skeletal fibers, which magnesium regulates. In a cell if there is an overabundance of calcium and too little magnesium the result is sustained muscle contractions leading to twitches, spasms and convulsions. Magnesium acts as a gatekeeper, allowing the correct amount of calcium into nerve cells. By not allowing our muscles and brain to constantly fire impulses, this mineral protects against unnecessary burning of energy which ultimately leads to cellular death.
Unfortunately, our bodies are unable to make magnesium. Instead we acquire it through diet and supplementation. It is uncommon to have dire magnesium deficiency, but if it does happen it is likely due to low consumption of magnesium rich foods such as almonds, lima beans, old-fashioned oats, walnuts, and whole wheat. Alternatively, over-consumption of coffee or caffeine, diuretics, and alcohol can have a detrimental effect on magnesium levels. An unbalanced diet is not the only plausible cause of a deficiency. Conditions such as gastrointestinal disease, diabetes, pancreatitis, kidney diseases, and hypothyroidism can also lead to imbalances.
Do Magnesium Supplements Help?
Frequently, magnesium deficiency is found to be the underlying issue of RLS in patients. Therefore, by utilizing an easily acquired supplement, such as those provided by HoltraCeuticals, one may be able to resolve and/or positively impact their condition with relatively little investment. A study regarding treatment of RLS published in the journal Sleep, exhibited that through taking magnesium supplements orally every evening for 4-6 weeks, patients experienced significantly decreased RLS symptoms and overall increased wellness. In addition to relieving symptoms and some causation of restless leg syndrome, magnesium has other beneficial applications.
Having a magnesium deficiency can be deceptive as many of the symptoms can seem common or unrelated. However, it may be possible to relieve recurring symptoms by utilizing a magnesium supplement. Symptoms such as:
- Muscle stiffness or soreness
- Insomnia or trouble falling and staying asleep
- Hypertension and high blood pressure
- Low energy
Magnesium supplements are easy to acquire. For example, HoltraCeuticals now provides Magnesium Citrate and Magnesium Glycinate. Both assist in conversion of carbohydrates, protein, and fats into usable energy. They also help regulate potassium in addition to, as previously mentioned, calcium metabolism, which greatly impacts muscle contraction and relaxation. It is recognized as a safe option to utilize when experiencing the above symptoms.
What Are the Differences?
If you’re unfamiliar with how your body reacts to magnesium supplements, or if you experience digestive constipation, it would be best to begin with Magnesium Citrate until reaching your tolerance level. At that point you should transfer to Magnesium Glycinate, which has a greater absorption rate (near 40 percent) and has no gastrointestinal side effects. Without having a blood test, it is not possible to a get a truly accurate recommended dosage.
If you have kidney or renal conditions, consult a physician before taking magnesium supplements. Unnecessarily high dosage of magnesium can lead to loss of appetite, nausea, muscle weakness, abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, extremely low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. However, The National Academy of Sciences has set the upper range for this dietary supplement at 350mg a day for individuals over 9 years of age. Meaning that even without a physician’s recommendation you can confidently use this suggested dosage to alleviate the symptoms of magnesium deficiency listed above. If symptoms are not reduced, speak with your physician, a higher dosage may be required.