Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Restless Legs Syndrome - Nutrition/Health Recommendations


Habits worth focusing on to help alleviate restlessness:

1. Say see ya to the caffeine, have a xanthine-free diet, by eliminating chocolate (cocoa), coffee, tea, and soft drinks containing caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to increase subjects’ susceptibility to develop symptoms of RLS at lower blood glucose levels.
2. Reduce alcohol consumption –it may make RLS symptoms worse.
3. Bye-Bye tobacco.
4. Reduce stress- make time for relaxation and rejuvenation, try meditation and keeping a positive attitude.
5. Eat healthy foods – many patients with RLS, particularly if they also have spontaneous leg cramps, appear to have hyperinsulinism causing functional hypoglycemia during glucose tolerance testing. In an open trial, of a group of 350 patients (J. Med Assoc 60(5):29-31, 1973), had a prompt remission or at least, a striking reduction in symptoms after being placed on a sugar-free, high protein diet along with frequent nibbling and one night snack. At every eating time eat high fiber carbohydrates with low fat protein sources and eat every 3 to 4 hours.
6. Manage your medications- some medications may worsen symptoms of RLS, discuss with your physician any medication alternatives that will not exacerbate RLS.
7. Supplements –may need to supplement with folic acid (5 to 30 mg daily), RLS may be an early neurologic manifestation of folate deficiency. Vitamin E supplementation (~300 IU daily), reports some RLS relief, may take up to 3 months for the full benefits. Iron supplementation (10 mg capsule) if iron-deficient, since iron deficiency is known to cause akathisia (restlessness) by reducing dopaminergic and opiate neurotransmission. Magnesium deficiency known to increase neuromuscular excitability can also cause the syndrome – supplement with ~350 mg/day magnesium.
8. Exercise Regularly – use those muscles, move daily by taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walk around the neighborhood, and walk/move during your breaks. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes per day of moving.

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