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Restless legs syndrome, which is also known by its acronym RLS, is sometimes responsive to nutritional supplementation. It's not a good idea just to start supplementing on a hunch. You actually need a blood test (sorry, hair analysis just won't do it) to tell you whether your iron, magnesium, and calcium levels are actually low. Then, if you have low iron, magnesium, or calcium, it makes sense to supplement, but there is a little more to the issue than just that.

RLS is a disease that can get worse as you get older, unless you happen to get pregnant. It's a lot more common in women than in men. The more children a woman has had, the more likely she is to develop the disease. Women who have never had children are no more likely to develop RLS than men. People of European descent are more likely to develop the condition than other groups, and (because of alterations in the way the kidneys handle minerals), RLS is more common in people who are on dialysis for kidney disease.

The tendency toward RLS is genetic, but there isn't just one gene involved. There are six. 

You have to get two copies of one or more of the six genes that contribute to RLS to get the condition (that actually isn't enshrined in science as a fact quite yet). That's why some people have milder cases and some people, have worse, depending on how many of the twelve potential copies of genes they have.

What goes wrong in the brain in this condition is the way it uses the "pleasure chemical" dopamine. The brain just can't respond to dopamine. It's like the receptors for dopamine are "locked." It takes an unusually large amount of dopamine to activate the cells in the brain that respond to it. This is roughly why the more stress you are under, the less pleasure there is in your life, the more problems you will have with RLS. The more you can eliminate stress from your life (and, of course, sometimes you can't), the happier you are, the less you will have to deal with RLS.

RLS is also related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. 

You probably know about the link between serotonin and depression. The general rule is more serotonin, less depression. In RLS, however, the problem is that the body is too sensitive to serotonin. Taking selective serotonin receptor inhibitors (drugs like Paxil and Prozac) can make RLS work.

There are some relationships between what you eat and your dopamine and serotonin levels. Beans (especially a relatively hard to get bean from India called velvet bean, Mucuna pruriens) can raise your dopamine levels. They can help. Tomatoes, bananas, and walnuts contain actual serotonin, made by the plant. They can hurt. It can also help to avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).

As for supplements, if you need it, iron is more likely to be helpful than either calcium or magnesium. It's more specific to RLS. Calciu, and magnesium may make it easier to sleep, but they don't specifically address the condition. However, it's important not to take iron unless you have low iron levels. It won't help unless you are iron-deficient, and there is a significant part of the population, maybe one to two percent, who have iron overload diseases that can be made worse by taking supplemental iron, with consequences that are worse than RLS.

The herbal remedy for RLS that actually works is a formula made in Japan called yokukan-san (in Chinese, yi gan san). 

Be careful with this formula if you take diuretics, because the combination has been known to cause low potassium levels.

What else can you do? 

Some people find taking either a hot or cold bath before bedtime relaxes the legs. Look into getting a device called Relaxis. A vibrating pad, Relaxis provides counterstimulation that sends a message to the brain that the legs are moving, even when they aren't. The results of the device aren't a 100 percent cure, but many people get significant relief when they use it.

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