Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common condition marked by uncomfortable lower-limb sensations that can keep you up at night. Research suggests that nutrients, such as vitamins C, D, and E, may relieve restless legs syndrome

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Though the exact cause of restless legs syndrome (RLS) isn’t known, it has been linked to certain vitamin and nutrient deficiencies, including low levels of iron and magnesium. For that reason, eating a healthy, well-rounded diet and taking certain supplements may help relieve RLS symptoms.

Here’s what the research suggests about which vitamins and minerals may lend you and your legs some relief.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin rich in antioxidants that helps support a healthy immune system.

Benefits

A 2016 study found that in people with RLS and low iron (under ≤75 micrograms per liter), taking iron plus vitamin C helped improve their symptoms.

The same study also found that vitamin C and E supplementation may help relieve symptoms in people with RLS who are also on hemodialysis.

Meanwhile, a 2018 study found that intravenous (IV) vitamin C in particular helped reduce itching, improve sleep quality, and reduce RLS symptoms in those on hemodialysis.

Side effects

Taking too much vitamin C may lead to issues like:

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body properly absorb calcium and phosphate, which help build healthy bones and muscles.

Benefits

According to a 2021 study, vitamin D levels tend to be significantly lower in those with RLS than those without the condition. More severe vitamin D deficiency is also associated with more severe RLS symptoms, worse sleep quality, and depression.

For that reason, vitamin D supplementation may help with RLS, but further research is still needed to understand its exact effectiveness. Instead, scientists recommend plenty of natural sunlight exposure coupled with vitamin D supplements to relieve symptoms.

Side effects

Excess vitamin D may cause:

Vitamin E is a nutrient that helps protect against oxidative stress and supports a healthy immune system. It also helps protect against issues like blood clotting.

Benefits

According to a 2016 study, both vitamin C and vitamin E, whether alone or in combination, are likely effective in treating RLS symptoms associated with end stage renal disease (ERSD) in particular.

Side effects

Taking too much vitamin E may lead to an increased risk of bleeding or prostate cancer.

Vitamin B6 is crucial to a healthy metabolism and the creation of hemoglobin in your blood.

Benefits

According to a 2023 study, taking vitamin B6 and magnesium supplements reduce RLS symptoms and can improve sleep quality.

Side effects

Excess vitamin B6 consumption may lead to:

Vitamin B12 supports a healthy nervous system and brain and supports your red blood cells.

Benefits

A 2022 study found a strong correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and the development of RLS. The lower serum vitamin B12 levels were for people with RLS, the more severe their RLS and depressive symptoms were.

Because of this, researchers believe that vitamin B12 supplementation may benefit people with RLS. But further research is still needed to determine the exact connection.

Side effects

Though vitamin B12 supplementation rarely leads to toxicity, it’s possible that it can happen when injected and may cause:

  • swelling or soreness at the injection site
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness
  • headaches

Magnesium helps regulate your mood, blood sugar, and sleep cycle, among other key brain and body mechanisms.

Benefits

Magnesium is often recommended to treat RLS symptoms due to anecdotal evidence that it relieves symptoms including leg cramping. But according to a 2019 review of several studies, the evidence remains inconclusive.

That said, the same 2023 study mentioned that taking magnesium supplements in combination with vitamin B6 relieved RLS symptom severity and improved sleep quality.

Side effects

Though magnesium supplementation doesn’t typically cause side effects, toxicity may cause:

Iron is a nutrient that contributes to your general energy levels, focus, gastrointestinal health, and a healthy immune system.

Benefits

Although the cause of RLS isn’t known, according to the National Institutes of Health, low iron levels in your brain may contribute to its onset (start). Low iron levels are also linked to poorer sleep quality and fatigue overall.

In a 2019 study, researchers concluded that iron therapy may improve restlessness and RLS symptom severity.

Side effects

Excess iron buildup in your body can lead to hemochromatosis, a condition that can cause:

  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • reduced sex drive
  • abdomen pain
  • joint pain
  • skin discoloration

While there isn’t a one tried-and-true cure for RLS yet, treatments may include:

  • avoiding potential triggers (i.e., medication interactions)
  • practicing healthy sleep hygiene
  • regular exercise
  • relaxation techniques (i.e., yoga, breathwork, meditation)
  • quitting smoking, if you do smoke
  • avoiding alcohol, if you do drink
  • taking sleep medication
  • dopamine antagonists

In general, it’s a good idea to speak with a doctor or healthcare professional about any condition that disrupts your day-to-day quality of life.

RLS symptoms that you may need to visit a professional for include:

While RLS symptoms aren’t that harmful by themselves, over time, lack of sleep can have a serious impact on your health.

Though there isn’t a cure for RLS yet, taking certain vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, E, B6, and B12, magnesium, and iron may give relief.

Eating a healthy diet as well as taking supplements may relieve symptoms, but it’s recommended to talk with a doctor before adding any new vitamins into your diet.