Will Vitamin D Help With My RLS Symptom Intensity?
It isn’t that vitamin D helps with restless legs syndrome (RLS), it is that if you are deficient in vitamin D treating that deficiency may help diminish the symptom intensity of your RLS. However, the research is not extensive or conclusive.
The main things to remember with any supplement are:
- Always check with your doctor first. And in this case, check with your doctor to see if you are deficient in vitamin D.
- Ask your doctor for the best method of increasing this vitamin in your diet for you. It may be diet or it may be supplementation depending on your specific health needs.
Vitamin D deficiency
A vitamin D deficiency is quite common because it is difficult to get from diet alone. Approximate 1 billion people in the world have low levels of vitamin D.1
It is common in northern latitudes, especially in the winter. Or it could be just not getting enough sunlight from not going outside enough or using too much sunscreen. Other risk factors are diet, absorption problems, smoking, obesity, skin type, age, and kidney and liver health.
The recommended amounts of vitamin D vary and it is hard to know how much sunlight a person gets. It is better to confirm levels of vitamin D first before figuring out if one needs to supplement with diet or vitamin supplementation.
Risk factors of vitamin D deficiency include:2
- Cardiovascular disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Muscle health
Restless legs syndrome’s link to vitamin D
It is said that RLS has to do with dopamine pathways. It also happens that vitamin D is involved with dopamine signaling; as it can increase the amount of dopamine. It is believed that vitamin D deficiency can be involved with RLS as a result.3
Specifically, in people with RLS who were deficient in vitamin D, a 2014 study found that treating with a vitamin D supplement reduced the symptoms of their RLS. However, a 2018 study did not find any improvement in symptoms. Longer studies may be needed and they may need to look a the amount of vitamin D being used in them.4,5
Therefore, there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin D will improve symptoms at all.
Given that many people can have a deficiency in vitamin D it is worth checking the levels of vitamin D to see if supplementation is worthwhile to try.
Why I take vitamin D for RLS
I am on a quest to reduce the need for my RLS medication. This is one of the things I am trying because it has already been recommended to me by my doctor and pain specialist to supplement with vitamin D.
In fact, given I live in a northern latitude, do not go out very often these days, and it is winter, it certainly seems like a good time to take that recommendation up.
The amount suggested for me is 5000 IU of vitamin D due to chronic pain. Now, this is quite above the recommended daily amount so certainly this is something you have to talk to a doctor about. This is for my specific chronic pain and health situation and obviously, that is different for everyone.
I started this regiment and since I read the article in reference to vitamin D and RLS, I decided to monitor the severity of my RLS. I was curious to see if the RLS would be reduced in severity at all and thus reducing my need for medication.
How I feel after supplementation
It has been a good 3 weeks now of supplementation at around 5000 IU. In my personal experience, it is in fact reducing my RLS intensity. Perhaps this does indicate I do have a vitamin D deficiency due to these long indoor hours from the pandemic and, of course, a lovely Canadian winter.
Either way, it may be a factor in my intensity of symptoms. If diet and supplementation help reduce the intensity and the need for medication every day, then it was worth the trial for me. And since it is already something I need to take I am not adding anything I wouldn’t otherwise take.
Is vitamin D part of your treatment plan? Have you found that it reduces your RLS symptoms? Tell us your story in the comments below.
How often do your RLS symptoms affect your mood?