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Iron Supplements vs. Restless Legs

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Q. Would taking an iron supplement ease RLS (restless legs syndrome) symptoms? I was part of a blinded study at Johns-Hopkins where I either had an iron infusion or a placebo.

I was "cured" for over a year, but the study isn't finished and they won't give me any information. I would like to know how much iron to take in pill form. Can you help me?

A. A placebo-controlled study found that pills with 325 mg of ferrous sulfate twice a day for three months reduced the symptoms of restless legs syndrome (Sleep Medicine, online February 18, 2009). Another study conducted at Johns Hopkins found no benefit for RLS from intravenous iron (Sleep Medicine, Feb. 2009).

We suggest you talk with your doctor before taking such a large dose of iron, since too much could be toxic. You can find other approaches for RLS at www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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6 Comments

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Excellent advice! If you can't wait for the study to end and even when you do know the results, you should consult with your physician before taking a large dose of ferrous sulfate, so you understand clearly the long term side effects.

I strongly recommend that you read the book "Iron and Your Heart" by Randall Lauffer. Too much iron is a very dangerous thing, which is fully explained in the book.

Sincerely, Russ

My husband had suffered for years with restless leg syndrome, so we did a little online research and found that it can be caused by a lack of folic acid and iron, so I suggested he start taking pre-natal vitamins since they are reasonably cheap and loaded with both. Since the very first night he took them he has not suffered with the problem and I have told friends at work to try this and it seems to work for them as well. Cheap solution to a very irritating problem. (P. S. He had tried the soap trick, but it didn't work for him, so glad we found something that did!)

I have a real problem with restless leg syndrome..... tonic really helps the problem.... to avoid the calories that regular tonic has, I drink diet tonic, which also has quinine. I DO have tinitis, which was probably causes by the tonic, but I'd rather have that problem, than deal with being up all night with restless let, so for me it's a trade-off. I have not found any other solution.......am tempted to try folic acid and iron....anyone know how much is safe to take?

I have suffered from RLS since I was apx. 15 years old. I am now 26. when I was younger they (the Dr.s) have me taking Paxil and Ibuprofen. At 18 I stopped taking them bc I was became pregnant. I have not been back on such meds. I've had issues sitting in cars for ANY length of time without moving a lot. I never took anything to manage the pain. I have always had low iron so I've always been on and off iron pills.

Depending on the pain and twitching 1-2 OTC iron pills a day. Until it got better then stopped. I don’t want my body to get use to the pills or they will stop working. This is why I've always started and stopped. Recently however it has been getting really bad. I believe it's do to a bad tooth so I can't eat red meats and skins of potatoes like I did all time to help keep my iron up.

Yesterday I started a 2- pill in the morning a day. Along with that joint stuff (2 a day also). I was taking 1 iron and 2 joint. But the twitching just kept getting worse. I am hoping this will help. And I also hope this may help someone else as well. I am also going to look into adding a prenatal vitamin as well. Since each time I was pregnant (3) the pain was less. And easier to mange. Good luck.

Hi Rebekka,
Have you had your blood checked for iron and ferretin levels? Those tests will give you info on whether your iron status is likely causing your restless legs.

Sincerely, Russ

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