Magnesium For Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
One of my favourite nutrients to supplement is Magnesium. I really notice a difference when I have stopped taking it for a while and many clients report the same. The most common reason to take Magnesium I find is for leg cramps or restless leg issues and stress but actually Magnesium has so many health benefits and plays a huge role within the body.
What is Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)?
According to this Mayo Clinic study, restless legs syndrome (RLS) is “characterized by an urge to move the legs, usually associated with limb discomfort. The symptoms occur at rest, are relieved by movement, and are worst in the evening and at night. Restless legs syndrome is usually associated with involuntary contractions of the legs during sleep, known as periodic limb movements. The severity of symptoms ranges from annoying and infrequent to distressing and daily. For many patients, RLS is a cause of disabling sleep onset or maintenance insomnia.”
How Magnesium May Help Those With Restless Legs Syndrome
This study published by PubMed saw a beneficial link in taking magnesium and improved sleep efficiency in those experiencing periodic leg movements-related insomnia and restless legs syndrome.
So….what is Magnesium and why should you consider taking it?
What is magnesium and what does it do?
This important macro nutrient is an essential mineral and is involved in over 300 biochemical functions in the body with critical enzyme reactions involved in energy production and is an essential nutrient for the cells of the heart so important for cardiovascular health. However Magnesium is also essential for neurotransmitter function, muscle contraction and muscle relaxation, bone formation and cell formation.
As a result of its importance magnesium deficiency can present with any of the following symptoms
- Cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes (cardio-metabolic issues), high cholesterol , high blood pressure
- Pain, headaches, migraines, fibromyalgia
- Pre-menstrual-symptoms, dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
- Stress, hormonal imbalance, fatigue, chronic fatigue, insomnia or sleep issues
- Cramps, restless leg syndrome, wry neck
- Osteoporosis, dental cavities
Where can I find Magnesium in food?
Magnesium is able to be stored well within the body with one of the highest concentrations found in bones then muscles as well as soft tissue and body fluids. When magnesium is needed it can be utilised from any of these storage points. To replenish our stores good food sources of magnesium include:
Almonds, buckwheat, cocoa, wheat bran, cashews, brazil nuts, pecan, kelp, irish moss, brown rice, avocado, bananas, sunflower seeds, potatoes with skin, kumara, blue cod, shellfish, green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and silver beet.
Our Top Magnesium Sellers
Do I need to supplement Magnesium?
When we consume foods with magnesium about 50% is able to be absorbed which is great. So why is it that we could be deficient?
To begin with, even though we might be consuming foods that are technically “good sources” of magnesium these foods may be been grown in soil with low levels of magnesium. In New Zealand our soil is regarded as quite varied and “rich” but only a small percentage is actually fertile enough for the ability to grow food without too much interference. The intense agricultural practices in recent times has also added to the depletion of natural magnesium in soil. So although we may think we are consuming the right foods, we may still not be getting enough magnesium for our bodies. Another inhibiting factor is that magnesium absorption requires an acidic stomach environment for best absorption. So people with digestive issues or who have been on stomach acid reducing medication for long periods of time may present with some of the above symptoms. High coffee consumption and alcohol consumption will also interfere with magnesium absorption.
Foods that are highly processed tend to be low in magnesium due to the milling process, but other more “natural factors” such as Oxalic acid found in green leafy vegetables and Phytic acid found in grains also interfere with magnesium absorption within the intestine. So as you can see it is quite a mission to get magnesium into us in the first place.
I cannot stress enough though the importance of eating whole and natural foods – that is foods in their natural state with minimal processing – to get the foundation of good nutrients including magnesium into your body. This is due to the fact that we get not only our important vitamins and minerals and macro nutrients but the multitude of flavonoids that we now know work with these nutrients for optimal health.
And then for those still experiencing any of the above symptoms you may want to consider a Magnesium supplement. I often get asked (or told) why bother with supplements. I feel that because of the above points and if you have any of the above symptoms then your body is crying out for a “therapeutic” need for vitamins and/or minerals. So supplementation may well be beneficial!
Which supplement is best/will I get loose bowel motions?
Ahh….often why some people don’t like to take a magnesium supplement is because they have tried it and it has caused them unwanted side effects such as urgent bowel motions (of the ikky loose kind). Remember not all sources of Magnesium are the same and not everyone will react in the same way – remember each of us is unique with our biochemical reactions!
Some magnesium supplements may cause loose bowel motions. The reason for this is that magnesium that has not been absorbed will attract water – and within the colon – this will cause loose bowel motions for some people. Often reducing the dose of your supplement can be enough to stop this unwanted side effect or changing the type of magnesium mineral you are taking. The types of magnesium that may cause this include orotate, chelate, hydroxide and sulfate.
For this reason we suggest the KNH Magnesium Complex as a gentle slow release formula that can be taken once or twice a day due to the above potential symptoms. This product is a firm favourite for those who want to increase their magnesium intake but that do not have any obvious therapeutic need for it.
The KNH Magnesium Citrate is also very popular and we suggest this to those people who need it for night time relaxation. The recommended dose is 1 x daily and this is perfect to take just before bed.
Another favourite is the Ethical Nutrients Mega Mag powder which comes in Raspberry and Citrus flavour. This is our strongest formula using magnesium diglycinate that is highly absorbable with little to no issues around loose bowel motions. This one is also suitable for the whole family. Just ask a friendly staff member and we can let you know the recommended scoop dose for your child. This is what I would recommend for those who need it for “therapeutic” needs such as cardio metabolic issues, stress, ADHD or chronic pain/fibromyalgia.
Also new in for us and perfect for the little ones is the Good Health Magnesium for Kids. This chewable supplement is perfect kids between the ages of 4 and 8 who are very active or perhaps have some stress or anxiety symptoms. It’s also a perfect one for bone health with added D3 and Zinc.
Top 5 reasons why you should take a Magnesium supplement.
- Essential for energy production and cardiovascular health – essential for those already with cardio issues or metabolic issues such as diabetes
- Helps with neurotransmitter function so helps with but also needed for good sleep support
- Essential for muscle relaxation – cramps, tight muscles after a workout, restless leg syndrome or wry neck (stiff neck condition)
- May be very helpful with tension headaches, migraines, chronic pain such as Fibromyalgia
- Needed for bone health – helps with the activity of bone cells. But magnesium is one nutrient needed in the right balance as well as Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Boron and Manganese
If you have any other questions around Magnesium and what it may do for you, just drop us a line. We are more than happy to help you!