Iron for Restless Leg Syndrome
A number of studies have linked Restless Leg Syndrome to deficiencies of dopamine and iron. Injections of large doses of iron also sometimes relieve symptoms, even in people who don’t have an iron deficiency. The amount of iron in RLS brains is extremely low, and there are few receptors for transferrin, a protein that binds to iron and transports it into cells. Levels of several other proteins linked to iron storage and transport were also low in RLS patients.
The lack of iron in the cells may cause them to malfunction, leading to the symptoms of RLS. The results do not mean that people with RLS have an iron deficiency. Instead, the iron in their bodies is not being delivered to specific brain cells in an effective way. The findings help to confirm that restless legs syndrome is a neurological problem.
People shouldn’t start taking iron supplements without a physician’s advice. Most studies that have found a benefit from iron supplementation have used very large doses of iron, administered intravenously. Taking too much iron can lead to problems such as dizziness, headaches, low blood pressure, coma, and even death.
However, one theory holds that mild iron deficiency may cause restless leg syndrome by decreasing the amount of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This theory is supported by findings that conventional drugs, which increase dopamine activity (such as the Parkinson’s disease medication) can also alleviate RLS.
The bottom line: Iron supplements might be useful for people with RLS who are also deficient in iron, but this has not been proven. Still, if you’re deficient in iron, then it is worth correcting. Note that tests for anemia won’t necessarily pick up the low-grade iron deficiency that is linked to RLS. For that purpose, you’ll need tests that specifically evaluate iron levels, such as ferritin, serum iron, and total iron-binding capacity.
An independent lab testing iron supplementation showed there are products that DID NOT pass due to lead contamination or for not containing the claimed amount of iron. Click here to read the safe iron supplement list – and those to avoid.
Take iron supplements only with medical supervision for RLS and after your doctor has checked your blood-iron level.