Restless Leg Syndrome in Pregnancy Treatments
Let’s be honest, while there are many enjoyable parts of pregnancy, there are also quite a few unpleasant aspects that come along with the journey, especially Restless Leg Syndrome.
One such nuisance is restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as
There are some simple home remedies that can help manage restless leg syndrome symptoms, such as getting up and walking around, stretching your legs, adjusting your sleep position and routine, getting regular exercise during the day, leg massages (looking at you, spouse), wearing compression stockings while sleeping, elevating the legs, and applying hot or cold packs. Different things may work better for different people.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy and genetics may be to blame for restless leg syndrome, but research suggests that nutrition can also play a role in RLS risk, prevention, and management.
Below are three nutrients thought to have the biggest impact on
Restless Leg Treatments
Iron (RDA = 27 mg/day3)
Dark leafy greens (e.g. kale, broccoli, swiss chard)
Dried apricots and raisins
Beans and lentils
Note: Eat these with foods rich in Vitamin C (like citrus fruits) to optimize iron absorption.
Folate (RDA = 600 mcg/day4)
Spinach and other leafy greens
Fortified cereals and whole grains
Beans and lentils
Magnesium (RDA = 350-400 mg/day5)
Almonds, cashews, and peanuts
Edamame, tofu, and soy milk
Note: Low potassium is often blamed for restless legs (leading to the suggestion to eat more bananas) because of the role it plays in muscle contraction, but low potassium levels can be secondary to magnesium deficiency.6
High caffeine intake can make restless legs worse, so avoiding coffee, tea, and chocolate may also help to alleviate symptoms.
Fortunately, RLS subsides shortly after childbirth for most women, so hang in there! You may continue to lose sleep once you’re no longer pregnant, but you now have a newborn to thank for that.
- Hensley, JG. Leg cramps and restless legs during pregnancy. Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. 2009;54(3): 211-218.
- Restless legs syndrome. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/restless-legs-syndrome
- Iron. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/ Updated March 2, 2018.
- Folate. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/ Updated March 2, 2018.
- Magnesium. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/ Updated March 2, 2018.
- Huang, CL & Kuo, E. Mechanism of hypokalemia in magnesium deficiency. Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 2007;18: 2649-2652.
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