Recently I saw an English article about the possible connection between vitamin D and restless legs. I myself have been taking a high dose of vitamin D for a while. However, I had not made the link with RLS before.
In this article I read that vitamin D influences the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine. That made me extra curious, of course.
Time to dive a little deeper into this topic.
What is vitamin D
Vitamin D is important for a lot of things. For starters, you need this vitamin for the growth and strength of your bones and teeth. It is also important for the functioning of muscles and for your immune system.
Your body makes its own vitamin D with the help of sunlight. It’s in food. Vitamin D is mainly found in oily fish, but also in meat and eggs. It is best absorbed with fat or oil and is fat soluble. Vitamin D also helps to better absorb calcium and phosphorus from food.
A deficiency of vitamin D in adults and the elderly can eventually cause bone loss/osteoporosis and muscle weakness. According to the Dutch nutrition center, the recommended daily amount is 10 micrograms. In the elderly over 70 this is 20 micrograms.
Other sources such as orthomolecular medicine use higher doses. I take a supplement of 25 micrograms every day during the winter months. The daily maximum in the Netherlands has been set at 100 micrograms per day.
Aside from the elderly, vegetarians and vegans are also at greater risk of becoming deficient, as vitamin D is found in animal foods. This target group also develops a vitamin deficiency more quickly with regard to other vitamins and minerals. This applies to vitamins and minerals that are more absorbable from meat, fish, dairy or eggs. I am thinking of magnesium, iron, vitamin B12 and folic acid.
There are two types of vitamin D: vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is often found in vitamin supplements. This has a slightly stronger effect than vitamin D2. However, both are used in supplements and in foods fortified with vitamin D.
Looking for information about a possible link between vitamin D and restless legs, I saw a Dutch article that stated that vitamin D helps to absorb magnesium better. Interesting again! I didn’t know this.
Currently, I take a number of supplements at once every morning, including vitamin D3 and magnesium. In the fall and winter I take more different supplements than in spring and summer. The reason for that is not only my restless legs, but also osteoarthritis. I mainly suffer from this form of rheumatism during the colder months.
At the beginning of this blog I mentioned the English article in which I read about the possible connection between vitamin D and the production of dopamine. The article takes a closer look at the fact that vitamin D is involved in the signaling function of dopamine.
Dopamine ensures, among other things, that muscles in the body can relax at the right times. For example, if you want to go to sleep or otherwise take rest.
Vitamin D regulates the development and function of various neurons in the brain. These are mainly neurons that deal with dopamine. Vitamin D deficiency is thought to play a role in diseases such as MS, Parkinson’s and RLS.
Research is already being done into the effect of taking extra vitamin D on restless legs. This research is still at an early stage. More time is needed to draw conclusions from this and to maybe start using vitamin D as a treatment for symptoms in RLS.