Occasional RLS and supplements

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I am a 49 year old woman who is very active and fit.  I run long distance regularly and lift weights 2-3 times a week.  I very occasionally suffer from bad RLS and night cramps, and I have learned to anticipate when an episode will occur.  (I can feel it coming on in the evening as I am moving about).  It almost always happens when I have been doing a lot of intense cardio workouts (usually involving the eliptical machine).  

Anyway, this is usually a sign to me that I am low on iron.  There was a time in my life about 10 years ago when I was very anemic and didn’t know it.  At that time I was suffering terrible RLS and  cramping in my legs, feet, toes and hands almost every night.  Once I got my iron levels up to a normal level, the problem went away.

So I had my iron checked recently and it is sort of low, but nothing like it was.  My ferritin is now 57 and I’d like to get it back up closer to 100.

I’ve been taking iron every day on an empty stomach.  I was taking 50 mg of the a blend (amino acid chelate), but I recently bought iron bisglycinate 25 mg, and I’m going to start taking that.

One thing that I’ve noticed for me, is that when an unexpected episode occurs, if I get up and take Taurine 500 mg right away, it will go away and I can get right back to sleep. (Maybe I should try the iron next time just to see if it works as well.)

My specific question is for Udon, because you seem to be really knowledgeable on this topic.  I have been taking my iron, Taurine, Methyl B-12, and acetyl-l-carnitine together when I have an empty stomach.  Then with food I take a B50 complex, alpha lipoic acid, and benfotiamine all together.  It just dawned on me when I read another of your posts that maybe I should be taking the iron alone, separately.  It just gets tough because I am not someone who has an empty stomach very often so I try to take everything when I do.  Also, I eat my biggest meal at night and don’t wait long before going to bed so my last chance for an empty stomach is before dinner or in the middle of the night. 

I saw that you recommended to someone else to alternate the iron every other day.  Maybe that is the answer for me if you think I should take it alone.  I could cycle it with my other supplements.  Can you give me your recommendation and thoughts?  How much and how often?  Do you know about the other supplements?  I just want to take my supplements the most effective way that I can.  Thanks in advance Udon and anyone else that wants to chime in!

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  • Posted

    My only suggestion would be to try not to eat close to bedtime. I've found that if I eat after 7:00 I am more likely to have restless legs at night. I usually don't go to bed till after 10:00. I used to eat a bowl of spinach before 7:00 and it helped a lot. 

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  • Posted

    Hi beanie, for a long and complicated reason it's best to take iron bisglycinate about an hour before bed if you have RLS or know that u get it every night. And yes empty stomach is practically a must. I too find that a big evening meal can trigger RLS. Such a bizarre condition. Good luck.

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    • Posted

      Udon, I have spent quite a bit of time researching this.  I think for me, because of my workouts (sometimes intense) I am going to just take the iron bisglycinate 25 mg first thing in the morning with 250mg vit c at least an hour before eating.  I have read that hepcidin levels are high after exercise, and that can block iron absorption.  So that makes it trickier for me.  I tend to exercise late in the day, and eat late (this has never made a difference in my RLS symptoms.)  (Again, I only get RLS ocassionally).

      Since I have been taking the extra iron daily, I haven't had any episodes.  Sometimes, I feel them coming on (usually after intense exercise) and then I take taurine in the evening on an empty stomach (500 to 1000mg) to prevent them from coming on. Taurine works like a charm, and that is what many RLS doctors recommend.  It also stops an episode dead in it's tracks for me, and puts me back to sleep when they do occur.

      I think in my case the intense exercise was depleting my iron stores and since I didn't have much stored to begin with, the daily supplementation is necessary and seems to be helping.

      Please feel free to comment.  I love hearing what you have to say.  I have read a lot of what you write.

       

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    • Posted

      We are the lucky ones.  Our RLS is under control with iron and/or taurine.  Taurine is pure magic for my sometimes erratic heartbeat.  Well for what it's worth my "body" iron stores are great, always have been.  We with RLS have "anemic" brains supposedly, not really bodies.  Our brains, if I understand the research articles correctly, can acquire iron from the bloodstream when it's unbound but it can't store any of that iron within the brain like the non-RLS world can.  At night that unbound iron in our blood drops (everyone, not just RLSers) and that might be part of the problem for us.  The rest of the world can make a withdrawal from their brain iron bank at night if need be and their dopamine receptors keep humming along whereas ours comes to a grinding halt.  When the dopamine receptors poop out there is much less dopamine being transmitted down our spines (aka central nervous system) to quiet our arms and legs.  We're probably talking about a few molecules here of something missing be it iron or dopamine.  So it kills me when I hear about people taking hundreds and hundreds of milligrams of lyrica or neurontin.  Long story short, that's why I take iron at night and only when I have RLS.  As you mentioned hepcidin will clamp down on the ingress of iron from the GI tract (or its release from our stores) when it senses too much iron or in the face of infection.  I call it the iron gatekeeper or the sleeping tiger.  I prefer not to awaken it because I rely so heavily on that iron bisglycinate when I have an attack.  And as you can well imagine my very healthy bodily stores of iron do nothing to stop those attacks.  Even people with iron overload diseases get RLS.  Iron, iron everywhere but not a drop for our brains...at night or during an attack.

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    • Posted

      Udon, can  you tell me what iron to try. I just started on a drug Miropex for RLS as I get it every night for many hours. I am not keen to take it, but it stops it cold. 
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    • Posted

      Yes, Mirapex does work great until it works your dopamine receptors to death.  I take 25mg of iron bisglycinate and it's brand name is Gentle Iron by Solgar.   Make sure with your doctor that you do not have too high of iron stores.  I order mine from Amazon.  Keep us posted on how it goes.

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    • Posted

      iron bisglycinate 25mg on an empty stomach before bed.  Get your doctor's permission.  If your RLS is really bad you may want to try two 25mg capsules.  Check all of the drugs you are taking other than for RLS that may be making RLS worse than it has to be such as statins, metformin, HRT, antidepressants, antihistamines, antacids, late night eating, sugar substitutes

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    • Posted

      No melatonin or 5htp before bed either.  If a drug has a short half life, such as benedryl, you can probably take during the day but never at night because it will make RLS worse. 
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    • Posted

      Thank you,weening off antidepressant,which made it much worse!! The Miropex works great but I have a thing about meds. When I am completely off Zoloft, will try iron, and come off Miropex. I am not a pill person
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