A new study published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment has found that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased prevalence of restless legs syndrome.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is characterized by the involuntary movement of the legs accompanied by discomfort in the legs. RLS is considered to be a sleep disorder as it occurs during rest periods in the evening and late at night, and symptoms are usually improved by movement. Prevalence of RLS among adults ranges from 4% to 29% in industrialized countries.
The development of RLS is thought to be related to neurological dysfunction. It has been suggested that Vitamin D helps regulate nervous system function and therefore may play a role in RLS.
Despite this purposed connection, very few studies have looked at whether vitamin D plays any role in RLS. Some of these studies been reviewed in one of our previous blog posts.
Recently, researchers recruited 155 patients for a study to determine the relationship that vitamin D may play in RLS.
They measured vitamin D levels and grouped patients on whether they were vitamin D deficient (defined as having a vitamin D level below 20 ng/ml) or not deficient (defined as having levels equal to or greater than 20 ng/ml). In total, 36 patients were defined as deficient, while the remaining 119 patients were defined as not deficient.
The researchers found that 50.4% of the vitamin D deficient patients had RLS compared to 6.7% of patients with normal levels. According to their analysis, vitamin D deficiency was significantly related to prevalence of RLS.
The researchers also found that those with vitamin D deficiency reported having more symptoms as defined by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Rating Scale (IRLS), a questionnaire used to define severity of RLS.
“In conclusion, our findings may support an association between vitamin D deficiency and RLS. Vitamin D deficiency should be considered in RLS patients, particularly those who have been diagnose with idiopathic RLS,” the researchers stated.