MAGNESIUM & RESTLESS LEGS
I’ve just made another batch of magnesium body butter, which I apply to my feet and legs most nights when I go to bed. I also made a batch for a friend’s colleague who suffers from restless legs syndrome (RLS). RLS is a disorder that causes a strong urge to move one’s legs and occasionally the arms may also be affected. Generally, it’s when you’re at rest that you feel these strong urges to move your legs and therefore it can be hard to fall asleep.
Magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves and it’s used in over 350 reactions in your body as every single cell in the human body demands adequate magnesium to function. One example is that magnesium regulates calcium absorption, which is important because calcium causes contraction in skeletal muscle fibers. When too much calcium is present, the ratios get out of balance, and too much calcium gets inside our cells. In addition, when too little magnesium is present, this allows even more calcium to get inside our cells and when there is too much calcium and insufficient magnesium inside a cell, you can get sustained muscle contractions.
You can read about why I recommend using topical magnesium here
I’ve suffered from RLS on and off for over ten years. I’ve noticed that it’s worse during some periods and other times I don’t feel it at all. When is was at it’s worst I would toss and turn for hours trying to fall asleep and I would also feel it in my arms. I started suffering from RLS a few years before I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition where my immune system targets my own liver.
When I changed my diet following ancestral principels by eating organic whole foods and avoiding sugar, processed food, gluten and dairy my RLS became less intense and more infrequent. Refined grains, food and sugar as well as caffeine is major magnesium eliminators as they cause us to excrete magnesium in our urine. In addition I’ve removed sources of harmful chemicals in my cleaning cabinet and personal care products and I also focus on reducing stress with meditation and mindfulness.
A little over a year ago I started to drink bone broth regularly bringing a thermos with me to work and drinking it instead of tea before lunch. Shortly after I didn’t experience any RLS even through the certain times where I previously would experience RLS. Bone broth is cheap and easy to make and it has many health benefits. I didn’t experience any RLS until I got out of the routine when we moved. I’m now consume bone broth regularly again and the RLS symptoms have gone once more 🙂
Lastly, I’ve noticed a pattern that I think is stress related. During the hot summer nights in Perth I would experience RLS almost every night except last summer as I was consuming bone broth regularly. The hot sleeping condition was a stressor on my body and I would toss and turn for hours. Also, I noticed that I would experience RLS when sleeping on my own. The first couple of years sleeping next to my partner, I experienced RLS frequently but sleeping on my own, I didn’t experience RLS. Of course moving around the globe, not knowing anybody except my partner and being in a different culture was someway stressful and challenging for our relationship. I also think that it’s common that one sleeps better and more undisturbed sleeping on your own. However, it’s still a puzzle exactly why but when I experience RLS symptoms look deeper into my life and how I’m feeling to discover “hidden” stressors that need my attention.
RLS is still not fully understood even though this condition has been an active research topic for years but if you want to know more about RLS, Chris Kresser review four factors that can contribute to RLS. One of the factors that he lists is systemic inflammation & immune dysregulation. For me this fit very well me as I suffer from an autoimmune disease and autoimmune diseases fall under the category of Auto-Inflammatory Diseases. To adopt a “low-inflammatory” diet and lifestyle Chris Kresser suggests eating a nutrient-rich and low-toxin diet based on whole foods; getting enough sleep every night; prioritise stress management; and incorporate regular movement into your day This certainly helped me and I would also recommend that you try to consume bone broth regularly for a couple of months as bone broth contains several essential minerals, it reduces inflammation and helps to heal your gut.
Vitamin D Deficiency is another contributing factor also listed by Chris Kresser. Get your vitamin D levels tested by 25(OH)D in blood and the Vitamin D Council suggests a higher range of 40 to 80 ng/mL, with a target of 50 ng/mL. I take vitamin D3 drops that also include vitamin K during the winter months and I make an effort to get regular sun exposure as sunlight is the optimal source of vitamin D plus natural sunlight has numerous benefits above and beyond improving vitamin D status. Once more magnesium body butter or topical magnesium oil comes in handy as magnesium needed for vitamin D assimilation.
MORE INFORMATION AND HOW TO MAKE IT
Check out how to make your own Magnesium Body Butter
Read more about the health benefits of bone broth and I high recommend listening to this podcast by Daniel Vitalis
You can read Chris Kresser’s post about RLS
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