My Story and My Cure for RLS

For everything and anything else not covered in the other RLS sections.
Post Reply
nomoreRLS
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

My Story and My Cure for RLS

Post by nomoreRLS »

This may be a longer post, but I highly advise anyone with RLS to read all of it and try my course of action.

I have had RLS for over 1 year. Its been mild to severe at night, and over the past two months has destroyed my ability to get deep sleep at night. My legs hurt so bad I could cry. After breaking down, I realized that I had to do something about this. One trip to the doctor and I was offered Requip, Ambien, etc.. This was NOT an option for me, I do not believe in taking medicine that is still experimental, dangerous, and unhealthy. Treating the symptoms will never heal the disease, you must find out what is causing the disease in order to heal it. On that note, I started months of researching on why people have RLS, and what was causing it. After visiting almost every RLS website on the internet, I had an education about what "theories" doctors had about RLS. Also, if you look at most of the research and studies on RLS, you will see that they all revolve around IRON. This was the turning point for me. I rarely eat vegetables, and I was once a big red meat eater, but cut back about 1-2 years ago. On average I would eat red meat once every week or two. I decided to go to the doctor.

At this time I had blood tests done, the doctor said I was very healthy, and all levels were within range. Im not a doctor, but I assume they just gave me a basic blood test, with no intensive iron bloodwork. Again, the doctor reccomended erperimental drugs that I refuse to take. I tried taking multivitamins with extra iron in them, for weeks. They did absolutely nothing. I tried over the counter medicine like "restful legs", this eased some of the RLS, but did not ease enough to sleep properly. I went back and read more and more about RLS, every I look i see the word "IRON".

I decided to change my diet for 1 week and up my intake of iron. I started eating 1 bowl of Raisin Bran for breakfast (its high in iron), then red meat at lunch. Red meat was usually in the form of a hamburger, not a big mac, but a high quality restaruant burger. Within 3 days I was sleeping much better. I went from waking up 12+ times per night, to around 3 or 4 times per night. I have only been doing this for 1 week, but I havent slept this well in almost a year. I get deeper, uninterrupted sleep. I dont toss and turn like I used to, and NO MORE RLS!

So, why did this food help, and vitamins not help? Iron supplements are hard to absorb and hard to digest. There are also types of iron that you can only get from certain foods.(taken from http://www.bloodbook.com/iron-foods.html):

What are the Main Causes of Dietary Iron Deficiency?
1. Not eating enough iron rich foods. For example, those on restrictive diets and in some cases, vegetarians who do not eat enough of the proper foods.
2. Increased demand for iron, for example to replace Blood loss (e. g. from menstruation in some women) or in times of accelerated growth (such as during adolescence) or extreme and/or unusual physical activity or during and after an aggressive autologous Blood donation program.

Is All Dietary Iron the Same?
The are two different types of digestible iron in food
:
1. hemo iron, found in red meat seafood and poultry, and
2. non-hemo iron found in breads, fruits, breakfast cereals, vegetable, legumes (e. g. baked beans), nuts and eggs. Iron Rich Foods, Foods Rich in Iron and high Iron Foods with foods with iron.

Hemo iron foods are rich in iron and contain iron in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. Red meat also has a special effect on iron absorption. Red meat, when eaten together with the vegetables, can boost the absorption of non-hemo iron by up to 400%. Vitamin C has a similar positive effect on the absorption of iron.

In other words, the key to a healthy iron rich diet is to eat a combination of iron rich foods, high in both hemo and non-hemo iron.

Are You Eating Iron-rich Foods Every Day?
Since the average man needs to digest 10 mg. to 18 mg. of dietary iron every day and the average woman needs 18 or more mg. of dietary iron every day, it is easy to eat a lot of good food and not get enough iron. If you are not getting enough iron, the best way to increase your iron intake is by effecting a slight change in your eating habits. If you are unable to include more iron-rich food in your diet, it may be good to check with your physician about an iron supplement.

Exactly What Other Foods Rich in Iron Will Help Me the Most?

Eat more food containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron into your body. This is very helpful if you are a vegetarian. Vegetarians consume less iron because they obtain it from plant sources. Some plants contain chemicals that bind the iron rendering it more easily absorbed. You can also counteract this being eating foods high in calcium with it (calcium binds the chemicals, making iron more easily absorbed into the Blood) You can still obtain iron from vegetables. Foods such as beans, whole grains, spinach, and dried fruits have a significant amount of iron.

Red meat contains a significant amounts of iron. If fat is a reason that you do not eat red meat, try eating extra lean meat. Liver is an excellent source of iron. (see table)

Eat a lot of iron rich cereal. Many cereals are fortified with iron. Check the food label on the box and look for iron under the daily values.

You should also avoid drinking tea with your meals that are high in iron. Tea contains tannin that could inhibit the absorption of iron.

--------------------------------------

Some Good Sources Foods Rich in Iron* (Dietary Iron) are:

List of Grains Rich in Iron: Iron (mg.)
Brown rice, 1 cup cooked 0.8
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 0.9
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons 1.1
English Muffin, 1 plain 1.4
Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked 1.6
Total cereal, 1 ounce 18.0
Cream of Wheat, 1 cup 10.0
Pita, whole wheat, 1 slice/piece, 6 ½ inch 1.9
Spaghetti, enriched, 1 cup, cooked 2.0
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 6.3

List of Iron Rich Legumes, Seeds, and Soy:
Sunflower seeds, 1 ounce 1.4
Soy milk, 1 cup 1.4
Kidney beans, ½ cup canned 1.6
Chickpeas, ½ cup, canned 1.6
Tofu, firm, ½ cup 1.8
Soy burger, 1 average 1.8 to 3.9*

List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:
Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled 0.7
Green beans, ½ cup, boiled 0.8
Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled 1.8
Beets, 1 cup 1.8
Peas, ½ cup frozen, boiled 1.3
Potato, fresh baked, cooked w/skin on 4.0
Vegetables, green leafy, ½ cup 2.0
Watermelon, 6 inch x ½ inch slice 3.0

A Sample List of Foods Rich in Iron:

Blackstrap Molasses, one tablespoon 3.0
Dates or Prunes, ½ cup 2.4
Beef, Pork, Lamb, three ounces 2.3 to 3.0
Liver (beef, chicken), three ounces 8.0 to 25.0
Clams, Oysters ¾ cup 3.0
Dark meat Turkey ¾ cup 2.6
Pizza, cheese or pepperoni, ½ of 10 inch pie 4.5 to 5.5

-------------------------------------

I have been RLS free for 1 week now, I will continue to update you all on my status. Good luck to everyone who is searching for a cure, if you have any questions, please feel free to reply.
Last edited by nomoreRLS on Mon Sep 15, 2008 10:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ViewsAskew
Moderator
Posts: 16259
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 6:37 am
Location: Los Angeles

Post by ViewsAskew »

That's great news for you.

I think anyone who's read about RLS would highly recommend everyone have a ferritin test when first trying to resolve RLS (or if you never have). If it is below 100, it's wise to increase your iron. But, please do not take iron if you don't know your score!!!! Iron in food should be fine as long as the doctor has not told you you have hemachromatosis.

Iron DOES work in up to 60% of people. It just doesn't work completely for all of them, nor does it work at all in the remaining 40%.

But, it's definitely worth trying and always should be part of any RLS plan.
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest

Managing Your RLS

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

ctravel12
Posts: 2125
Joined: Mon Jul 03, 2006 2:02 am
Location: Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Contact:

Post by ctravel12 »

I am happy that this is working for you. One thing to remember is what works for one may not work for another. I have had rls (painful) for over 20 yrs and I have tried alot of what you had mentioned and did not work for me. Like I said what works for one may not work for another.

I hope that this continues for you.
Charlene
Taking one day at a time

mackjergens
Posts: 406
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:10 am

Post by mackjergens »

There are 2 types of RLS..
Primary RLS which is inherited (born with) and
Secondary RLS... I believe in my research about RLS I have read many times that secondary rls could be caused by low iron. But Primary RLS is not usually caused by low iron. So I am sure this is why raising Iron intake does not work for all who have RLS.

nomoreRLS
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2008 8:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Post by nomoreRLS »

My brother and father both have had RLS problems in the past as well as sudden movement disorder in their legs.

ViewsAskew
Moderator
Posts: 16259
Joined: Thu Oct 28, 2004 6:37 am
Location: Los Angeles

Post by ViewsAskew »

They really don't know what causes RLS, but everything does point to iron.

The problem is that it's iron in the brain causing difficulties, not in our blood or marrow. In addition, since there are at least three genes involved, we don't yet know what these gene variants do to the way we get or resolve RLS.

The studies have shown that increasing iron can help anyone with RLS, but doesn't help everyone. They don't know why. Some people have low iron concentrations in their blood - that's usually called anemia. These people are always helped when they take iron and they have RLS, regardless of the type of RLS they have. It might not go away, but it gets better.

People with low ferritin levels - the measure of iron storage in our bodies - seem to be helped sometimes....and not others.

It's an extremely complicated topic and the researchers are steadily chipping away at it. They really need funding, though, so if this interests anyone and they think finding out how this mechanism works could help our children and grandchildren, I am pretty sure the RLS Foundation could use a donation. They use as much of their money as they can to fund such research.
Ann - Take what you need, leave the rest

Managing Your RLS

Opinions presented by Discussion Board Moderators are personal in nature and do not, in any way, represent the opinion of the RLS Foundation, and are not medical advice.

Barbee
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat May 31, 2008 2:19 am

Re: My Story and My Cure for RLS

Post by Barbee »

nomoreRLS wrote:This may be a longer post, but I highly advise anyone with RLS to read all of it and try my course of action.

I have had RLS for over 1 year. Its been mild to severe at night, and over the past two months has destroyed my ability to get deep sleep at night. My legs hurt so bad I could cry. After breaking down, I realized that I had to do something about this. One trip to the doctor and I was offered Requip, Ambien, etc.. This was NOT an option for me, I do not believe in taking medicine that is still experimental, dangerous, and unhealthy. Treating the symptoms will never heal the disease, you must find out what is causing the disease in order to heal it. On that note, I started months of researching on why people have RLS, and what was causing it. After visiting almost every RLS website on the internet, I had an education about what "theories" doctors had about RLS. Also, if you look at most of the research and studies on RLS, you will see that they all revolve around IRON. This was the turning point for me. I rarely eat vegetables, and I was once a big red meat eater, but cut back about 1-2 years ago. On average I would eat red meat once every week or two. I decided to go to the doctor.

At this time I had blood tests done, the doctor said I was very healthy, and all levels were within range. Im not a doctor, but I assume they just gave me a basic blood test, with no intensive iron bloodwork. Again, the doctor reccomended erperimental drugs that I refuse to take. I tried taking multivitamins with extra iron in them, for weeks. They did absolutely nothing. I tried over the counter medicine like "restful legs", this eased some of the RLS, but did not ease enough to sleep properly. I went back and read more and more about RLS, every I look i see the word "IRON".

I decided to change my diet for 1 week and up my intake of iron. I started eating 1 bowl of Raisin Bran for breakfast (its high in iron), then red meat at lunch. Red meat was usually in the form of a hamburger, not a big mac, but a high quality restaruant burger. Within 3 days I was sleeping much better. I went from waking up 12+ times per night, to around 3 or 4 times per night. I have only been doing this for 1 week, but I havent slept this well in almost a year. I get deeper, uninterrupted sleep. I dont toss and turn like I used to, and NO MORE RLS!

So, why did this food help, and vitamins not help? Iron supplements are hard to absorb and hard to digest. There are also types of iron that you can only get from certain foods.(taken from http://www.bloodbook.com/iron-foods.html):

What are the Main Causes of Dietary Iron Deficiency?
1. Not eating enough iron rich foods. For example, those on restrictive diets and in some cases, vegetarians who do not eat enough of the proper foods.
2. Increased demand for iron, for example to replace Blood loss (e. g. from menstruation in some women) or in times of accelerated growth (such as during adolescence) or extreme and/or unusual physical activity or during and after an aggressive autologous Blood donation program.

Is All Dietary Iron the Same?
The are two different types of digestible iron in food
:
1. hemo iron, found in red meat seafood and poultry, and
2. non-hemo iron found in breads, fruits, breakfast cereals, vegetable, legumes (e. g. baked beans), nuts and eggs. Iron Rich Foods, Foods Rich in Iron and high Iron Foods with foods with iron.

Hemo iron foods are rich in iron and contain iron in a form that is easily absorbed by the body. Red meat also has a special effect on iron absorption. Red meat, when eaten together with the vegetables, can boost the absorption of non-hemo iron by up to 400%. Vitamin C has a similar positive effect on the absorption of iron.

In other words, the key to a healthy iron rich diet is to eat a combination of iron rich foods, high in both hemo and non-hemo iron.

Are You Eating Iron-rich Foods Every Day?
Since the average man needs to digest 10 mg. to 18 mg. of dietary iron every day and the average woman needs 18 or more mg. of dietary iron every day, it is easy to eat a lot of good food and not get enough iron. If you are not getting enough iron, the best way to increase your iron intake is by effecting a slight change in your eating habits. If you are unable to include more iron-rich food in your diet, it may be good to check with your physician about an iron supplement.

Exactly What Other Foods Rich in Iron Will Help Me the Most?

Eat more food containing Vitamin C. Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron into your body. This is very helpful if you are a vegetarian. Vegetarians consume less iron because they obtain it from plant sources. Some plants contain chemicals that bind the iron rendering it more easily absorbed. You can also counteract this being eating foods high in calcium with it (calcium binds the chemicals, making iron more easily absorbed into the Blood) You can still obtain iron from vegetables. Foods such as beans, whole grains, spinach, and dried fruits have a significant amount of iron.

Red meat contains a significant amounts of iron. If fat is a reason that you do not eat red meat, try eating extra lean meat. Liver is an excellent source of iron. (see table)

Eat a lot of iron rich cereal. Many cereals are fortified with iron. Check the food label on the box and look for iron under the daily values.

You should also avoid drinking tea with your meals that are high in iron. Tea contains tannin that could inhibit the absorption of iron.

--------------------------------------

Some Good Sources Foods Rich in Iron* (Dietary Iron) are:

List of Grains Rich in Iron: Iron (mg.)
Brown rice, 1 cup cooked 0.8
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 0.9
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons 1.1
English Muffin, 1 plain 1.4
Oatmeal, 1 cup cooked 1.6
Total cereal, 1 ounce 18.0
Cream of Wheat, 1 cup 10.0
Pita, whole wheat, 1 slice/piece, 6 ½ inch 1.9
Spaghetti, enriched, 1 cup, cooked 2.0
Raisin bran cereal, 1 cup 6.3

List of Iron Rich Legumes, Seeds, and Soy:
Sunflower seeds, 1 ounce 1.4
Soy milk, 1 cup 1.4
Kidney beans, ½ cup canned 1.6
Chickpeas, ½ cup, canned 1.6
Tofu, firm, ½ cup 1.8
Soy burger, 1 average 1.8 to 3.9*

List of Vegetables Rich in Iron:
Broccoli, ½ cup, boiled 0.7
Green beans, ½ cup, boiled 0.8
Lima beans, baby, frozen, ½ cup, boiled 1.8
Beets, 1 cup 1.8
Peas, ½ cup frozen, boiled 1.3
Potato, fresh baked, cooked w/skin on 4.0
Vegetables, green leafy, ½ cup 2.0
Watermelon, 6 inch x ½ inch slice 3.0

A Sample List of Foods Rich in Iron:

Blackstrap Molasses, one tablespoon 3.0
Dates or Prunes, ½ cup 2.4
Beef, Pork, Lamb, three ounces 2.3 to 3.0
Liver (beef, chicken), three ounces 8.0 to 25.0
Clams, Oysters ¾ cup 3.0
Dark meat Turkey ¾ cup 2.6
Pizza, cheese or pepperoni, ½ of 10 inch pie 4.5 to 5.5

-------------------------------------

I have been RLS free for 1 week now, I will continue to update you all on my status. Good luck to everyone who is searching for a cure, if you have any questions, please feel free to reply.


I'm on the Atkins, eating meat at every meal as well as a lot of veggies... and it has not helped my RLS at all! !

mackjergens
Posts: 406
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2007 5:10 am

Iron and RLS

Post by mackjergens »

This info is copied/pasted from www.rlshelp.org

NOTE: where it states it takes 6 months to replace irons stored to help rls.


_____________________________________________________________
Medication to Treat Deficiency States
Iron Therapy
Iron therapy in patients with no iron deficiency has not been demonstrated to be of benefit. However, in patients with significant (and often even minor) iron deficiency states, adding iron may be of very profound help in alleviating RLS symptoms. Iron deficiency has been found in a high percentage (20-25% in some studies) of RLS patients. All patients with RLS should have their iron levels checked as detailed below.

Iron deficiency is usually diagnosed by the resulting anemia (decreased amount of red blood cells/smaller red blood cells), with hemoglobin levels of below 14 for men and 12 for women measured with a CBC (Complete Blood Count). However, in mild iron deficiency states, the hemoglobin may be within normal limits and therefore not indicate the patient's iron deficiency problem. Therefore, more sensitive tests such as direct iron levels (with iron binding capacity) is suggested. An even more sensitive test is the serum ferritin level. For patients with severe iron deficiency (serum ferritin levels below 18 mcg/L) or mild iron deficiency (serum ferritin levels between 18-45 mcg/L), therapy with iron was very beneficial for relieving RLS symptoms. Patients with serum ferritin levels of between 45-100 mcg/L may have some response to iron therapy, but generally not as significant as with lower serum ferritin levels.

Treatment of this iron deficiency should be with oral iron tablets (ferrous sulfate) of 325 mg (5 grain), three times a day. Iron is better absorbed on an empty stomach, but this may cause some stomach upset. If so, then take the iron tablets with food. The other common side effect of iron therapy is constipation (and it also turns the stool black). Metamucil (1-2 teaspoons per day) is recommended to counteract this problem (and the fiber itself has been reported to help RLS). It takes 6 months to replace iron stores, at which point the serum ferritin should be rechecked and iron therapy stopped if appropriate levels have been reached.

Please do not start iron therapy without the consent of your doctor. Taking iron inappropriately can cause serious problems! Therefore, do this only with proper physician guidance.

sardsy75
Posts: 862
Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2004 8:56 am
Location: Queensland, Australia

Post by sardsy75 »

Great that you've found something that works for you NM.

Research is a part of every RLSer's life and you've done a heck of a lot and come up with a great result for yourself so you should be proud and happy that you've found a way to get that much needed sleep.

I'm an RLS lifer ... 33yrs and counting (i'm 33) ... I do take extra Iron with the blessing of both my GP and Sleep Doctor and it does help especially when I have my period.

I remember reading somewhere when I was first researching all this RLS stuff that it's something to do with a problem with Iron Uptake in a particular part of the brain. So, yes, Iron seems to be a major factor in all things RLS.

Sleep well :)
Nadia

My philosophy is simply this: Life is too short to be diplomatic. Your friends should not care what you do, or say; and for those who are not your friends ... their loss!!!

Post Reply