The Link Between Magnesium and Restless Legs Syndrome

Posted by Darian Dozier on Oct 30, 2023 7:09:00 AM

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Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a sleeping disorder where one feels a compulsive need to move their legs at night in order to relieve a stinging or pinpricking sensation. This constant movement interrupts the sleeper and any bed partners. Often, those uncomfortable sensations are relieved by the individual getting out of bed and walking around.

These uncomfortable sensations seem to worsen during inactivity, so one may become more aware of them while sitting down or lying down. While there is no active cure for them, there are some medications that can relieve these feelings. One popular medication is called Ropinirole, and can help calm down those sensations for improved sleep. However, if you would like to try something a bit more natural, then magnesium may due the trick.

Magnesium is a natural mineral that our bodies need to function. It plays a role in regulating different biochemical reactions in the body. A magnesium deficiency can cause issues with nerve impulse conduction, muscle contractions, and cramps. Continue reading to learn more about the impact that magnesium may have on RLS. 

Magnesium's impact on RLS

Early research suggests that there are certain causes of rLS that can be caused by a magnesium deficiency, and that by replacing magnesium, one can relieve their feelings of RLS. Magnesium is also used as a natural or alternative remedy for RLS. 

This may be due to magnesium's ability to relax muscles. Or, it could also be because of magnesium's ability to block calcium, which can help regulate nerves and muscles. If magnesium is low, then nerves can be over activated by unopposed calcium, and trigger constant muscle contractions.  

Therefore, according to this preliminary research, magnesium does seem to be an appropriate choice for a natural treatment of RLS, and its deficiency may even be the cause in some individuals. 

Side effects of magnesium 

Before taking magnesium supplements, it's important to understand that there are side effects of which one should be aware. These side effects could potentially be life threatening if not taken seriously. 

Some of the most common symptoms or side effects include stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. All of these side effects can be reduced by reducing the dose of magnesium. 

Some of the more severe side effects of note include impacts on the autonomic system. So, this could include low blood pressure, confusion, irregular heartbeat, and a slower rate or breathing. In severe cases, an overdose of magnesium can lead to coma or death. 

Forms and doses 

Magnesium is available in a variety of forms and doses. Most commonly, it is available in oral supplements over the counter. For adolescents and adults, 270-350mg is considered safe. It's best to talk with a physician to determine the proper dose depending on one's needs. 

Magnesium is also available in the diet. Foods rich in magnesium include: 

  • dark, leafy greens 
  • nuts and seeds
  • mackerel and tuna 
  • beans and lentils 
  • avocados 
  • bananas
  • low-fat and non-fat dairy


Magnesium, generally, is a safe supplement to take. Oral supplements and dietary intake of magnesium is the safest option. However, those with bleeding disorder should not take magnesium without talking with their physician first. Magnesium can slow blood clotting, and in crease the risk for bleeding. Those with kidney disorders, including kidney failure, also should refrain from taking magnesium. 

In certain hospital situations, one may receive magnesium through an IV. This may not be safe for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding. 

If in conjunction with any of the following medications, magnesium may have an adverse interaction: 

  • antibiotics (aminoglycoside, quinolone, tetracycline)
  • calcium channel blockers (verapamil and diltiazem)
  • muscle relaxants 
  • water pills (furosemide) 
  • bisphosphonates 

If you are having trouble with RLS, and you and your physician agree on magnesium, then begin adding that supplement, and monitor the results. If you continue having trouble, and have maxed out your dose of magnesium, then please consult a sleep health professional at our center by clicking the orange button below and taking a free online sleep test.

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