Vitamin D deficiency linked to restless legs syndrome

RLS is more frequent, and sleep quality poorer, in patients with vitamin D deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency is a worldwide health problem that has been linked to musculoskeletal dysfunctions, cancers, autoimmune diseases and hypertension.

Count among these disorders restless legs syndrome (RLS), the neurological disorder that is characterised by an irresistible urge to move the extremities to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations.

Sleep disruption is the primary side effect of RLS. A study published in the journal Acta Neurologica Belgica assessed the connection between RLS, sleep quality and vitamin D deficiency to discover whether vitamin D supplementation might alleviate RLS and its sleep difficulties.

To this end, a research team in Turkey recruited a total of 102 patients with lower extremity pain for a cross-sectional trial. After testing the participants for vitamin D deficiency, the team assigned 57 vitamin D-deficient patients (with levels <20ng/mL) to group 1 and 45 patients with normal levels of vitamin D (levels ≥20ng/mL) to group 2.

The International RLS Study Group (IRLSSG) Scale was used to diagnose RLS and measure symptom severity, and sleep quality was measured with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI).

The incidence of RLS was higher in Group 1 (P=0.034), and sleep quality was worse (higher PSQI scores: P<0.05). There was no difference in clinical evaluation or IRLSSG Symptom Severity Scale scores between Group 1 and Group 2 (P>0.05). The most salient difference in subscores was that Group 1’s sleep quality was poorer, in that they suffered from longer delays in achieving sleep and greater disruption of daily activities related to sleeplessness.

The findings of this study — preliminary as they are — support the hypothesis that RLS is more frequent, and sleep quality poorer, in patients with vitamin D deficiency.

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