Efficacy of vitamins C, E, and their combination for treatment of restless legs syndrome in hemodialysis patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Sleep Med. 2012 May;13(5):542-5. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.11.010. Epub 2012 Feb 7.


Background: Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a common disorder in hemodialysis patients that leads to insomnia and impaired quality of life. Because high oxidative stress has been implicated in the pathogenesis of RLS, we sought to evaluate the efficacy of vitamins C and E and their combination in reducing the severity of RLS symptoms in hemodialysis patients in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, four-arm parallel trial.

Methods: Sixty stable hemodialysis patients who had all four diagnostic criteria for RLS developed by the International Restless Legs Syndrome Group with no acute illness or history of renal stone were randomly allocated to four fifteen-patient parallel groups to receive vitamin C (200 mg) and vitamin E (400 mg), vitamin C (200 mg) and placebo, vitamin E (400 mg) and placebo, and double placebo daily for eight weeks. International Restless Legs Scale (IRLS) scores were measured for all patients at baseline and at the end of treatment phase. The primary outcome was absolute change in IRLS sum score from baseline to the end of treatment phase.

Results: Means of IRLS sum score decreased significantly in the vitamins C and E (10.3 ± 5.3, 95% CI: 7.4-13.3), vitamin C and placebo (10 ± 3.5, 95% CI: 8.1-11.9), and vitamin E and placebo groups (10.1 ± 6, 95% CI: 6.8-13.5) compared with the double placebo group (3.1 ± 3, 95% CI: 1.5-4.8), (P<0.001); however, no differences were observed between these treatment groups.

Conclusions: Vitamins C and E and their combination are safe and effective treatments for reducing the severity of RLS in hemodialysis patients over the short-term.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Ascorbic Acid / administration & dosage
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Ascorbic Acid