How to Support Hot Flashes with Supplements and Diet‡
Learn how supplements, diet, and lifestyle may moderate perimenopause and menopause symptoms‡
For many women, hot flashes and night sweats are part of perimenopause and menopause. The good news is that the right combination of lifestyle habits, diet, and supplements may help with these symptoms.‡
More and more research is being done to explore the impacts of hormonal changes on women’s physical and mental health. And with this, we’re learning how different approaches to a balanced and healthy lifestyle can help support hot flashes, night sweats, and other common symptoms of menopause and perimenopause.
Perimenopause and menopause are part of aging. Menopause happens when you have not had your period for 12 months. However, the symptoms that accompany this hormonal transition can last for many years before and after.
While physiological responses to menopause vary from woman to woman, symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats tend to be the most common. One study found that hot flashes can last 10 years on average, so addressing them may ensure your quality of life isn’t negatively affected.
Unfortunately, perimenopause and menopause are often taboo topics, with many women not knowing what to expect or how to manage the symptoms of this hormonal transition.
In this blog we give you the information you need to make informed choices about how to continue to live your best life while supporting menopausal comfort including hot flashes, night sweats and other symptoms.‡
Keep reading to learn about:
- What perimenopause and menopause are
- Common symptoms of perimenopause and menopause
- Why hot flashes and night sweats happen
- The supplements, diet, and lifestyle habits that may help support these symptoms
As always, feel free to contact us with your questions about our vitamins, supplements, and other products.
What are Perimenopause and Menopause?
Perimenopause and menopause are the stages of life where your hormone production begins to change and ultimately your reproductive years end.
While every woman is unique, perimenopause typically starts in your mid- to late-40s and can last up to 10 years before you enter menopause.5
- Perimenopause is the transition between reproductive years and menopause. This period of time is characterized by declining estrogen levels.
- Menopause occurs when your ovaries stop creating estrogen and progesterone and your period stops. This can happen anytime in your 40s and 50s, with the average age in the U.S being 51.
Common Symptoms of Perimenopause and Menopause
Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause do vary based on the individual. In general, women experience these perimenopause and menopause symptoms:
- Hot flashes are the most common symptom. A hot flash is a sudden wave of heat or warmth, often accompanied by sweating, reddening of your skin, and a rapid heartbeat. A hot flash can last 1 to 5 minutes and is frequently followed by a cold chill.
- Night sweats are hot flashes that interfere with your sleep.6
- Irregular periods with the length of time between your periods being longer or shorter, changes to your flow, and you may also skip some periods.
- Mood swings and irritability may happen during perimenopause. The cause of these symptoms may be sleep disruptions associated with night sweats and hot flashes.7
What Causes Hot Flashes and Night Sweats?
While the causes of hot flashes are not entirely understood, researchers agree they are linked to a change in the body’s thermoneutral zone. The thermoneutral zone is where your body temperature is comfortable, the fine line between sweating and shivering.
As estrogen levels drop during the menopause years, this zone becomes smaller, so the slightest temperature changes or stimuli can cause an overreaction.
Estrogen also supports the regulation of norepinephrine activity in the brain. Norepinephrine acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter and is the hormone involved in the stress response, including increasing heart rate and blood flow. Elevated norepinephrine is associated with hot flashes because it may also impact the thermoneutral zone.8
Hot flashes and night sweats can last seconds or much longer, interrupting daily activities and significantly impacting sleep. Some women have only mild, occasional hot flashes. While other women have up to 20 hot flashes a day.
The good news is there are supplements, dietary changes, and lifestyle habit that can help support hot flashes and night sweats.‡
5 Supplements, Foods, and Lifestyle Habits that may Help Support
Hot Flashes and Night Sweats‡
These supplements, foods, and lifestyle habits may help support common perimenopause and menopause symptoms.‡1. Increase Your Folic Acid Intake
Folic acid, the B vitamin usually associated with healthy pregnancy outcomes, may also support the reduction of menopause symptoms. A clinical trial of menopausal women found that those who took supplemental folic acid for a month saw reductions in severity, duration, and frequency of hot flashes compared to the control group who took a placebo supplement.‡
Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate that’s present in most fortified foods and many supplements. Natural forms of this vitamin that are found in dark green vegetables, beans, fruit, and nuts.‡
Taking folic acid supplements when you cannot regularly consume dietary sources of folate may be a good option. Studies suggest that folic acid acts similarly to estrogen in the body by supporting reductions in the secretion of norepinephrine, which helps regulate the thermoneutral zone, providing support for hot flashes and night sweats.‡
There is increasing and compelling evidence showing that estrogen decline during the menopausal transition contributes to a systemic inflammatory state. Because inflammation can exacerbate symptoms, it’s suggested that women with higher markers also experience more hot flashes.
As a result, an anti-inflammatory diet low in processed foods and high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds may be beneficial. One study found that women who follow an anti-inflammatory diet are less likely to have menopause symptoms, including physical and mental concerns. And diets high in foods considered inflammatory such as refined oils, processed meats, and sugar are linked to more reports of menopause symptoms, including night sweats and hot flashes.
Interestingly, the description of an anti-inflammatory diet in these studies is similar to the Mediterranean diet. High in antioxidants and phytochemicals, the Mediterranean diet has been studied for its anti-inflammatory effect on many health conditions, including hot flashes.
The Mediterranean diet is also high in omega-3 fatty acids from regular fish intake.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in anti-inflammatory foods such as dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, fruits, and cruciferous vegetables.
Try to incorporate these foods into your daily meals and snacks:
- Chia seeds
- Olive oil
There is no denying the health benefits of adding more plants, whole grains, and unprocessed foods to your diet.24
From reducing the risks of some serious illnesses to decreasing the risks of heart conditions, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol – more people are cutting back on meat and adding in more plant-based foods.
The good news is that eating less meat may also aid in menopause symptom support. In one study, women who followed a vegan diet reported fewer vasomotor symptoms than women who consumed more meat. This was especially true for those who ate more vegetables, suggesting that increasing vegetable intake can help even if you don’t completely remove meat from your diet.
Making dietary changes can be challenging. To eat more plant-based foods, try these subtle changes:
- Add an extra handful of spinach or grated carrots to your smoothie
- Always have washed and fresh fruit available for snacks
- Choose one day of the week to go meatless
- Try new-to-you foods like jackfruit, nutritional yeast, or tempeh
- Swap cow’s milk for plant-based milk such as oat, almond, or cashew milk
Several studies suggest that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) or greater percent of body fat have severe hot flashes more often. Weight gain may also increase the incidence of hot flashes, with them reducing as women reach a healthy weight.
We know that being overweight can be an underlying factor for many health concerns including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, sleep apnea, metabolic syndrome, and more. These risks combined with the impacts to perimenopausal, and menopausal symptoms makes a strong case for maintaining a healthy weight.
To help maintain a healthy weight, try to incorporate these habits into your day-to-day:
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. This can be walking, swimming, yoga, cycling – anything you enjoy and gets you moving your body.
- Try to follow the Mediterranean diet or incorporate more foods from this diet in your meals.
- Cut back on sugary and processed foods.
Soy is controversial in the women’s health world because of its ability to act like estrogen in the body. However, these phytoestrogens are weak compared to estrogen in the body and may benefit some women.
Soy may support a reduction in hot flashes through its influence on hormone receptors, helping to make up for the drop in estrogen levels that can lead to symptoms. Studies on supplementation are mixed, so more research is needed, but dietary intake of soy can be a valuable addition to your meals.
Eating moderate amounts of unprocessed soy foods like edamame and tofu while staying away from fake meats and cheese may positively support symptom management through the estrogen-like effects.
Try adding these unprocessed soy foods to your diet:
- Unsweetened soy milk
- Unsweetened soy yogurt
Taking Care of Yourself During Perimenopause and Menopause
Do not brush aside or minimize your perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
Hot flashes, night sweats, trouble sleeping, mood changes, irregular periods, and vaginal and bladder problems are real health concerns.
Do yourself a favor and continue to read and learn about how you can support yourself during this normal life transition. The more you know and understand about perimenopause and menopause, the easier it is to make choices that can help ease symptoms and make you feel better.
When you eat healthy foods, take supportive supplements, and follow healthy lifestyle habits – your physical and mental health wins. Remember, no one is perfect – there will be days when you can’t get enough vegetables into your diet, or you simply don’t have time to exercise.
The important thing is that you put a priority on taking care of yourself and making changes that help you feel better day-in and day-out.
Use our Purely For You personalized supplement plan to provide you with tailored wellness recommendations to meet your specific nutritional needs.
Remember, we are here to support you in achieving optimal personal wellness. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news, promotions, and nutritional/lifestyle content Purely For You.
Bromberger, T. Joyce and Howard M. Kravitz. “Mood and Menopause: Findings from the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) over ten years.” Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am, 38(3) (September 2011): 609-625. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3197240/
National Institute on Aging. “What Is Menopause?” Accessed April 13, 2021. http://www.nia.nih.gov/health/what-menopause.
Avis, Nancy E., Sybil L. Crawford, and Robin Green. “Vasomotor Symptoms Across the Menopause Transition: Differences Among Women.” Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America 45, no. 4 (December 2018): 629–40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ogc.2018.07.005.
- Freeman, Ellen W., Mary D. Sammel, Hui Lin, Ziyue Liu, and Clarisa R. Gracia. “Duration of Menopausal Hot Flushes and Associated Risk Factors.” Obstetrics and Gynecology 117, no. 5 (May 2011): 1095–1104. https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0b013e318214f0de.
Menopause, Perimenopause and Postmenopause: Clevelandclinic.org (Accessed September 8, 2021)
Prior, Jerilynn C. “Perimenopause: The Complex Endocrinology of the Menopausal Transition” Endocrine Reviews Volume 19, Issue 4 (August 1998): 397-428. https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/19/4/397/2530801
Menopause. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20353397 . (Accessed August 30, 201)
Menopause 101: A primer for the perimenopausal. https://www.menopause.org/for-women/menopauseflashes/menopause-symptoms-and-treatments/menopause-101-a-primer-for-the-perimenopausal (Accessed August 30, 2021)
Perimenopause. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/perimenopause/symptoms-causes/syc-20354666 (Accessed August 30, 2021)
Freedman, Robert R. “MENOPAUSAL HOT FLASHES: MECHANISMS, ENDOCRINOLOGY, TREATMENT.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology 142 (July 2014): 115–20. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2013.08.010.
What Do We Know About Hot Flashes in Menopause?: University of Rochester Medical Center (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/ob-gyn/ur-medicine-menopause-and-womens-health/menopause-blog/january-2015/what-do-we-know-about-hot-flashes-in-menopause.aspx
Bylund, D. B., and K. C. Bylund. “Norepinephrine.” In Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences (Second Edition), edited by Michael J. Aminoff and Robert B. Daroff, 614–16. Oxford: Academic Press, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-385157-4.00047-6.
- Thurston, Rebecca C., Joyce T. Bromberger, Hadine Joffe, Nancy E. Avis, Rachel Hess, Carolyn J. Crandall, Yuefang Chang, Robin Green, and Karen A. Matthews. “Beyond Frequency: Who Is Most Bothered by Vasomotor Symptoms?” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 15, no. 5 (October 2008): 841–47. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e318168f09b.
Bani, Soheila, Shirin Hasanpour, Leila Farzad Rik, Hadi Hasankhani, and Seiedeh Hajar Sharami. “The Effect of Folic Acid on Menopausal Hot Flashes: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Journal of Caring Sciences 2, no. 2 (June 1, 2013): 131–40. https://doi.org/10.5681/jcs.2013.016.
Folate (folic acid): Mayoclinic.org (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625
Ewies, Ayman AA. “Folic Acid Supplementation: The New Dawn for Postmenopausal Women with Hot Flushes.” World Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 2, no. 4 (November 10, 2013): 87–93. https://doi.org/10.5317/wjog.v2.i4.87.
McCarthy, Micheline, Ami P. Raval. “The peri-menopause in a woman’s life: a systemic inflammatory phase that enables later neurogenerative disease.” Journal of Neuroinflammation, 17, no. 317 (October 2020) https://jneuroinflammation.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12974-020-01998-9
- Thurston, Rebecca C., Joyce T. Bromberger, Hadine Joffe, Nancy E. Avis, Rachel Hess, Carolyn J. Crandall, Yuefang Chang, Robin Green, and Karen A. Matthews. “Beyond Frequency: Who Is Most Bothered by Vasomotor Symptoms?” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 15, no. 5 (October 2008): 841–47. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e318168f09b
Aslani, Zahra, Maryam Abshirini, Motahar Heidari-Beni, Fereydoun Siassi, Mostafa Qorbani, Nitin Shivappa, James R. Hébert, Mahshid Soleymani, and Gity Sotoudeh. “Dietary Inflammatory Index and Dietary Energy Density Are Associated with Menopausal Symptoms in Postmenopausal Women: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Menopause 27, no. 5 (May 2020): 568–78. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000001502.
Soleymani, Mahshid, Fereydoun Siassi, Mostafa Qorbani, Shahla Khosravi, Zahra Aslany, Maryam Abshirini, Ghazal Zolfaghari, and Gity Sotoudeh. “Dietary Patterns and Their Association with Menopausal Symptoms: A Cross-Sectional Study.” Menopause 26, no. 4 (April 2019): 365–72. https://doi.org/10.1097/GME.0000000000001245.
- Barrea, Luigi, Gabriella Pugliese, Daniela Laudisio, Annamaria Colao, Silvia Savastano, and Giovanna Muscogiuri. “Mediterranean Diet as Medical Prescription in Menopausal Women with Obesity: A Practical Guide for Nutritionists.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 61, no. 7 (April 12, 2021): 1201–11. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2020.1755220.
Mediterranean diet for heart health: Mayoclinic.org (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801
How Does Plant-Forward (Plant-Based) Eating Benefit your Health? https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/nutrition-basics/how-does-plant-forward-eating-benefit-your-health (Accessed August 30, 2021)
Beezhold, Bonnie, Cynthia Radnitz, Robert E. McGrath, and Arielle Feldman. “Vegans Report Less Bothersome Vasomotor and Physical Menopausal Symptoms than Omnivores.” Maturitas 112 (June 2018): 12–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2018.03.009.
Kroenke, Candyce H., Bette J. Caan, Marcia L. Stefanick, Garnet Anderson, Robert Brzyski, Karen C. Johnson, Erin LeBlanc, et al. “Effects of a Dietary Intervention and Weight Change on Vasomotor Symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 19, no. 9 (September 2012): 980–88. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e31824f606e.
Kapoor, Ekta, Maria L. Collazo-Clavell, and Stephanie S. Faubion. “Weight Gain in Women at Midlife: A Concise Review of the Pathophysiology and Strategies for Management.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 92, no. 10 (October 2017): 1552–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.08.004.
- Health Risks of Overweight & Obesity. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/adult-overweight-obesity/health-risks (Accessed August 30, 2021)
Koo, Seul, Younjhin Ahn, Joong-Yeon Lim, Juhee Cho, and Hyun-Young Park. “Obesity associates with vasomotor symptoms in postmenopause but with physical symptoms in menopause: a cross-sectional study.” BMC Womens Health (December 8, 2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5721621/
Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight: CDC.gov (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html
- Poulimeneas, Dimitrios, Costas A. Anastasiou, Inês Santos, James O. Hill, Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos, Mary Yannakoulia. “Exploring the relationship between the Mediterranean diet and weight loss maintenance: the MedWeight Study.” Cambridge University Free Press (May 21, 2020) https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/exploring-the-relationship-between-the-mediterranean-diet-and-weight-loss-maintenance-the-medweight-study/010E19A22444D3EA34FDBC6D1E097BC3
Food and Diet: Obesity Prevention Source: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. (Accessed September 8, 2021) https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-causes/diet-and-weight/
Taku, Kyoko, Melissa K. Melby, Fredi Kronenberg, Mindy S. Kurzer, and Mark Messina. “Extracted or Synthesized Soybean Isoflavones Reduce Menopausal Hot Flash Frequency and Severity: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Menopause (New York, N.Y.) 19, no. 7 (July 2012): 776–90. https://doi.org/10.1097/gme.0b013e3182410159.
Zaheer, Khalid, and M. Humayoun Akhtar. “An Updated Review of Dietary Isoflavones: Nutrition, Processing, Bioavailability and Impacts on Human Health.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 57, no. 6 (April 13, 2017): 1280–93. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2014.989958.
Borrelli, Francesca, and Edzard Ernst. “Alternative and Complementary Therapies for the Menopause.” Maturitas 66, no. 4 (August 2010): 333–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.maturitas.2010.05.010.
‡ These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.