If you’ve been following my “Power Surge” series on natural remedies for menopause, you remember that I found amazing relief from my own flashes and night sweats with the Peruvian herb/food called maca. (If you missed this, you can read about it here.)
I’m happy to report that the maca is still doing the trick for me personally, but every week I talk to friends and clients at various stages of the menopausal journey (which can last 10 freaking years!) So many of them bemoan the need to suddenly peel off their sweaters at inopportune moments, or toss off all the sheets in the middle of the night.
Let’s face it: hot flashes totally suck.
Advice abounds on which herbs, supplements, exercises and practices will ease the transition through perimenopause and into “The Change.” A visit to the health food store presents you with a dizzying array of formulations.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and paralyzed by the barrage of information and choices.
The problem of course is that the protocol or supplement that worked wonders for your cousin or coworker may not be the right treatment for you. Each woman must explore how different dietary adjustments, herbs and other supplementation affect her individual body chemistry.
That’s why even though I recommend maca to every menopausal woman I meet, I know it won’t be right for all of them. So I’m continually on the hunt for new ideas on how to naturally treat this ubiquitous menopause symptom
Not too long ago my sister (the holistic medical professional) reminded me about a vitamin that is not newfangled or expensive, and that can have a profound affect on hot flashes and other symptoms.
And it promotes overall health and well being for everyone.
It’s vitamin E.
I mean it makes perfect sense. This is the time of life when it feels like every drop of vital moisture is being sapped away from the essential areas of our bodies – from our faces on down to our vaginas.
Of course an oil-based substance like vitamin E can restore some of that much-needed lubrication.
And it turns out vitamin E can do so much more.
Numerous studies (since the 1940s) have found vitamin E to reduce or alleviate several menopausal symptoms. The earliest of these reported that women who took vitamin E experienced only half the number of hot flashes they’d suffered prior to taking the supplement.
Further studies confirmed its abilities to decrease vaginal dryness and improve mood.
More modern studies (Mayo Clinic) confirmed the hot flash research, showing that taking 800 I.U. per day for just one month reduced the number of hot flashes that participants experienced.
And it’s not just about hot flashes.
This everyday vitamin can also give some sweet relief from night sweats, palpitations and vaginal thinning and dryness.
And it gets even better: it’s reported to have a beneficial effect on sexual functioning.
Now that’s something a lot of menopausal women will welcome!
“It” is actually a group of fat-soluble compounds with powerful antioxidant properties. Lots of folks take vitamin E because of these cancer-fighting antioxidant properties, but as we’re finding out, you can get a lot more benefits from a daily dose of E.
An antioxidant is a substance that fights free radicals and slows down damage to cells due to oxidation. Believe me, you want something that’s ready to go to battle with free radicals! They are nasty little molecules that cause all sorts of diseases and imbalances.
So bring on the anti-oxidants! Vitamin E is a good soldier in this skirmish.
Okay, I’m Sold. What’s The Best Way to Take Vitamin E?
1) Eat Your E
An awesome way to bump up your intake of Vitamin E for general health purposes is to make a point of including E-rich foods in your daily diet.
However, if you are looking to make a serious impact on your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms you’ll want to add a daily VE supplement.
That said, it still can’t hurt to make sure you’re getting some or all of the following foods on a regular basis:
- Brazil nuts
- Wheat germ oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
- Wheat Germ
- Flax Seed
- Safflower oil
- Sprouted seeds (these also provide enzymes and readily digestible protein)
I don’t know about you – but I’m happy to have a good reason to eat more avocados or splurge on some mangos! Pick some of your favorites on this list and gorge away!
2) Add a Supplement
Again, if you’re serious about not having to strip off your sweater 50 times a day – you’ll want to take a little more E than can be found in the foods listed above.
Alpha tocopherol is a form of vitamin E found in most cells of the body. But it’s best to take supplements that contain all four tocopherols. Check your labels!
It’s super Important to use natural Vitamin E rather than the synthetic varieties. Make sure the one you choose includes mixed tocopherols and that there is a “d-“ before the “alpha-tocopherol. (d-alpha-tocopherol)
Don’t get the ‘dry’ vitamin E capsules. Always choose the liquid gelcaps.
600-800 I.U. is the recommended daily dose for hot flashes.
Note that this is significantly more than the U.S. RDA for Vitamin E. Your body will like you better if you split this up into two or three doses per day.
When taking larger amounts of vitamin E, it can be helpful add in some vitamin C. For example take 200 I.U. of vitamin E three times a day accompanied by 1000 mg of vitamin C each time.
More is NOT better in this case. Never take more than 1200 I.U. of vitamin E per day.
A few cautions: People with hypertension or diabetes are cautioned against taking more than 400 I.U. of vitamin E per day. And if you’ve got a surgery scheduled, it’s recommended to discontinue use two weeks beforehand because of its blood thinning properties.
3) Rub On Some Oil And Light Those Candles!
Liquid vitamin E (also known as vitamin E oil) is an amazing natural lubricant that counters the awful vaginal dryness that so often accompanies the onset of menopause.
The great thing is, the oil can do more than just lubricate – it can actually help you to experience increased sensation and pleasure during intercourse. And of course feeling moist and juicy instead of all dried up has gotta help that libido.
Rub a small amount of vitamin E oil into the vaginal area about three times a week for best results. This helps to rehydrate the vaginal tissues. You can buy vitamin E oil by itself, or you can use a pin to prick open one of the gelcaps each time.
Oh – and vitamin E oil has some other awesome benefits. It’s often recommended to fade and reduce the redness of scar tissue. I’ve also heard that it can help make your nails stronger and more lustrous.
No Hot Flashes? This Stuff Does So Much More!
If you’re lucky enough to wonder what a hot flash feels like– you might still want to add some E into your regime. Studies have shown in to prevent breast cysts and uterine fibroids, and to reduce incidence of heart attack and stroke.
The cyst and fibroid studied found that the shrinking effect happened when the 300-500 I.U. of vitamin E was combined with evening primrose oil. The studies also noted that Vitamin E increased the effectiveness of GLA supplements like evening primrose, borage oil and the like.
So if you are taking a GLA supplement, adding in some Vitamin E will give you more bang for your buck!
As far as heart disease goes: Vitamin E apparently slows plaque formation and reduces the risk of blood clots. It also may inhibit LKL oxidation. Different studies report that long term intake of the vitamin (2-8 years) reduced the incidence of heart attack and stroke by 30 to 65 percent!
Vitamin E also can improve circulation through its action as a mild blood thinner. It’s this ability to increase blood circulation, along with its lubricating properties, that contribute to this vitamin’s libido boosting powers.
Doesn’t all this make you want to go grab some vitamin E right now?
Let’s open up this vitamin E discussion! Have you tried it for hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms? Do you know of any other amazing benefits? Tell us in the comments below – or better yet share the tip over on our Facebook page!
We power surging women have so much to share with each other!