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Vitamin D causes Hot Flashes?

Yes, this is an example of interconnectedness in the body that might surprise you!

Hot flashes can be a seriously debilitating client symptom – and an excellent item to focus on in bringing them rapid relief early on in your program.  I’ve written before about potential remedies for hot flashes.   But be sure you think about how other hormones might be affecting estrogen, including Vitamin D!   Here are the studies I referenced:

Given my research into this topic, I believe Vitamin D supplementation may have a stronger effect as the body gets hit with high one-time doses in a supplement (which is more likely to cause significant fluctuations in hormones – the real culprit in hot flashes) vs. smoother, continuous synthesis of Vitamin D from sun exposure.  Please note this post is not at all discouraging appropriate Vitamin D supplementation!  It’s just a reminder that each patient has unique needs.  Obviously the effect of reducing estradiol and increasing sex hormone binding globulin can be quite positive for some of our clients (and is likely at least one reason why  higher levels of Vitamin D have been shown in large studies to be associated with a lower incidence of hormone-mediated cancers) .

If hot flashes only happen at night and especially in the 2-4am window and impairing sleep, it’s much more likely that they are being driven by a cortisol surge.  You might consider checking their diurnal rhythm of cortisol (e.g. DUTCH testing) as well as their various estrogens (*not* just estradiol).

I could go on and on… It’s also true that magnesium helps the body to regulate and produce hormones.  Taking too much Vitamin D at once can drive magnesium too low (it’s needed to convert Vitamin D into its final form in the body).  Studies show that magnesium can help reduce hot flashes too.   Because insufficient magnesium is so common, I believe that RBC Magnesium should be run on nearly everyone as part of a thorough annual physical check-up.

I hope these tips helps you to use functional medicine know-how competently *and* confidently.

Wildly satisfied clients and patients build wildly successful practices!

Warmly,

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16 Questions for “Vitamin D causes Hot Flashes?”

  1. 8
    Mary L White says:

    Hi, I’m on 50,000 units of vitamin d it’s my first week and I have hot flashes really bad and I have had a complete hysterectomy when I was 32yrs old I am now 52, how do I handle hot flashes and is it normal to be hungry from taking this large dose of vitamin d. Thank you

  2. 7
    Marla says:

    The lab results from a recent physical showed I was very low in Vitamin D…. 18 was the result. My doctor prescribed
    50,000 IU of Vitamin D once a week and 800 Vitamin D daily. The doctor did not say anything about Magnesium.
    After I take the weekly pill I have intense hot-flashes for a couple of days. What type of Magnesium would you
    recommend I use to help? Thank you.

  3. 6
    HH says:

    Hi,

    Your link is the first one to help explain why I experience a “hot flash” early afternoon while taking vit D. I’ve tried ALL types of vitamin D (with or without oil, with or without K2, with or without magnesium, D2 or D3, etc) and have asked a handful of docs (psychiatrist, PCP, derms, etc) about this with no answers!! I am in my early 30’s, and didn’t even know it was a “hot flash”. Severity would correspond to the dosage. Thank you! Curiously, the same exact feeling (which I now realize to be like a hot flash) happened a few hours after I would take off my birth control patch.

    I am in my early 30’s + healthy. However I get painful burning hot face every evening. This had a sudden onset after I quit estrogen/progesterone birth control. The burning intensity correlates to high estrogen times in my menstrual cycle. Curious if you had any thoughts on this — over a dozen world-class MD’s are stumped.

    • 6.1
      SAFM Team says:

      You are very welcome! I can appreciate the ease that understanding can bring. Anything that causes a sudden “surge” in estrogen one way or another (regardless of whether the ongoing, average level is high, optimal, or low) can cause an adrenaline rush that creates the feeling of a “hot flash”. Give the specific burning in your face, however, this sounds like a potentially, completely different scenario, especially if it happens *every* evening. If you consume wine most evenings (other alcohol too, but especially wine), this could *easily* be the driver. A surge in histamine can cause what you describe, perhaps from a specific food or environmental trigger? A very common cause is also using a B-complex supplement or multivitamin which contains niacin. Being in a higher estrogen state might exacerbate this dynamic. Your birth control pill may also have been keeping your estrogen dominance under control; with natural (higher) levels of estrogen back in play (perhaps exacerbated by suboptimally low progesterone), you become more vulnerable to histamine issues. The evening might be a time when your cortisol level crashes or surges strongly which can be an exacerbating factor. A DUTCH Complete test and some support from a functional medicine practitioner might help you to get to the true root causes, but indeed, there are many possible, credible, hormonal causes of what you describe. I wish you the very best with your wellness journey!

  4. 5
    Joan Zietlow says:

    Would you boost with mag during the high vit D also, and if so how much?

    • 5.1
      SAFM Team says:

      Keep in mind that this article is not necessarily highlighting an effect of “high” Vitamin D. In some cases, the hot flashes are happening as one supplements with Vitamin D to try to address a low or moderate level. Magnesium can indeed be driven down to suboptimal levels due to its uptake in the final Vitamin D conversion. And low levels may contribute to hormone balance as well. But this may or may not be at play in each individual case. I would use insight from the entire case to decide if/how much/what type of magnesium might be helpful (just as with any other client). RBC magnesium lab data can also be quite helpful (as we have discussed in many other posts).

  5. 4
    Mara Schiffren says:

    Hi. Dr. Ronald Hoffman has a protocol to use mega dose Vitamin D3 to cure colds. Take 50,000IU 3-4 days in a row. I’ve used that myself since I learned of it and it is the only thing in my life that cures incipient colds in a few days rather than them taking hold and going through a regular cold cycle. I’ve never noticed an issue with hot flashes or is that only a problem that would arise in certain cases?

    What is your perspective?

    • 4.1
      SAFM says:

      Indeed – good for you! I too use an “immune boost” approach (for myself and also my own clients) to ward off symptoms from a viral or bacterial infection. I don’t personally recommend 50K IU Vitamin D but rather 10-20K IU Vitamin D, 40mg zinc piccolinate, and perhaps 10K IU Vitamin A (because it works in tandem with Vitamin D). And this works very well! I totally agree with the overall concept. And certainly for short-term boost issues, I doubt there would be any significant hormonal effects. The article topic here is really more about ongoing, maintenance use of Vitamin D at a level that has this effect on specific individuals.

  6. 3
    Heather Conley says:

    Tracy, if Vitamin D is in fact exacerbating a woman’s hot flashes, would you recommend a lower dose? Using the sun instead? I know this can be harder in the Eastern part of the U.S.

    • 3.1
      SAFM says:

      Indeed. Either of those options can help. As I said above, I would also want to be sure that their magnesium is optimal to ensure maximum benefit of the Vitamin D that they are taking. I have had a few female clients make this choice, allowing their Vitamin D to come down into the upper 40s (vs. 60s) for a better overall result in aggregate. It’s definitely going to be an individual balance choice for each unique individual.

  7. 2
    Heather Conley says:

    Can low Vitamin D itself cause hot flashes?

    • 2.1
      SAFM says:

      Alas, I think the research into this topic is inconclusive. For example: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140416090801.htm . This most recent study showed no connection, but prior ones have done so. I have definitely had a few clients whose night sweats in particular (not during the day) improved significantly with raising their clinically-low vitamin D; I believe this is associated with Vitamin D’s role in promoting serotonin action (a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate body temperature). So bottom line: the research is unclear, but my limited experience in this particular arena with my own clients says there can indeed be a connection *sometimes*. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834983

  8. 1
    Aimee Peterson says:

    Hi Tracy,
    So what would you recommend for a perimenopausal client who is struggling with overall low hormones and low mood? Initially her D was very low but now is better since she started supplementing. She needs to continue with D supplementation, right? But maybe at moderate levels to minimize the effect on hormones? She is working with her doctor to balance hormones and thyroid. Any thoughts or recommendations in this scenario?
    Thanks for everything you do!
    Aimee

    • 1.1
      SAFM says:

      Indeed, it’s a delicate balance! In these situations, I would definitely want to understand RBC magnesium and optimize that mineral in order to ensure the Vitamin D she is taking is being optimally used. I would definitely use the menopausal recommendations I have made elsewhere *first* (e.g. ground flaxseed, black cohosh, maca, etc.). My intent was to suggest Vitamin D as a possible missing puzzle piece if those other remedies in aggregate were not having the expected effect. I would not drill this down to a “to D or not to D” question. It’s important that D on its own be adequate for many other reasons as well. (As an aside, with overall low hormones, you especially want to make sure this client optimizes magnesium AND takes Vitamin K2 to help maximize retention of bone density.)

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