Vitamin D-less in Seattle

I recently started taking Fish Oil (well, again) at the suggestion of one of my medical team members.

I say again because I started taking it a while back, but I was trying to take it with dinner. It didn’t work out because I kept the bottle in the freezer, and I kept forgetting to take it. Now I’m taking it with breakfast (since I’m in the kitchen anyway) and it seems to be working out much better.

Keeping fish oil capsules in the freezer does wonders for keeping the heartburn, indigestion, and fishy taste at bay.

Omega-3 fatty acids are supposed to have some kind of effect on reducing depression, or bouts of it. However, every study I’ve read so far is completely different, so nobody seems to really know what is going on.

I guess the consensus by most doctors, though, is that it has the potential to be beneficial. If it were useless, they wouldn’t have suggested it, right?

It seems like this is the case with most supplements, though that is purely speculation. On the news you’ll hear that one day a dose of such-n-such will keep away cancer, and six months later the same dose now puts you for higher risk of cancer.

The studies aren’t particularly conclusive, and when they are there seem to be conflicting conclusions depending on the study.

So how do I know what supplements are ok to take?

I have a couple rules of thumb that I follow regarding supplements & vitamins.

  1. I always try to get the vitamin/mineral from my diet first, because I seriously don’t need to be taking any more pills. If I need iron, maybe I should eat more broccoli or beans or beef. Instead of taking a fiber supplement, I’ll eat whole grains and leafy greens. Call me crazy, but by changing my diet I can hit two birds with one stone! Having a well-balanced diet is helpful for staying fit and feeling good, and I don’t have to take a million supplements.
  2. There are some things that are slightly elusive though. Oh, like Vitamin D in Seattle. Or fish oil. I like fish, but I don’t intend to live on a diet of fish entirely. For these things, I want to talk to my doctor first. Some supplements interact with other medications, so I’m not going to run out and just buy a bunch of things and start taking them. I also like to talk to people who are already taking whatever supplement I’m suggested to see if it is really worth trying.
  3. If I’m really going to commit to taking a supplement, I try and do as much research as I can first. Some fish oil, for example, puts you at a higher risk for mercury poisoning, so that’s kind of important to know. A little research can help me figure out what brands are trustworthy, and have a smaller impact on the environment (if that is important to you, it is to me!).

Having an opinion about what I’m putting in my body and knowing where I draw the line can be very helpful in the otherwise confusing world of supplements. When in doubt, I always talk to a medical professional, whether that is a holistic specialist, naturopath, psychiatrist, or physician.

Since I’m currently sloshing around in the shallow waters of depression I am very hopeful that the fish oil will help, even if just a little. I haven’t noticed a huge difference so far, but I’ll probably keep taking it for about six months to see if I seem to have any benefit.

For now I’m just playing the waiting game.

11 responses to “Vitamin D-less in Seattle

  1. My understanding of the Fish-Oil/ Mercury situation is that if the fish species that is used in the process of making the pills is a small fish…eg Sardines or Herring …then the risk is almost zero. This is because higher mercury concentrations are found in fish species that are nearer to the top of the food chain. However if the smaller fish are being fed a diet that consists of ground up scraps from larger fish….such as in a fish farm environment then that will entirely change the situation.

    I guess the ideal situation would be to find a supplement that is made from wild- caught small species.

  2. My heart clinic told me to take as much fish oil as I could 4 my high cholesterol and triglycerides. I also take a multi vitamin for men over 50. Haven’t tried using vitamin d. probably should. In your research did you find the best fish oil without mercury? I just use costco because it’s cheap! 🙂

  3. Thanks for the fish oil info, I’ve been taking it for a long time and it’s good to know it keeps better in the freezer.

    Every doctor I’ve seen since being diagnosed with bipolar says that fish oil is a great supplement to take. Also several have told me that vitamin D is important for anyone living here in the winter to take, whether they’re bipolar or not, due to the consistent lack of sunlight.

    Have you ever tried taking a B6 supplement? My current doctor has told me that taking 50mg of B6 as needed really does wonders for bipolar mood swings in women, if those mood swings are related to hormones, e.g. unusual depression or irritability due to PMS. I’ve found that this helps me a lot.

    Anyway, keep writing, I love to read your blog!

    • Interesting, I haven’t ever had B6 but I know I have a lot of trouble with hormonal mood swings. I’ll definitely do a little research on that!

      I’ve heard the same thing as you in regards to vitamin D, we just don’t see the sun enough up here to be able to get it on our own. That is probably something I should talk to my doctor about as well, considering I know so many folks who swear by that too.


  4. Omega 3…that is, proper Omega 3, isn’t always easy to find. They say that only salmon-oil from the northern hemisphere, or is that the Southern…oh bother, is actually beneficial (something to do with the minieral content of the water).

    They are fairly expensive but if you can get a hold of GNLD (Golden Neu Life International), they are by far the best when it comes to vitamins and supplements. Apart from the fact that they make sure theyre products are safe, for example mercury free, theyre products are also scientifically formulated to work with your body. Even though your body usually just passes out any vitamin’s it don’t need, there is some that can lead to poisoning and they ensure that the body only take as much as it needs.

    • I would suspect those would be salmon from the Northern Hemisphere, we have quite a lot of them around here in the Pacific Northwest up to Alaska. There have actually been a lot of issues with mercury in the fish being used for sushi (which can include salmon as well) so it is definitely important all around to know where your fish/fish oil is coming from!

  5. When I lived in Seattle I did both the Omega 3 oil and vitamin D at the request of one of my psycs. It works, as long as you remember to take it 🙂

  6. So I’m curious, two years later: are you still taking fish oil? do you feel like it’s made a difference?

    • After two years of mood tracking I stopped taking the fish oil about 6 months ago. I noticed no changes in mood or functioning to warrant the cost of the supplement, and as I have zero income at this point, cost is a big issue.

      I also tried taking a vitamin D supplement but that only lasted about a week as I found it was really exacerbating my IBS symptoms. While the fish oil didn’t seem to help, it didn’t “hurt”… which is why I took it for much longer.

      Having said that, my symptoms have now also been deemed treatment resistant, so even though there was no positive effects for me that isn’t to say it might not help somebody else!

      • Thanks for sharing! I’ve been taking it recently, in hopes of keeping depression at bay (along with the myriad of other ways… exercise, routine, food, etc.) Dunno if it’s helping, but figure it doesn’t hurt to take it anyway.

  7. There are many supplements that can have a great impact on both the ups & downs. In 3 years of working with supplements alone, my husband & I have found the right combination for him. Everyone will be different but from a biological chemists perspective there are varying reasons certain supplements consistently show merit. My husband rebels against pharmaceuticals which launched me into massive research on vitamin & mineral additions as well as herbal and alternative methods.
    Fish oil & Magnesium (glycinate). Daily. Year round. Hemp oil (only contains trace amounts of THC) haa a balanced ratio of omegas 3, 6, 9. For some this works better than fish oil. In our case it was equivalent.
    We also use a proprietary herbal blend to help reduce the onset & duration of the up cycles. Theanine Serene by Source Naturals contains Gaba, Taurine, L-Theanine, Holy Basil & additional magnesium (chelate).
    When an up cycle first hits we break out the Glycine in an attack dose of 3000mg 2x day. This is enough to break the upswing sometimes.
    When it’s not enough and the “thick” is in we reach for Lithium Orotate. (15-25mg/day) This is not the same lithium you get as an Rx. This is the otc mineral that is naturally occurring in most drinking water. Amounts in the US are substantially lower than those in France. Helps to reduce aging, dementia & alsthimers too.
    Bach flower remedies used in theraputic doses in your daily water help year round as well.
    In our case, my husband doesn’t experience the depression at the deep levels of most. (Although he has gone there.) His “high” episodes are long lasting spanning several months. I think overall, our supplement regiment would be considered effective treatment if he would/could avoid the turning to marijuana when in the hypo-mania state.
    Anyway, hopefully this info will help someone. (Some of these supplements work well for the caregivers too.)

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