Fish oil insomnia… again

Fish oil is supposed to be the healthiest substance on the planet, so I keep trying it.  It keeps defeating me.  From Monday to Thursday I had 267 mg of omega-3  fish oil before I was hit with insomnia. I was drifting in and out from 11PM to 1 AM, took some GABA and finally slept but very lightly.  I’m sleep deprived today having trouble keeping concentration for more than a couple minutes at a time and keep forgetting what I was doing.

I think I will try cutting my fish oil in half next week. this is a problem that has dogged me for years.  Any source of omega-3 will do it including flax seed or sardines.


22 thoughts to “Fish oil insomnia… again”

  1. This is kind of funny but I’m quite happy to say that I’ve been drastically exaggerating how sensitive I am to omega-3 oil. I’ve been ever so slowly increasing the tiny amounts of fish oil that I take. So far, no problems whatsoever using the kids fish oil supplement which contains 63 mg. I’ve taken one for five consecutive days now without any trouble.

    In the back of my mind I’ve been meaning to try to estimate my consumption of omega-3 by food for a long time. Now, I see that I was unknowingly consuming pretty significant quantities of omega-3 via brussels sprouts before I changed my diet back in April.

    I no longer eat brussels sprouts because they are high thiol, but each one amazingly is supposed to contain 36 mg of omega-3. I’m absolutely shocked because that would mean that I was getting 500 to 600 mg of omega-3 per day before. Yes, I’d estimate I was eating about 15 or more Brussel sprouts a day.

    Now I can see I need to start titrating up my kiddie fish oil much faster! Ooops. This is embarrassing.


  2. OK, to start, I misread the amount of fish oil on your supp list, i.e. I now understand that you are taking mg not grams. This is a big problem, especially if you chelate with ALA.  As I understand it, omega 3 is the key building block in the brain and if you start moving metal around in there but don’t provide the material to repair the damage, nothing good is likely to result. I would not chelate with ALA without a  minimum 5 grams of fish oil per day, but better would be 10-15.

    But insomnia is also a horrific problem that I suffered from for many years. In my case, it got better soon after starting supplements and I am fairly sure that this was related mainly to getting my methylation cycle working again. Cutler writes a fair amount about this and also Titelbaum (From fatigued to fantastic) brings it up. They both mention that people with CF often benefit significantly and Cutler also brings it up as one way to get better sleep. Also, there are loads on the FDC pages. But since you are starting out, I can summarize the key points:

    Important: These needs to slowly (minimum 40 minutes) dissolve under the lip or tongue.
    I use all of those and it has really worked. I practical terms, one could:
    1.       Start with making sure that you are not consuming any folic acid
    2.       Take ½ of the B complex on day 1 and see how it goes. If no big problems, work up to 2 a day.
    3.       Then start the Metafolin, again with ½ the first day and then work up to 4 a day.
    4.       Finally, add B12. Start with the 1000 mcg and let it dissolve for 15-20 min, and then spit it out.  If that works ok, then do a full 40 min the next day. Then go up to 2 of the 1000 mcg and keep adding until you are at 2 of the 5000 mcg.
    All of this should take about 2-3 weeks. But if you try it, be ready for some reactions! I got racing heart and palpitations in the beginning, but it soon went away. Just be careful and if you get meaningful reactions, stay on (or lower) the dose until it feels safe.
    Word of warning: Cutler says that some individuals can get angry and agitated by B12, so watch out for this and if it happens, stop and do more research.
    And, as always, this is just something that worked for me. It may or may not work for others and everybody should do their own research.
    Some links:

    1. wow Viking, that is a lot of information and will take me a while to process. I am very very interested in it because my system has been thoroughly malfunctioning for years and I need help. vitamin C also has a similar insomnia effect on me.

      over the years, I’ve often thought about what it would be like to find the missing key. and I always think the same thing – that I would suddenly sleep well and long because I should have accumulated decades of inadequate sleep.

      I will report back!

      thank you for your kind efforts, I am touched.

      1. You are most welcome!
        I am really happy if I can help, since I have myself benefitted so much from others that have taken the time and effort to write about these issues.
        Also, I am still on round (day 5…) and I need something other than just watching the clock to occupy me….It used to be that I could do nothing, i.e. only watch TV (I used to go and buy a big DVD box before starting a long round), during rounds, but it is getting much better now.

      2. I also suffer from insomnia and anxiety every time I take fish oil.
        My daugher has just been tested for MTHFR mutations and tested compound hereozygous which means she has 2 different mutations – 1 from each parent – which affect her methylation pathways. Tbis means I as her parent almost certainly have a mutation in at least 1 of my MTHFR genes and am presently undergoing testing for MTHFR mutations.

        I would advise you to get tested to see if you are also carrying an MTHFR gene mutation as if so it may cause many other health problems (Including increased risk of blood clots/strokes and dementia in later life for example) but can be easily treated with methylfolate and methylated vitamin b12 supplements.

    2. Do you avoid food sources of Folic acid? I eat a lot of lentils, leafy vegetables and sunflower seeds…

      1. I do best on a Atkins style diet, so it is not really an issue for me. I would for sure avoid anything that has added folic acid.
        But if you read the  Phoenix Rising link above, you find lots of discussion regárding this. Also, for some people it does not matter, but to give it a quick try, I would eliminate all folic acid. Then if if works, you can add it back if it is important to you. If you then see that you get less effect from the metafolin and B12, you have to make a choice. It all get’s complicated as you dig deeper…..

        1. yep, I noticed on Phoenix rising they advocate avoiding folic acid in foods. I cross-referenced the thiol food list and decided there is enough overlap that I should eliminate both so I will try a round without ALA with a low sulfur and low folic acid diet. going shopping today!

          thanks again

          1. Best of Luck, E!
            Just remember to take it easy! Metylation (and Iodine) can be powerful stuff. In my case, it was a bit like an old, rusty engine coming to life. But even if if was not running perfectly, if was a great feeling that it was running at all! And as time progessed, it became steadily better.
            I stopped my round now after five full days and since then have slept a lot. Often I get these high focus days 1-3 days after a round and I am hoping for it now, since there is a lot of work lined up. I will look in on your blog from time to time to see how you are progessing.

            1. thanks Viking, I think I’ve had a few of those high focus days off round also, hope you’ll have some good ones!

      2. In regards to methylation defects (in dealing with Folic Acid, which is a synthetic version of folate), food sources that are NOT from Folic Acid being forced into foods (‘fortified’ or ‘enriched’, for example), it should be fine. For those with the forward defect MTHFR C677T (vs. backwards A1298C which doesn’t have problems with Folic Acid), there are difficulties converting the man-made Folic Acid into bioavailable folate. Bypassing this problem via a) avoiding sources of Folic Acid (harder in the United States since the legislation of it into our food in the late 90s) and b) supplementing with l-methylfolate (as suggested by Viking Expat) essentially steps around this defect.

        So enjoy those leafy greens! 🙂

  3. I was thinking a bit about this issue and may have an idea that could work . It relates to methylation and I think that it really helped me with insomnia, that I used to have big problems with. Like many other things is this detox universe, methylation is a massive topic and if you would like me to elaborate, please first let me know how much you have already read up on this subject.

    1. I don’t know anything about methylation and would love to hear your thoughts. Yesterday I did some fruitless research again. Found one person saying that the insomnia agent might be DMAE but that lead nowhere as I don’t find any such thing as “DMAE-free fish oil”…

      The way fish oil affects my brain is really remarkable – I can be so tired I’m nearly unable to speak coherently, but if the fish oil has accumulated to a certain point, I’ll just go into a state of deep relaxation but remain unable to penetrate over to restorative sleep as if there were some light bulb in my brain that cannot switch off.

      Because I’ve struggled with sleep over the years, I’m an expert on sleep techniques and have superb sleep hygiene… we are talking purely about a chemical reaction.

      Thanks for offering Viking!

    2. Hi Viking, just a quick note to let you know that I have reached an omega-3 supplement level (570 mg/day) that I’m absolutely certain would’ve caused me insomnia prior to my various protocols. Very possible that the methylation support is doing the job! Anyway, I will continue titrating:)

      Thanks again for your help!! Hope you are enjoying your summer.

      – Eric


      1. This is really great to hear! I too get insomnia from fish oils (and apparently flaxseed, and perhaps Vitamin E as well – still testing). I’ve been dealing for compensating for methylation defects over the past year but still seem to have the insomnia issue with fish oils (and I’ll get a really unique crown headache too – like a crown pressing VERY hard into the top of my head and hurts like hell). I recently found a source of Folic Acid lurking in my supplements (because who looks for Folic Acid in their VITAMIN C?!? 😛 ) and have removed it. I’m hoping doing so will be another huge leap forward for me in getting things working properly. I’ve already seen HUGE benefits from adjusting my folate intake (avoiding Folic Acid and supplementing with l-methylfolate).

        Your post got me wondering if perhaps methylation defects correlated to my insomnia with fish oil. I hope so and that it can be adjusted because, while my Omega-3 totals are good, my EPA levels are bottom of the barrel. My Vitamin E levels also show low. I wonder if my next labs will show improvements since I’ve improved my methylation cycle. I also wonder if correcting my methylation will simply help my liver better convert LNA to EPA, at which point I won’t even have to supplement further. A third option is that, after compensating for methylation defects, perhaps fish oil will no longer cause insomnia and, if my levels haven’t improved, I can supplement to help it. Your above comment gives me reason to hope that at least that last musing might be possible.

        Thanks again!

        1. my fish oil insomnia is entirely gone because I’m taking 12 g a day now. I don’t know exactly why, maybe it was just the slow titration… Or maybe the methylation support.

          1. “my fish oil insomnia is entirely gone”

            Victory for you! Great news! Do you find that you get a lot of high quality sleep these days?

            When you write that you “don’t know exactly why”, it sounds like something that has happened to me many times. It all becomes guess work after a while.But in the end, my view is that it really does not matter all that much, as long as things are moving in the right direction.

            I am making significant progress on my weight issues and think that I will be done in a few months.

            1. Thanks Viking! unfortunately I’m not getting a lot of high-quality sleep these days although I might say somewhat improved. The day that I get a lot of high-quality sleep is the day I will be almost recovered. Unfortunately, my treatment is turning out to be a tough slog. I’m convinced that accelerating methylation is causing a train wreck with some other critical factors. First I think I’m not getting potassium into the cells and second, I have a feeling I might need to supplement BH4 for ammonia detoxification. so still quite a bit of work to do.

              Congratulations on beating your weight issues, very happy for you!! Are you traveling to the US this summer? I enjoyed watching Band of Brothers 🙂

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