Vitamin D-3 and depression

Jana didn't enjoy life on a Caribbean island. But what I loved about it was the sun. I could go out in mid-day, stand in the heat for ten minutes, and soak it all in. It felt so good. I felt recharged. It put me in a good mood, and I enjoyed the afterglow the rest of the day.

I'm an indoor person. Perhaps you are, too. When we moved to Costa Rica, my exposure to sun dropped to nearly zero. San Jose is often rainy or cloudy; it's a busy city, where it's not as pleasant to go out; and my sleep schedule rotates, so I'm often asleep during the day.

I knew all this. I knew I wasn't getting enough sun, so I got vitamin D pills. I took one a day, 400 IU, the then FDA-recommended dietary allowance. I didn't know that this wasn't nearly enough. I even asked a doctor if I'm taking an appropriate amount. He dismissed the question. He had no knowledge of vitamin D-3, or its importance.

A year into our life in Costa Rica, I felt a palpable sense of ennui. I objectively have everything; I am blessed with a high income, no work stress, rent and mortgage-free life, a beautiful and supportive wife with whom we have a wonderful relationship. By all accounts, I should be happy with my life. And I was. Except... I felt less and less enthusiasm. I reasoned that I'm satisfied, but no longer felt it.

In April 2013, a person walked into my life. Suddenly, there was passion, and interest, and meaning. Then shortly after, she left. By September, I was in a relentless depression. I wanted to enjoy life, but I couldn't. I lacked enthusiasm. Everything felt mundane and grey. Our son was born, bringing excitement and love, and also challenge. (He's screaming on top of my head as I post this.) I enjoyed spending time with Jana and Aaron, but depressed thoughts set in as soon as I was alone. I enjoyed games, in particular WoW battlegrounds, but I was depressed again as soon as the match was over. I tried to work, I pushed myself, but it was hard to find motivation. Hundreds of days, I got up from bed only because I had to, and spent the day wishing I didn't exist. I couldn't enjoy a good life as it was. And I had no solution.

To illustrate the depth of my abyss, here's a diary entry I wrote a month ago, on October 5:

I genuinely smile at the thought of Ebola killing us all. I mean all humans. Entire planet. If only I die - or if any number of people die, short of a vast majority - I'm not achieving anything. I'll still be reincarnated back into this crap.

But if we all died... If we all died, maybe I wouldn't have to come back.

So I wish we all died. I wish life on Earth would be over.
I hope you understand: it takes a certain misery to write this.

It's a hormone!

The evening of October 6, I found this presentation by Dr. Stasha Gominak, who also maintains this informative vitamin D-3 page. The next day, I wrote a blog post about it. I started taking much larger doses of vitamin D-3. I got a blood test: on October 8, my level of D25OH was 27.15 ng/mL. Based on established guidelines, that's slightly below normal - and no big deal. It's just a vitamin; it's optional. But if Dr. Gominak is right, it isn't optional. It's not even a vitamin, it's a hormone - and I'm way below the healthy range, 60 - 80 ng/mL.

For the past month, I've been taking 7,000 IU of vitamin D-3 per day. During this time, my frequency of depressed moods has much decreased; they have become absent most days. I have more energy. Things are now interesting! I feel an esprit similar to what I felt in the Caribbean, where I could bask in the sun any day.

It is estimated that a light skinned person, naked and without sunscreen under the sun in the summer, produces between 10,000 and 20,000 IU of vitamin D-3 in thirty minutes. Using sunscreen, synthesis is reduced to negligible levels. It's also reduced if you're dark-skinned. At higher latitudes, you can't synthesize vitamin D-3 during winter. You can't get it in meaningful amounts from food, except if you take drops or pills. Synthesis requires Ultraviolet B, which is absorbed in the ozone layer. It only hits the Earth's surface when the sun is at a high angle. In mainland US and Europe, this is from April to October, between 10 am and 4 pm. Even if you're outside at such a time - sunscreen blocks it.

Evolution made depression for a reason, and we know its seasonality is tied to vitamin D. When days are short, and food is scarce, depression improves survival. It makes you want to find a comfortable place, and lie down, and just sleep. It makes everything dull and gray; it makes you not interested in things, because that helps to conserve energy. You can't be running around, expending scarce fat reserves, when food is many months away.

In the ancestral environment, this state would only last a season. In our environment, it can last indefinitely because we're ignorant. It becomes chronic, and gets much worse. Other than its effects on bone health, we don't know much about vitamin D at all. It's named a "vitamin", so that sounds like snake oil. At best, it's "science" for "nutritional doctors" - you know, the kind that are mostly female. Most of us spend hours from 9 to 5 inside, so we have to supplement it - yet we don't even know what the dose is.

So that's how I spent a year depressed.

I'm not saying all depression is for this reason. But if you're dark skinned; or if you're rarely out in mid-day, without sunscreen, in summer sun; get your D25OH level tested. If it's not between 60 to 80 - make sure it gets there. Don't be deluded into thinking it's fine, just because you're taking 400 or 1,000 IU per day.

My subsequent update on this topic:


Reading list for afterlife studies

I've had things happen to me that I couldn't otherwise explain, so I sought explanations. It turns out that knowledge about our life when we aren't in a human body is readily available, it's just that few people want to know it. Without further ado, here is a reading list if you'd like to learn about this topic.

Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind
by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer

Materialism is the conviction that the universe consists only of dead matter as our current physics knows it, and that our consciousness inexplicably emerges from this. This book will prepare you gently for the possibility that materialism is not merely an unproven jump to a conclusion, but has actually been shown false with experiments. The science being done on this is rigorous, but isn't being taken seriously because materialism is a faith: an unproven belief that people adhere to in defense against the unknown. Trying to disprove it evokes fear and discomfort, but the science is there, and is thought-provoking.

Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death
by Judy Bachrach

This book will open your mind to the possibility that a significant number of convincing death experiences have in fact been reported by people who returned to life, and that these experiences aren't explained by dying brain activity or hypoxia. The book prudently stops short of speculating on the afterlife, its main purpose is to crack the door open, and show that something is beyond it that we should not ignore.

Journey of Souls: Case Studies of Life Between Lives
Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives

by Michael Newton

This is the life's work of Michael Newton, who claims to have recorded thousands of sessions of hypnotic regression with clients from a variety of cultures and religious backgrounds. Newton performed deep regressions that led clients not merely into memories of past lives, but into what happens in the spiritual realm when we are between lives. Not all regressions were successful, but thousands were, and they revealed memories of a spiritual world that were consistent among clients, even if they were in conflict with clients' own beliefs before the regression. Newton approaches the issue methodically and systematically, and builds a detailed picture of the spirit world, and what happens between reincarnations.

In his later years, after being inundated with interest, Newton founded The Newton Institute, which teaches hypnotherapists to perform the same type of regression. I've talked to such a therapist, who confirmed that her clients' regression experiences are consistent with Newton's work, and are that way regardless of their religious background, including clients who had not been exposed to Newton.

Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives
by Brian L. Weiss

Weiss's books are popular and moving, but a skeptical reader will want to read them after Newton's. Weiss's work supports Newton's, but is less systematic and more anecdotal.

Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot
by Andrea Leininger, Bruce Leininger, and Ken Gross

I haven't read this book, I don't have a craving to, but maybe you'll want to. A child gave a detailed account of his previous life as a WWII fighter pilot, which his parents were able to corroborate. This is not the only such account; past life memories and spiritual awareness, such as contact with dead people, appear to be frequent in children up to ages 3-5, but tend to be dismissed by parents who have their own beliefs, and/or no one to share this with. It seems that 3-5 are the ages when our built-in memory blocks start to set in, but prior to that, many children remember.

Several books and articles, such as this one, reporting on reincarnation research
by Jim B. Tucker, continuing work from Ian Stevenson, at University of Virginia

Tucker, and previously Stevenson, have compiled reports of previous life memories from many children, and found compelling corroborating evidence in a large number of cases. As with Soul Survivor, I've read about this work, rather than read it directly.


Resources above this are suitable for novice readers. Resources below are not; I find it unlikely that a novice reader will be able to welcome this material.

Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul
by Jane Roberts

Seth shares information liberally and with aplomb. He expresses complex ideas, worthy of volumes themselves, in single paragraphs which not infrequently bewilder the reader with implications. This is only the first book of many; yet in it, he loses no time to explain not only reincarnation, but bewildering concepts such as probable pasts and futures, infinite parallel realities, states of consciousness that may allow a person to access them, and so on and so forth.

Seth's is the only work I've found so far that just might provide an explanation for the many reports of people who believe they have "jumped realities" - sometimes people with an unfolding awareness of a parallel existence, but mostly people with memories of dying prematurely in an alternate universe, and resuming awareness in ours.

You may want to start with this introduction to Seth - I found it a good one.

The Law of One, or The Ra Material
by James Allen McCarty, Don Elkins and Carla Rueckert

Once you've read much of the other work above, and satisfied yourself that evidence for reincarnation is plentiful, you may find yourself ready to suspend disbelief and read what a sixth-density social memory complex has to tell us about the purpose of incarnation in our density (acquiring polarization for either service-to-self, or service-to-others), veiling (why we forget when we incarnate, and how the experience was different for other creatures before there was the veil), sexual energy transfers, and other topics.

Edit history

Nov 1, 2014    Original version
Apr 10, 2015Added The Law of One and the work of Jim B. Tucker
Jul 10, 2015Added Seth Speaks