Vitamania : Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection
by Catherine Price

Overview -

"Measured, funny, and fascinating... If you need vitamins to survive (you do), you should read this book." Scientific American ("Food Matters")
Most of us know nothing about vitamins. What s more, what we think we know is harming both our personal nutrition and our national health.  Read more...

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More About Vitamania by Catherine Price

"Measured, funny, and fascinating... If you need vitamins to survive (you do), you should read this book."Scientific American ("Food Matters")
Most of us know nothing about vitamins. What s more, what we think we know is harming both our personal nutrition and our national health. By focusing on vitamins at the expense of everything else, we ve become blind to the bigger picture: despite our belief that vitamins are an absolute good and the more of them, the better vitamins are actually small and surprisingly mysterious pieces of a much larger nutritional puzzle. In Vitamania, award-winning journalist Catherine Price offers a lucid and lively journey through our cherished yet misguided beliefs about vitamins, and reveals a straightforward, blessedly anxiety-free path to enjoyable eating and good health.

When vitamins were discovered a mere century ago, they changed the destiny of the human species by preventing and curing many terrifying diseases. Yet it wasn t long before vitamins spread from labs of scientists into the realm of food marketers and began to take on a life of their own. By the end of the Second World War, vitamins were available in forms never before seen in nature vitamin gum, vitamin doughnuts, even vitamin beer and their success showed food manufacturers that adding synthetic vitamins to otherwise nutritionally empty products could convince consumers that they were healthy. The era of vitamania, as one 1940s journalist called it, had begun.
Though we ve gained much from our embrace of vitamins, what we ve lost is a crucial sense of perspective. Vitamins may be essential to our lives, but they are not the only important substances in food. By buying into a century of hype and advertising, we have accepted the false idea that particular dietary chemicals can be used as shortcuts to health whether they be antioxidants or omega-3s or, yes, vitamins. And it s our vitamin-inspired desire for effortless shortcuts that created today s dietary supplement industry, a veritable Wild West of overpromising miracle substances that can be legally sold without any proof that they are effective or safe.
For the countless individuals seeking to maximize their health and who consider vitamins to be the keys to well-being, Price s Vitamania will be a game-changing look into the roots of America s ongoing nutritional confusion. Her travels to vitamin manufacturers and food laboratories and military testing kitchens along with her deep dive into the history of nutritional science provide a witty and dynamic narrative arc that binds Vitamania together. The result is a page-turning exploration of the history, science, hype, and future of nutrition. And her ultimate message is both inspiring and straightforward: given all that we don t know about vitamins and nutrition, the best way to decide what to eat is to stop obsessing and simply embrace this uncertainty head-on.
By exposing our extraordinary psychological relationship with vitamins and challenging us to question our beliefs, Vitamania won t just change the way we think about vitamins. It will change the way we think about food.
Booklist, *STARRED*
"A hidden, many-faceted, and urgent story."
Wall Street Journal
"The baselessness of our hopes for various elixirs, alongside our baseless fear of science s true achievements, opens up a rich vein of hypocrisy that Ms. Price mines with engaging relish."

  • ISBN-13: 9781594205040
  • ISBN-10: 1594205043
  • Publisher: Penguin Pr
  • Publish Date: February 2015
  • Page Count: 318
  • Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Health & Fitness > Vitamins
Books > Social Science > Popular Culture - General

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2015-02-09
  • Reviewer: Staff

This lively investigational work from journalist Price reveals how little we know about vitamins—both how much we need or how they work—and how our vitamin obsession is actually making us less healthy. “espected health organizations," she writes, “do not recommend that healthy people with no nutritional deficiencies take multivitamin supplements." Instead, the best advice is the simplest: “if the healthiest doses of vitamins and other micronutrients appear to be those found in food... then we should stop taking pills and just eat food." Price's survey of the history of vitamin discovery—prompted by deadly deficiencies in vitamins C, D, and A—unveils troubling societal consequences: We've become “obsessed" with the idea of the vitamin, “one of the most brilliant marketing terms of all time." With the introduction of the first multivitamin in the mid-1930s, “protection in a pill" has become the goal fueling a supplement industry that has escaped stringent regulation: “many supplement ingredients that are allowed to be sold in the United States have been definitively proven to have both short- and long-term health risks." Price raises important questions about both supplements and vitamins, and if our government isn't asking them, at the very least, consumers must. Agent: Jay Mandel, William Morris Endeavor. (Mar.)

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