Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection

By Catherine Price
Read by Erin Bennett

11.25 Hours 02/24/2015 unabridged
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Vitamania is the startling story of America’s devotion to vitamins—and how it keeps us from good health. Health-conscious Americans seek out vitamins any way they can, whether in a morning glass of orange juice, a piece of vitamin-enriched bread, or a daily multivitamin. We believe that vitamins are always beneficial and that the more we can get, the better—yet despite this familiarity, few of us could explain what vitamins actually are. Instead, we outsource our questions to experts and interpret “vitamin” as shorthand for “health.” What we don’t realize is that the experts themselves are surprisingly short on answers. Yes, we need vitamins; without them, we would die. Yet despite a century of scientific research (the word “vitamin” was coined only in 1912), there is little consensus around even the simplest of questions, whether it’s exactly how much we each require or what these thirteen dietary chemicals actually do. The one thing that experts do agree upon is that the best way to get our nutrients is in the foods that naturally contain them, which have countless chemicals beyond vitamins that may be beneficial. But thanks to our love of processed foods (whose natural vitamins and other chemicals have often been removed or destroyed), this is exactly what most of us are not doing. Instead, we allow marketers to use the addition of synthetic vitamins to blind us to what else in food we might be missing, leading us to accept as healthy products that we might (and should) otherwise reject. Grounded in history but firmly oriented toward the future, Vitamania reveals the surprising story of how our embrace of vitamins led to today’s Wild West of dietary supplements and investigates the complicated psychological relationship we’ve developed with these thirteen mysterious chemicals. In so doing, Vitamania both demolishes many of our society’s most cherished myths about nutrition and challenges us to reevaluate our own beliefs. Impressively researched, counterintuitive, and engaging, Vitamania won’t just change the way you think about vitamins—it will change the way you think about food.

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Summary

Summary

Vitamania is the startling story of America’s devotion to vitamins—and how it keeps us from good health.

Health-conscious Americans seek out vitamins any way they can, whether in a morning glass of orange juice, a piece of vitamin-enriched bread, or a daily multivitamin. We believe that vitamins are always beneficial and that the more we can get, the better—yet despite this familiarity, few of us could explain what vitamins actually are. Instead, we outsource our questions to experts and interpret “vitamin” as shorthand for “health.”

What we don’t realize is that the experts themselves are surprisingly short on answers. Yes, we need vitamins; without them, we would die. Yet despite a century of scientific research (the word “vitamin” was coined only in 1912), there is little consensus around even the simplest of questions, whether it’s exactly how much we each require or what these thirteen dietary chemicals actually do.

The one thing that experts do agree upon is that the best way to get our nutrients is in the foods that naturally contain them, which have countless chemicals beyond vitamins that may be beneficial. But thanks to our love of processed foods (whose natural vitamins and other chemicals have often been removed or destroyed), this is exactly what most of us are not doing. Instead, we allow marketers to use the addition of synthetic vitamins to blind us to what else in food we might be missing, leading us to accept as healthy products that we might (and should) otherwise reject.

Grounded in history but firmly oriented toward the future, Vitamania reveals the surprising story of how our embrace of vitamins led to today’s Wild West of dietary supplements and investigates the complicated psychological relationship we’ve developed with these thirteen mysterious chemicals. In so doing, Vitamania both demolishes many of our society’s most cherished myths about nutrition and challenges us to reevaluate our own beliefs.

Impressively researched, counterintuitive, and engaging, Vitamania won’t just change the way you think about vitamins—it will change the way you think about food.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“Catherine Price traces the long history of America’s love affair with vitamins. ‘We allow our capacity for rational thought to be hijacked by a word,’ Price writes, assuming that anything labeled as a vitamin makes us healthier. The reality: they only work if you’re deficient to begin with, which is rare in the US. While Price’s prescription—get your nutrients from natural foods—isn’t revolutionary, her chilling research about the barely regulated supplements marketplace will likely have you rethinking your morning multivitamin.” Outside magazine
“[Price’s] investigation, full of scurvy-ridden sailors, questionable nutritional supplements, and solid science, is both entertaining and enlightening.” Discover
“This lively investigational work…raises important questions about both supplements and vitamins, and if our government isn’t asking them, at the very least, consumers must.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A commanding, meticulously documented, and riling exposé rich in dramatic and absurd science and advertising history, lively profiles, and intrepid, eyebrow-raising fieldwork…Price’s sharp wit, skillful, and vivid translation of science into story and valiant inquisitiveness (she insists on tasting synthetic vitamins and gets buzzed on the military’s caffeinated meat sticks) make for an electrifying dissection of our vitamin habit in contrast to our irrevocable need for naturally nutrient-rich food.” Booklist (starred review)
“This entertaining and informative book traces the history of vitamins and nutritional diseases. It also examines the contemporary emphasis on diet and nutrition that leads people to spend millions of dollars on supplements and enriched foods even though the best way to obtain nutrients is from wholly unprocessed foods…The author offers copious notes to support her research…Readers interested in health, and those who enjoy Marion Nestle’s books will want to read this work. An excellent addition to collections in public and consumer health libraries.” Library Journal
“A catchy title that captures our obsession with vitamins and our belief that getting plenty of them will ensure our good health…The reading is easy, and the message is clear and significant.” Kirkus Reviews
“Catherine Price gives us a journalist’s entertaining romp through the fascinating history of the discovery of vitamins and their use and marketing as objects of health obsession. Faith in vitamins, she advises, should be tempered by scientific uncertainty and dietary complexity and the understanding that foods are better sources than pills.” Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and author of What to Eat

Reviews

Reviews

by ShortNFuzzy 9/13/2017
Overall Performance
Narration
Story

most important book you'll ever read or hear-seriously

You'll never look at vitamins the same way. You'll never look at supplements the same way. (And you'll most likely never ingest them either). Vitamins in food form-GOOD! Vitamins in pill form-mostly bad. At best questionable. The amount I learned about the supplement industry is staggering. If you come out of this experience not changing your opinion on supplements then you didn't actually read or listen to the book. Catherine Price's exhaustive research will most likely cause backlash from some of the supplement industry, and completely understandable. Think about it. Do you know what is in the bottle? How? Because someone told you? Because the company told you? Because the gal at CVS said so? Have you ever had the contents of the bottles tested by independent researchers? Catherine Price has. Reading/listening to this book might actually save someones life. I'm not kidding.
by ShortNFuzzy 4/15/2017
Overall Performance
Story
Narration

Great book!

Informative and thoughtful, this book will make you never look at supplements the same way again...

Author

Author Bio: Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and a contributing editor at Popular Science. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, the New York Times, Salon, and more. A graduate of Yale and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and winner of the Gobind Behari Lal prize for science writing, she lives in Philadelphia.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, Digital Rental, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/Health & Fitness
Runtime: 11.25
Audience: Adult
Language: English