Vitamaniaisthe startling story of America’s devotion to vitamins—and how it keeps us fromgood health.
Health-conscious Americans seek out vitamins any waythey can, whether in a morning glass of orange juice, a piece ofvitamin-enriched bread, or a daily multivitamin. We believe that vitamins arealways beneficial and that the more we can get, the better—yet despite thisfamiliarity, few of us could explain what vitamins actually are. Instead, weoutsource our questions to experts and interpret “vitamin” as shorthand for“health.”
What we don’t realize is that the experts themselvesare surprisingly short on answers. Yes, we need vitamins; without them, wewould die. Yet despite a century of scientific research (the word “vitamin” wascoined only in 1912), there is little consensus around even the simplest ofquestions, whether it’s exactly how much we each require or what these thirteendietary chemicals actually do.
The one thing that experts do agree upon is that thebest way to get our nutrients is in the foods that naturally contain them,which have countless chemicals beyond vitamins that may be beneficial. Butthanks to our love of processed foods (whose natural vitamins and otherchemicals have often been removed or destroyed), this is exactly what most ofus are not doing. Instead, we allow marketers to use the addition of syntheticvitamins to blind us to what else in food we might be missing, leading us toaccept as healthy products that we might (and should) otherwise reject.
Grounded in history but firmly oriented toward thefuture, Vitamania reveals thesurprising story of how our embrace of vitamins led to today’s Wild West ofdietary supplements and investigates the complicated psychological relationshipwe’ve developed with these thirteen mysterious chemicals. In so doing, Vitamania both demolishes many of our society’smost cherished myths about nutrition and challenges us to reevaluate our ownbeliefs.
Impressively researched, counterintuitive, andengaging, Vitamania won’t just changethe way you think about vitamins—it will change the way you think about food.