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our obsessive quest for nutritional perfection

Vitamania by Catherine Price
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The startling story of our devotion to vitamins — and how it keeps us from good health.

Health-conscious Australians seek out vitamins any way they can, whether in a morning glass of orange juice, or a daily multivitamin. We believe that vitamins are always beneficial and that the more we can get, the better — and 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’.

However, despite a century of scientific research, there is little consensus among experts around even the simplest of questions, whether it’s exactly how much we each require or what these 13 dietary chemicals actually do. The one thing that they do agree upon is that the best way to get our nutrients is in the foods that naturally contain them. 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 products that we might, and should, otherwise reject. 

From recounting the experiments of the great explorers to visiting military testing kitchens, Catherine Price 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 mysterious chemicals. In so doing, she both demolishes many of our society’s most cherished myths about nutrition, and challenges us to re-evaluate our own beliefs. Vitamania won’t just change the way you think about vitamins — it will change the way you think about food.


‘[A] hidden, many-faceted, and urgent story … a commanding, meticulously documented, and riling exposé; rich in dramatic and absurd science and advertising history, lively profiles, and intrepid, eyebrow-raising fieldwork’ Booklist

‘Absorbing and meticulously researched history of the beginnings and causes of our obsession with vitamins and nutrition.’ The New York Times

Scribe Publications Pty Ltd; March 2015
336 pages; ISBN 9781925113693
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Title: Vitamania
Author: Catherine Price

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