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Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest For Nutritional Perfection

Vitamania: Our Obsessive Quest For Nutritional Perfection - Catherine Price Got this from FirstReads for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this well-researched and well-written book by Catherine Price. If you're looking for some amazing nutritional advice that will change your world and save your life, this isn't it. Her advice is: don't isolate your micronutrients, eat real food (not processed). Not exactly new advice. But that wasn't what she set out to do.

Price answers a lot of basic questions about vitamins. What are these things? What do they do for us? How were they discovered? How do they show up in our lives now, in our foods and elsewhere?

She also takes a few chapters to take a look at the supplement industry, an industry she claims (rightfully so, I think) the very idea of vitamins gave birth to. Without the idea of micronutrients that do unexpected things for our health, the supplement industry wouldn't exist. But she takes the time to explain that the supplement industry is unregulated for the most part, examine the political history of why that is (how it came to be), and the consequences of the lack of oversight. The supplement industry part of this book included details I hadn't known before, even though I knew some of the basic facts, and I appreciate learning about that history.

The most interesting and new part of the book for me was near the end, when Price discusses the unknowns of nutrition as they stand today. There's a heck of a lot we don't know. She gives some examples of how we know that our knowledge is incomplete, which I relished. For example, an apple's antioxidant activity is far higher than is possible with the antioxidants we've isolated and analyzed from the apple. So there's more going on there than we know of. Whole foods include nutrients, molecules, and interactions that are still far beyond our understanding. We do know that fruits and vegetables and meat are good for us, and we know that what they do as whole foods is greater than the sum of the parts we've figured out. So we should keep eating whole foods and not rely on pills for our nutrition.

In the end, it's an easy, chatty read with good info, even if there are no earth-shattering new truths in here. Basically, Price is telling us that there's a lot we don't know, and we should get comfortable with our uncertainty, and not pretend that we have it all figured out and take our pills. Good central thesis, reasonable arguments.