Wednesday, March 18, 2015


VITAMANIA by Catherine Price bears the subtitle "Our Obsessive Quest for Nutritional Perfection," and comes at a time when Wal Mart and other retailers have gotten into trouble for selling vitamins that do not contain what the label says they do. The FDA decided not to regulate the billion dollar industry, limiting warnings to overdoses of A or D. So, when Adele Davis and Linus Pauling encouraged megadoses of vitamins, the lid was off for companies to make fortunes off gullible people who spent money they (mostly) could have better spent on natural foods with micronutrients in them which the supplements do not contain. Just as the processed (junk) food industry can't make money from people who eat whole foods, so too the same processed food industry gets more profits by extracting (if not artifically producing) vitamins from grains and other foods, and repackaging those vitamins to consumers. Do we need vitamins? Of course, and many foods are deficient in vitamins. But is the solution to eat poor quality foods and supplement them with pills? Price argues no, since one becomes the pawn of charlatans who are unregulated and tend to make claims which are unproven, working off fear and ignorance. Rather than to buy expensive vitamin pills in a myriad range of confusing formulations (whose prices fluctuate according to popular fads), it is better to find out if there are deficiencies in one's diet through one's doctor, and eat better quality food in a wider range. Price, through narrator Erin Bennett, tells why knowing the facts matter. Listening to this book may save you thousands of dollars over time, while protecting your health in the process. 

Bill Gifford in SPRING CHICKEN also talks about (through narrator Jeremy Arthur) the effectiveness of vitamins and other substances or modalities in staying young forever (obviously an impossible goal except via uploading one's brain into a computer.) Not only has the anti-oxidant theory of aging been disproven, but calorie restriction, resveratrol, and other things have limited effects. Having researched this subject for my suspense novel The Methuselah Gene, I found this audiobook interesting and informative, with a broad, memoir style approach that includes many personal stories as the author recalls his encounters with both scientists and pseudo-scientists. He ends with a list of things that may help advance age by preventing major diseases, but the ultimate pill is still science fiction (although they are working on it!) And just as my protagionist speculates how people might react to overpopulation and extended lifespans of the rich, who can afford such pills, he presents his case for moderation and wary skepticism. 

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